2019-06-06 - Quite the Impression


Talbot makes the trip to the Sanctum to introduce himself to the Sorcerer Supreme.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Thu Jun 6 03:49:07 2019
Location: Sanctum Sanctorum

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As Ambrose knows, Kent has a hell of a pokerface. And he's got it pasted on now, to the best of his ability. Because he's scared. That magical brand pulses on his aura like a raw burn…..and he likes it here. He wants to stay in this city. And the power behind the door he's about to knock on is orders of magnitude greater than his own.

So he's groomed within an inch of his life, wearing his best summer suit in a silvery gray, Panama hat in hand, as he knocks politely on the door.

And the door, darkwood inset with an opaque rectangular window, swings open soundlessly. There is no individual on the other side to greet in a refined manner — what there are is the slip-silvery warding spells, guardians locked into the powers of the leylines themselves beneath the brownstone's foundations. Crossing the threshold will mean being caressed and give a very thorough sniffing once-over, as a gargantuan dog might, twitching nose and all.

Accompanying the spells themselves, demi-sentient, is the sense of a curled finger — a tug on the natural curiosity inherent in most if not all practitioners. Come in, it seems to imply, encouraging one to step into the short foyer. Traveling through it will introduce one to the vaulting foyer with its floor inlaid in beautifully-patterened wood and timeless interior design — the best of Art Deco meets Far-Eastern influence. The air itself is clean and cool, very akin to the atmosphere one might encounter in an art gallery. Items small and large linger in the shadowed alcoves inlaid into the wall. A bench sans arms and back is tucked against the left-hand side of the room with its hallways leading off further into the Sanctum.

Kent's still as he's inspected, chin lifted. He's been a dog, he knows sniffing over when he meets it. He endures it silently.

Well, he didn't burst into flames the moment he crossed the threshold. Kent's tread is soft, soles scuffing, on the floor. He steps into the middle of the hall, stands waiting, doesn't avail himself of the bench.

To he with the Sight, the wards whisper up through the ceiling of the entryway itself like rising smoke and disappear entirely. They must be headed upstairs and to the master of the manor. Ahead, the falling light of day shines through the stylized stained-glass window showcasing the Eye of Agamotto, piercing and patriarchal at once. The banisters of the grand staircase and stairs gleam in its shine from above the first landing; each side splits right and left to swing around to open-air hallways leading off into mystery.

Blink one second.

Blink the next, and the window ahead is obscured by a silhouette. Amorphous at first with how the ripple of fabric like liquid curls and flows about his frame, the movement recedes to showcase the long line of legs and arms extended at his sides gesturing silently in useful mudras. Traveling through the air in the eerie float, down the stairs comes the Sorcerer Supreme to land in the exact center of the foyer itself. Dressed in the storm-blues of his mantle, crisp and groomed in raven-dark hair with silvered temples, his steel-blue gaze settles on Kent with a palpable pressure of interest. At his shoulders, of course, the crimson Cloak of Levitation, settling to innocent hang about his broad-shouldered build.

"I don't believe we've met," the Sorcerer comments with a whimsical note to his baritone, as if the man standing in the entryway yet is novel enough to entertain him. "Be welcome in my home, fellow practitioner."

He'd like to be cool. HE really would. English sangfroid dictates he not flinch. But…he's already keyed up. And so Kent flinches, just an instant.

Then he's recovered himself, and he bows very deeply, holding it for a respectful few heartbeats. The brand is there, a glaring angry red, at the crown of his head. He straightens. "No, I have not previously had the honor," he says, quietly, raising those gray eyes to the Sorcerer. "I am Kent Talbot." He might well know that name, Strange….and not in a good way. It's rather like being the director of the FBI and having a man walk into the office and declare that he's John Dillinger.

"Kent Talbot, is it."

The Name itself resonates like a plucked harp string as it passes through Strange's lips. He brings his hands up to steeple before his chest. Even in the lower lighting of the Sanctum, all setting sun and warm gas-lamps (magical, of course, no need for fire in such a place full of delicate things), one can catch the lined scarring of his surgery, the one that doomed his career as neurosurgeon and set him on the path to his current title.

"Given the Mystical brand you wear, I'm confident in assuming you don't play well with others. Am I to expect trouble from you, Mister Talbot?" the Sorcerer asks evenly, both dark brows rising even as he lets his gaze continue to rest upon Kent.

His own hands are loose at his side. Another, more fractional bow at that name….and a shiver he can't entirely conceal.

The mention of the brand has him licking lips gone dry. "No, Sorcerer," he says, very respectfully. He makes no protest about being reformed. HE's alive and sane and at liberty.

