2019-07-21 - One Fish, Two Fish, Blue Bear, Boo There


Wanda's return to the Sanctum is in a harrowing state and Stephen is there to bring her home — for what 'home' might be in a state of amnesia.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sun Jul 21 22:05:05 2019
Location: Sanctum Sanctorum

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Theme Song



It all begins well enough.

Rosy skies promise a sublime evening, though the first streaks of colour painting the dome of the heavens favour a darker tincture than strictly calm. Dusty petals start to tint apricot where the fading golden hour sinks away, the particulate matter suspended in the air adding other elements enriched to a russet stain. The grey Atlantic pounds away at the strands where eager bathers frolic on the sand, more mindful parents and activists forever concerned about what might leak out from the danger zone or if radioactive material, sharks, mutant sharks, or mutant radioactive sharks are subjected to a declining environment. Sultry heat lingers instead of the brutal, stifling weight of the summer: the first time in six days the gasping, pressure cooker atmosphere has broken.

So New Yorkers creep out from their air conditioned domiciles, or the great cultural venues boasting air conditioning and fairly reasonable prices. Multiplexes spit out teenagers by the hundreds. Weary city dwellers trekking in from Long Island, upstate, downstate, anywhere-but-here,-mate discover the temperature outside is not quite enough to fry an egg, enough to herald the wailing, howling storms that so often sluice off the Catskills and plunk right on the great, mighty confluence of the Hudson and the East Rivers.

Greenwich Village buzzes. Attempts to shut down bodegas early fail, and that one new ice cream shop around the street has a huge "OUT OF STOCK, CLOSED" sign on the window. It doesn't stop annoyed, frustrated visitors and locals from milling around. They part for a girl with static in her hair and wide, hollow amber-green eyes flashing like a cat's. Trudging past reveals the hours to say 'Closed - when we run out' as a smug nod to summer, but it doesn't matter. Heavy boots clop on the pavement, lucky not to leave sticky strands of half-melted, oozing plastic in their wake. Someone's funny attempt to fry an egg outside the sanctum still oozes a sulphuric scent, not quite the foul brimstone of an actual infernal entity.

Clop. Smack. A steady pace that leads as the crow flies, wandering around interposing barriers but essentially into the heart of it. She has a way about her, the sort that fickle fate avoids colliding with pedestrians or meeting red lights. Projecting an unconscious fortunospheric halo helps distort bits of reality where the gravid entanglement clings to her along with the solemn drifts of awful, terrible things.

Most wouldn't see it. They might note cheerfully torn nylons, too stifling for this weather. Or the ragged skirt, /so/ with the moment, slit torn sky-high and just the ragged waif look. Stockholm chic, those dark colours, but the burgundy and merlot corset held mostly intact is all… Paris? Milan? It's just perfect for the fashion show, darling. Except that it holds spindrift pieces of shredded anchoring spells, and the rents gouged into them are full of shards of a broken spell, the kind that calls down the Mirror Dimension. Bits and pieces tinkle in her hair. Her aura is a beautiful thing to hear, for those who can, but to see it's a maelstrom on par with the Pillars of Heaven. If anyone's looking.

She isn't, stumbling up to a step, staring blankly up at the overshadowing house. Buildings, big in New York, are hardly remarkable. Here… here is another thing altogether.

It begins with the inkling that something's gone wrong — the ill-slinking, spine-tingling boding to bring sheeting of cold goosebumps across his skin. Eyes held shut during a period of abeyance to the Art of meditation and expansion of the mind slowly open, their pupils already drawn to tight points. The fine hairs on his neck rise. Uncoiling from his mid-air lotus seating, long legs in belted boots make to move him swiftly from the wooden dias beneath the Window On the Worlds. The silver-templed man is stopped at the very first step downwards into the open-walled hall by the wispy guardians of the Sanctum Sanctorum. The imdomitable warding spells report swiftly in their stilted cadence of a spirit gone abounding to the horizon and having returned, but…

Down the stairs he clatters nearly four at a time, risking his shins with each jouncing step, and Stephen runs across the foyer at a speed to make the hems of his mantle-blues furl at his thighs. Heedless of the bolt of pain of tendons strained by how hard he clamps down upon the door's handle, he yanks it open. Humid summer air is a slap in the patrician face.

He's checked by what he can see — and what he can See — and the stoic Sorcerer Supreme trembles, his lips parting. His throat moves in a swallow.


For normally a creature who prizes order a touch more than nature — or infernal endowment — intends her to, being out of visual sorts could be a flag raised to a keen eye. Sleeves and coat may be much mended, but cared for. Boots are shined to announce the slithering influences of the great Order Keeper, The Watcher of the Windows. Perhaps it's an expression where his sunshine reflects off her surface, somewhat. Rents and scratches happen from cat-fights. Not wasting the depleted energy to repair what's worn thin until safe is itself a reasonable strategy. Exept for the other pieces. Wild hair gone into a dusky halo surrounded by scattered gems and cracked filigree combs: the circlet is intact, somewhat, but so many of those gems are burnt out of their protective charms.

The aura is full of disquieting hues, minor chords plucking haunted melodies that belong more in a Scottish castle on a storm-drenched night, seas tossed to white froth, a rider galloping on a labouring black mare over the bridge with sparks flashing from her hooves. Not sweat-soaked New York. Bits and pieces hang over her, around her, integrated in a confusing jumble of mystical graffiti that might be the equivalent of having an art installation or a building fall over atop her. What clings to her doesn't belong, some hers, so much… not. So much distorted, mystic and arcane, a stamp of scorched power, and something Other. Not her. Old.

She rises when the step trips her up, blinking again. Her hair falls over her face to shadow it, and thus she might ignore another door opening. Scraped gloves barely held together by their seams dust weakly over her pockets, searching for something, coming up bare. Coming up with dust and a cracked array of cloudy glass, loose thread, nothing useful. A bus pass might help. She stiffens when things spin around her, her too-wide gaze invoked from somewhere that burns like a beacon. Hand lifted exposes her to protection against that intense, searing radiance that earns a ragged, throaty noise from her. Like someone tried to strangle her throat or invert her voicebox and replace it with a cheese grater or mandolin, it's not a clear noise.

See, and see, all is wrong, that slick dark violet poison woven through the usual spike that marks her enchanted origins stronger than it should be, but dormant and withdrawn. Like it woke, briefly, twenty years' stony sleep vexed to…

Her name has her backing away, bit by bit, noticing someone is there, but spooking the woman. Clearly. Her heel scrapes on the pavement. A discarded bit of foil wrapper just outside the reach of the wards flashes. She spins, and /runs/.

The Witch presents a vision of chaos barely restrained — a wild thing who knows not the man reaching reflexively after her turning back, his mouth open in a silent plea for her to stay — STAY?!

Stephen makes it down onto the pavement, enough of a sight to make the pedestrians on the street shuffle aside and frown and mutter to themselves. "Wanda?! Wanda, STOP!" He's heedless of his surroundings as he plants his feet. The comfortable interior of the Sanctum is of stark contrast to the humid atmosphere of the city and already, sweat has sprung to his hairline as well as his skin beneath the supple storm-blue battle-leathers.

The air about him pulls close and shimmers as he gestures as quickly as muscle memory will allow him and then…with a harmonious crystalline chime to the Mystical senses, the Mirror Dimension falls down around them both. The practitioners are now isolated within its reflective confines and the still coolness of the place is about as shocking as stepping into a freezer. Stephen stays still where he stands, his scarred hands upheld behind him in readiness for a panicked counter-attack. He licks his lips and tries to slow his breathing, to pull his galloping heart and emotions back under the cool sangfroid of his mantle.

Reflexive reaching for that innate ability, the unmoulded prospect of chaos, might be too much for someone to bear. For that is surely the wild heart seizing out for the only handhold it can find, the snow leopard springing to strike an unknown shadow threatening its stalking path. No lashing tail, no hissing warning echoing off the high walls of a Himalayan fastness. There is none of that to scald the heart, but only the strike of soft soles, scraped up and missing a few bits of tread, against pavement. Red and brown facades blur past, interrupted by the occasional cement front. Wanda knows the secret of vanishing into urban environments; too long left to her own devices in megapolises and harrowing cities, she naturally starts searching for cover in a way memorialized in tales as old as Scheherazade and surely much before. /Aladdin/ was onto something about dashing through bazaars.