"Good. I was hoping my Wednesday night wasn't going to be ruined by another banishment. Doctor Stephen Strange, Sorcerer Supreme," the man then adds, incling his head slightly in respect to another being of Mystical ilk. "Would you like some tea?" He gestures out before him and behind Kent, towards the open doorway leading into the parlor. "I'd be an awful host if I didn't offer."

Apparently, Strange is assuming that his offer will be accepted because he then strides past Kent as if he fully intended to follow through on his threat — er, offer. In his wake, the Cloak flags with a definite delay in motion, as if it were enjoying the movement of air beneath it. The scent of incense and a warm cologne: cedarwood, spices, grey musk. Into the parlor the Sorcerer strides and immediately takes it upon himself to begin prepping a cuppa.

"Have a seat," he says over his shoulder. Kent will probably catch the sudden animation of the Cloak's collar as it waves at him in a point-tipped twiddling. The collar gets a stern side-look.

Tea. Tea. The most reassuring thing Strange could actually offer. And it loosens that tightness in his expression, a notch or two anyhow. "Thank you, that would be most kind," he says, reflexively. Englishness as cruise control and it works.

He paces calmly after the Sorcerer and takes the seat indicated. Nevermind the way his lips press together to suppress the smile at the Cloak. He nods at the Cloak, just a little.

The Cloak continues and the man it wears reaches across his body to give the collar a gentle tug. "It has a mind of its own." The animated garment stills but not after one last little flitter. "I've collected a broad selection of teas. Do you have a preference?" Strange pauses in dropping a prepared satchel into one of the two mugs of steaming water, the string pinched between his fingers, as he glances over at Kent. Preference given (including cream and honey or not or neither), he nods and goes about making the second cup.

"What brings you to my stoop then, Mister Talbot? As I mentioned before, I know of you. Now I've got a face to match the name and the actions I assume to merit the warning you wear."

"Darjeeling, please," Kent says, pleased. Another notch loosened. "It is a very powerful artifact, I see. A pleasure to see it," No harm in buttering up the magical towel. Honey it is.

"Introductions. I…..wished to present myself, lest you think I was trying to….live here clandestinely. And yes…..I earned it."

"I believe it. No one wears that branding as a joke. I suppose you've learned your lesson then, after having it applied. You're still alive." His commentary is well-meaning if dry. He stirs in the second spoonful of honey into his own mug after having spooned a heaping helping into Kent's own Darjeeling tea.

"I appreciate your visit. It would've been worse if I'd had to visit you, I agree. Are there others in your household that I need to be aware of?" He asks this question so blithely as he then directs by gesture and magic that Kent's tea float over to land upon the side-table tucked to his chair. His own mug is taken up and Strange seats himself in the right-hand chair. By how he leans back, it must be his own chair. Even the Cloak doesn't seem to mind being tucked between body and furniture. Strange holds the mug about level with his sternum, long fingers wrapped around it to enjoy the heat radiating into sore bones.

He picks up cup with a littlesmile, utterly lacking in humor. "I thought that might be best. And yes, I've learned my lesson," he says. No pleading, there, but humility….oh, definitely. Conscious of the position he's in.

Part of his instincts are insisting he should get down on the floor and roll over to show his belly. Surely that'd work.

"Ah, yes. I have a fiancee, my son, and my fiancee's daughter. My son is….half-dragon. My fiancee is….cursed with a kind of immortality. I'm not wholly sure just how magical my daughter-to-be actually is," he admits, with a little frown. Why doesn't he know that?

By the expression on Stephen's face, even he's not sure how Kent doesn't know this. Schooling himself towards neutrality again, the Sorcerer nods and hums noncommitally in the back in his throat.

"I…congratulate you on surviving your encounter with your son's mother," he says bluntly. "He must be an interesting young man. Though, immortality, you say?" Sipping at his tea, Strange then sets it aside on his own side-table where it steams. "Cursed immortality. You used that word specifically, cursed. Is this an issue that needs to be resolved?" There's a keen interest in those steel-blue eyes that lands on Kent once again.

He lifts his hands. "No," he says, quietly. "It's merely something to be lived with. He does no harm, and he endures it, my betrothed, I mean."

There's a fond little smile at the mention of his son. "I was very fortunate," he says. "Moreso that he came to find me." What an interesting household he must have.

"He came to find you? That is a turn of Fate. From what I know of the dragonkin, they have little interest in our mortal affairs. Even the oldest of us seem little more than hairless adolescent monkies to them. Or was it putrid pink offspring of demented demi-gods?" Strange shrugs and waves a hand, dismissing his line of thought. "No doubt your son is interested in his humanity. I'm grateful for this. Should you need assistance in regards to him, please do let me know — with your fiancee's daughter as well, especially if hers is a delayed blossoming of skill. Rarely, the ability to manipulate the magic comes along later naturally rather than in a learned manner."