Riff-raff, street rat… Sorcerer Supreme can't
catch a break
can he?

Her name radiating from the walls might draw a considerable amount of interest. A photograph from a camera, a dirty look, doors opening. New Yorks aren't so blase as they make out. She skids through a dark alley and darts out into someone's back alley car-share row, jumping over a hood and hissing profanity in two languages after bringing her hand down. Easy to find that speckling of blood bright and smeared, not enough to hurt.

She skids forward into that crystalline path of facets, and all hell breaks loose when it folds over her and crashes into the remaining mystic shards. Glass dust erupts around her, those pieces lost in her hair or still caught up in her coat jingling madly. Strange has the advantage; this is his soul's native home, hers still not quite as rooted in the exact way. Air and sky bend to meet earth and water, even as she reels and holds out her hands. The whirlwind of the fortunosophere around her isn't something that answers consciously, or well, a reflexive collapse pushing a semi-spherical barrier of fractured light around her. Scarlet beams bleed like stigmata from her wrists, even as she goes up, up a foot and some off the ground. Looking around wildly confirms this is still New York, but not, and up is a relative thing when she's unconsciously folding herself in protection. Reflections of buildings might go with her, pallid glimmers on facets. "«No. No, not here yet…»"

Transian. Hooboy.

"«Wanda Maximoff, stop.»"

The bitter plea echoes in the confines of the Dimension in his baritone even as he comes around the proverbial corner of what is an alleyway's brick wall in the world beyond the translucent panings. His palms mapped in carmine roads of failure and triumph alike turn towards her in the universal gesture of peace; they twinge from earlier's attempts at Mystical fast-draw and he staunchly ignores them. Stephen tries again to force calmness and good-will into his voice, even if he's got a case of cotton-mouth to rival an hour spent in the Sahara's noontime hours.

"«Wanda, please. It's me. Stephen,»" he says still in the tongue of the high mountain ranges wherein he learned his skills and taskings. "«Beloved — Rakshasi — let me see you, you're…you're hurt.»" Now his voice breaks a hair. He stops about a dozen feet away and straightens, letting his body language speak more than even words can match.


A name so often spat from harsh lips. A name contorted by the flames, chanted by crowds, a purring promise elicited from dark corners. She clenches her bleeding hands, ignoring the sting from the most part. Spurred to respond to the request, her chin lifts. Scarlet embers flood around blown pupils. Pinpoint sparks wreath a nimbus of gold turning more ruby by the moment. Ruby. Hints of amaranth, there they are, a painful reminder of what the self knows even if the mind does not.

Is it a slap in the face?

Her arm swings back while he offers his hands outstretched and traverses a narrow route scribed between the tangle of Revolutionary-era city planning, back when a single carriage on a dirt track was the highlight of wealth and prosperity. Not much changed except in the past century. Protective, instinctive, that call to hurl something at the approaching Sorcerer right now is sustained, hinged on the cusp of action.

But she doesn't, deliberating or too overwhelmed by what the Sight conveys to her. He is no mistaken iceberg, concealed out of sight. He is the blue whale serenely swimming past her little rubber Zodiac, dominating the immediate surroundings to the point she has to narrow down the aperture of her sixth sense.

Tibetan. Nepalese. They're functionally enough to raise the threat level to 9, and she flinches. "«Did she send you? Another of her tests, then.»" None of her pained English. Scattered bits of memory seize on that, though 'then' falls into scoured, scratchy Sanskrit. Then, a distinction of blurry possibilities. No sign of familiar auras. No skulking cat. Her back is nearly to a wall. The choice is floating up a few inches. More broken bits of the shattered dimension-walk from the previous step into the Mirror Dimension tinkle down like ornaments smashed by mishandling. They lie dull and flat on the ground, sprinkled in a strange trail up to Strange. Not the best Christmas morning one might imagine. "«Or His.»"

Oh dear.

She? His? Each revelation and hazarded deity attached make Stephen straighten another quarter-inch. Each is a body-blow in itself and his hands have dropped to around his waist, still silently directing as the shepherd might for the frightened flock to settle. The lingering glow of frosted-lilac about the centers of his pupils remains at a low simmer. Try as he might to dull his own radiance and bring the celestially-liquiescent roiling of his aura to the placid stillness of the highest lakes, the gods-touched cannot help their luminary output.

Somehow, he's wrenched a semblance of steadiness back into his voice. Back to English it is after seeing the proverbial hackles rise more. "No, no one sent me. «Rakshasi», what happened? Please, tell me what happened to you. Your «Trishul» asks of you. You are safe," Stephen breathes, his expression imploring. "Who did this to you?"

Inchoate emotions writhe and form. The spin of her innate powers do not find a target to lash out at, not yet. They keep her afloat, adrift in that storm-tossed sea of indifference until she can decide upon a path, though Wanda's slow, subtle retreat is one marked by her readiness to act on the scalded reflexes available to her. Sparks of violet blow around in the halcyon storm of pomegranate, red as only one called a Scarlet Witch can be. Gems don't wink in her hair. Some blow away reduced to nothing but dust. Others are dull, lost of their fire. Stripped, cracked things that would turn blind eyes to tell a tale, if only they could. Maybe they can, but here? Here now?

Flagging weariness plucks at her senses, even as she holds fast to the spikes of adrenaline just not enough to hold out a battle against Strange. Threatening, but not quite willing to step over the line. Maybe she knows a greater threat when she sees one. Surely that? Senses reel and shriek, even as her arm trembles, overused muscles protesting the louder. The viscous swirl of energy around her wrist accelerates, a writhing thicket of serpentine bands just looking for someone to strike. Something.

Her confusion shows. Brows fork down, her mouth a hard, unforgiving line usually turned against things boiling out of the dark trying to strike his back. Alone. Gauging. She stares at him, eyes narrowed. The scarlet phosphorescence bleeds from the corners in a lurid mask. Anyone seeing this would know she's not right, not fully human. The aural clang and clamour screams in kinetic notes of broken pianos, unstrung harps, noises plucked and clanked in the halls of a hoary mountain king gone to bed a thousand nights ago and not returned. "«Attacked.»" That much is wise to say. Her lips peel tight to her teeth. "Who are you?"

His mouth parts as the blow drives home. A short sigh leaves the Sorcerer, all of the air remaining in his lungs evaporating even as speech dries up in his throat. This catches afire and clutches as if someone were to close a cruel hand in order to choke out what attempts of futher conversation leave him. Another short huff is tight and whistles across his tongue.

Still, rolling dry lips, Stephen lifts his hands up once more, now with palms upwards in supplication. "I am… I'm Stephen Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme of this reality. I protect it against forces beyond the veils that separate this world from others. I am the Vishanti's Chosen and Shepherd of Fate. I am… I am your own, «Rakshasi». You left on a pilgrimage of your choosing and I wished you well." His eyes fall to the ragged edges of her clothing and to the red blood smeared across her palm, organic in comparison to the nuclear-bright curlings of her own power. "We thought you safe."


"We both thought you safe in this," he says, losing a modicum of compsure once more.

When is his breath not hers? They share that space in the reflection of reality, and its oxygen cycles between them with all the perfumed tastes of words and places visited, intentions made and beliefs spoken. Every moment guiding Stephen through his life from childhood to adulthood brings him here, swallowed into her lungs through cracked lips and flared nostrils. Every instant clawed for survival to the brief respites between elusive spikes of horror seeps into his veins, slipping into his core. She cannot escape Strange any more than her own shadow, and Wanda doesn't seem to comprehend this choking.

The shattered bits of dirt and crystal rise up in a single shaky swoop. She scatters them in front of her as a curtain to defend, the obvious alignment to distorted curves that suggest a magnetic field almost humorous. A throwback to the identity of a father born, a half-sister commanding considerable affinity in that direction. But their jerky slide and snag crashes pieces together, as though she might hide behind the sparkling particles or hurl them at the Sorcerer Supreme in a glitter-burst to blind. Chaotic eddies storm through the iridescence of a broken spell, the components or the aftermath, it's not clear which the bits of bashed dimensional presence are. They only last here with the last gasps of their magical essence because reality doesn't deprive them.