The sound of footsteps running lightly along the hallway above the parlor is enough to merit Strange glancing upwards. "Mmm…the Malk's awake," he comments to himself before taking up his tea again to sip at it.

The mention of turn of Fate makes him smile that wry little smile again. It makes his face far more human. "Yes. He appeared not long ago. Things are going smoothly enough….but I shall keep that offer in mind, should help be needed."

The sound of the pitter patter of enormous cat feet has him looking up first in idle curiosity….swiftly transmuted to what might be wariness at the mention of the Malk. "Malk?" he parrots back, a little blankly.

"Malk," the Sorcerer repeats as if professor to a student. "A species of feline, Fae by physiology…" He pauses, inhaling thoughtfully. "Charming and irritating by persuasion. I found her when she was an abandoned kitten decades ago in Central Park. Their lifespans are unknown, but she's been mature for some number of years now. Her adolescence was trying, but we've progressed beyond it, thank the gods. She was exceptionally trying when she discovered that she could sneak from the Sanctum and linger about the nearest casino."

Strange considers his tea. "You see, she imbibes the bad luck that lingers within a person's aura. The worse the luck, the more interested she is. It was like attempting to separate a crack user from their stash." He sighs and gives Kent a long-suffering look. "It took her nearly being captured by mundane authorities to scare her enough. My word and warning was insufficient until then. However, there is a plane of existence not quite like the Christian purgatory wherein she may slip and indulge to her heart's content. Since then, things have been amicable. Would you like to meet her?"

Is this some kind of arcane wizard mean-kid punishment? Strange sees the brand, and has to see the marks in his aura from the darker aspects of his past. Kent peers at him a little cock-eyed, uncertain. He even sets his teacup down, carefully. "I have heard of them - I imagine they're fascinating."

Curiosity is a spur, indeed. And if she's sated by dipping her paws into, say, a Buddhist purgatory sort of hell, well….."Yes, if that wouldn't be any tr ouble."

"I doubt it'll be any trouble for her. For you and your aura?" The Sorcerer shrugs and gives Kent a level look. "I offer a meeting to allow you to slake your curiosity, not because I have an inherent streak of sadism, Mister Talbot. Otherwise, she is…"

His gaze goes distant over Kent's shoulder in that way he likely recognizes as some form of mental commune or perhaps a testing of the atmosphere of the Sanctum itself. Stephen's gaze returns to the present and sharpens on Kent again. "She is content to continue chasing errant spell-bunnies." A beat. "They're like dust-bunnies save for their composition is of errant energetic components."

Talbot lifts his hands, exposing the long palms in that gesture of placation. "I shouldlike to meet her, then," he says, gently.

The comment about sadism has him going pokerfaced again. Kent being someone who doeshave an inherent streak, after all.

"You have my sincere promise that no harm will come to you while you are on my property." Strange accentuates his words with a deep inclination of his head. Then, placing two fingers to his lips, he whistles a five-toned musical tune. Interestingly enough, it seems to…echo in the air of the parlor itself, wavering and then dying out with just enough delay to merit wonderment.

The light patterned thudding comes to an abrupt halt upstairs. Then, it changes direction. Stephen rises to his feet and motions at Kent with the flat of his palm. "Stay put. I may need to curb her enthusiasm before she arrives."

He disappears out into the entryway and then can be heard walking to the foyer. "Aralune, «we have a guest, you need to behave.»" The language is Tibetan, spoken fluently. The quickened footfalls come to an abrupt point of silence after leaving the grand staircase and then…

A deep purrling rumble can be heard. Purr? Growl? Either way…it sounds like it belongs to something prehistoric.

Deep within him, the part that is the Hound has its ears pricked. The ancient antagonism between feline and canine is raising the hairs at his nape, on his forearms. Kent is literally bristling.

But more than a century as a highborn Englishman has him suppressing the growl he's tempted to give. Instead, he lets his eyes half-lid, all indolent reserve.

Must not bark at the Sorcerer's cat. Must not bark…

"«Stay at my hip, please, like we practiced. Yes, good girl,»" the Sorcerer speaks quietly and firmly without being overbearing. His steps can be heard to approach the parlor room again. He appears with his scarred hand resting on the spine of a large…large cat. With eyes as deeply green as jade and a pelt of silver tabby, the telltales for her Malk heritage are in the sooty fluff-tips of her ear and…well, frankly, her size. White whisker furl forwards as she sniffs the air of the room itself before she's even three pawpads into the place. Strange keeps the hand upon her lower shoulders as he walks her past Kent.

But oh, Kent. Oh, Aralune knows the source of the intriguing scent to come from him. All 150+lbs of lean, predatory muscle moves beneath the striped coat and her gaze is locked him, twinkling in interest.

"«About face,»" Stephen instructs gently and they come about before halting. Aralune continues staring dead at Kent. "«You may introduce yourself.»"

The Malk blinks, ears perked high and forwards, tail lashing. Gods, she's the size of a small Siberian tiger.

Her voices comes forth, murring and mrowling until it's mostly English. "He smells like he's gone rrrrrrotten."

It's a different shade of pokerface that appears at that. Cats never do mince words, do they? But he is a good dog, and the last thing he wants is to offend Strange….directly or via the proxy of his animal companion.

He's risen, polite, and says, merely, "I regret that I offend." Nevermind that he's still bristling all over, and his jaw is tight with the effort of not snarling.

Strange is wearing a look that Kent probably saw time and time again in his scholastic headmasters, standing at the front of the room, wondering why on earth they signed on for whatever they're engaged in at the time. It's flat, unamused, and of course, a little long-suffering.

"Aralune cannot mince words as a being of the Fae. They do not tell lies if they can manage it," he offers as conciliation. Aralune's still staring however. By now, her lips have parted to reveal the wee tips of canine lingering behind black skin. Even the lining of her mouth is blackish, though not as dark as the mamba snake might sport. She inhales, scenting at Kent even through the back of her palate.

"Do you rrrreally rrregret offending, magician? You smell of dog." That's enough to make Stephen look down at her and back to Kent. "You may lie like one too. Go on. Trrrry. I like the scent of yourrr sweat."

"Of course," His voice is smooth as polished stone. "I was raised to high standards of hospitality, both given and received. To displease one's hosts is distressing." Kent's expression has gone utterly bland…..nevermind the way his pupils have begun to whorl out, betraying the moon-green glint of the retinas behind. Not in the least human.

He inclines his head graciously to Strange. "So I have found," he agrees. She wouldn't be thefirst fae creature he's met, with his lineage.

Aralune shoots a quick look to the Sorcerer and back to Kent. One shoulderblade begins to roll forwards before the man beside her utters a sharp tssst of sound. She pulls back her lips to showcase all of her ivory teeth in a flaring of whiskers at him and hisses. He hisses back more softly, echoing the intention and not backing down an inch, his palm remaining without pain or ire on her spine.

"But he smells of dog!" the Malk insists, her large soot-tipped ears now folded back as she glares at Kent again.

"I'm sure he will explain in time," the Sorcerer reassures her evenly. He looks at Kent again and catches the nightshine in lurid-green within the man's pupils. "I'm not concerned, Aralune."

"This rrroom will rrreek of him for days!" And with a rather adolescent plonk of her haunches, she sits and lashes her tail back and forth. It whips to curl around Stephen's ankles before flicking the opposite direction about her own feet. Back and forth, back and forth.

"Is your curiosity sated?" the man asks of Kent. Aralune murrrrs deep in the back of her throat, her own pupils narrow.

"Yes, thank you," Kent bows, just a little. "I'm sorry it…displeased her." Why doesn't he just volunteer that he has a dog…. "Perhaps it is the scent of the pet Jackal I keep," he adds, after a beat.

But by the particular shading on that deadpan, he knows it isn't. Not really.

Aralune lifts her nose more where she sits, flashing the corrogated roof of her mouth as she does so. "He does smell like morrrre than one dog. Who would subject themselves to this? Willingly?" Her disdain is countered by the gleam in her jade-green eyes. "Still…the ill fortune lingerrrring on him is strrrong." Her tongue curls up at the corner of her mouth and she drags it to her nose before it disappears again. "May I sample it?" How politely and charmingly the Fae creature asks.

"Nope." Strange pops the word and the Malk murrrs again, laying her ears to one side. "You were doing an excellent job of stalking those spell-bunnies. If you can catch all of them, I'll be more than happy to provide you with more succor."

That's apparently enough to entice Aralune to pull her attention from Kent. She looks at Strange with her full attention.

"I promise - and you know I keep my given word," the Sorcerer reminds her, wearing a small smile now. "Come along." Shifting his body between the Malk and Kent, he then walks her from the room. "A moment," he asides to Kent as they pass. Aralune gifts the man with one last gimlet look, feline intrigue and disdain somehow existing simultaneously in her.

They disappear and the instructions to remain at her task can be heard before the rhythmic thumping vanishing upstairs again signals the Malk now busy elsewhere.

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