Too many words. English collides, splits, falls apart. The confusion only builds over and over, redoubling on itself like a sick spreading flower. "What? Choose? Pil-gram? I went— I went for… No, it had to be done. It was there." Her eyes narrow and she scours the far recesses of that perfectly cheery street in the dying light of the sun. Under her breath, an utterance: "«Pietro, where are you?»"

Though the Sorcerer flinches to see the micro-grit of the Dimension along with flecks of her own power brought up between them, he doesn't do more than better set himself in his stance on the glinting floor beneath them. His hands remain neutral, not inviting a frightened backlashing on the Witch's part, even if he's got a set of Words in the back of his mind and on the tip of his tongue in censure for any true attack on his person.

"Pietro isn't here right now. He'll get here when he can." The man slides a step closer, his body language a perfect amalgamation of caution and soothe. His hand rises and reaches out while the other stays down at his side, its fingers left to hang in an indecisive state. "Here. Let me heal you. You're hurt." Steel-blue eyes still ringed in the flourescent glow of the Sight fall to her bloodied palm and then rise to her face once more. "Please…let me help you," he says in a tack of gentle firmness.

This grit, whatever it is, came with her into the vicinity of the Sanctum Sanctorum rather than originated from within the same place. It fades the longer it is exposed to time's striving weight, unpicked like unwanted stitches from a ruined bit of cloth. Like the detritus of ruined spells or faded effects that splash her, she carries her wounds away with her.

Blood leaks down her fingers and stains the digits. Her gloves are shredded and scraped, fit for nothing but the rubbish bin. She reaches her hand up to scrub at her cheekbone, leaving a livid streak back there. Storming particles sway and loop around her, scudding in hectic revolutions suiting the twisting mind. He knows to soothe and she does not know how to respond to that, hackles up and backing away by floating a few inches off. Her heels hit a wall. What /is/ a wall, anyway, before being peeled away with a shove of her hand. Specks of blood go. It holds her to stare at those suspended drops blankly, down, down, down

But the blood always knows
A threnody sung, a life spun

She hits the ground in front of him, crashing down in a way that isn't the elegant tucked crouch of a fighter or the way some people seem to step unimpeded off walls. It's a chaotic jumble of limbs, her coat hissing and snapping, jangled bits of blown out charms bouncing off the ground or scraping brick, scattered every which way. She doesn't have the energy to hold out, and Stephen's vaunted insistence may normally win the day. Here, it simply scours the last vestiges of mental strength before exhaustion gives out. Peering into those reserves is … troubling. Oh, it's bleeding back in like it always does, but there's nothing left to give.

Gently — so gently — Stephen bends to kneel beside the battered form of the woman he saw leave in breathtaking surety of health and wellbeing. Now, this…this will require skill and time, mending and a careful eye. A silent whistle rings out through the Mirror Dimension in call for the crimson Cloak. It will no doubt arrive in short time and with much fluttering haste. For now, he reaches to take up her ichor-smudged palm with trembling fingers and with a strength kept sorely in check for fear of further scaring her.

"Trust me, Wanda — trust me for just a little," he whispers past his tightened throat. "You're safe." Squinting, he reaches to try and brush the lank dark locks from her face.

Kindness shown there goes largely unnoticed save for that instilled shudder and an instinctive recoil. Will he read it as personal? Is it up against the impersonal eye of the former surgeon, a ghost of those distant hospitals where the likes of such a woman might likely never arise? The spasming muscles dance as her shoulders roll, protecting the inner self, even as her palms show just how scraped up and cut they are. Ribboned leather won't be easy to peel away with the blood coating her left hand, tearing open the barely clotted wounds.

Better not to see the spell-scorch crawling up her arms, the faint smite marks all along her veins. These attach directly to the bruised violet tincture oozing out from an ultraviolet source, the proof left on the aural view of the skin like the shadows promulgated on Hiroshima's walls when the bomb fell. Crusted dirt, ash, blood, and lesser nameable powders insinuated among the leather make for a slew of messes. But the charms on her belt are blown, the gems on the coronet inert, where the discoloured metal itself hasn't turned fragile as cold iron on a winter morn.

A growled noise at the back of her throat is instinctive warning. Otherwise she is very still. Not like Pietro at all; he'd run. Fight, flight, they have a clear distinguishing factor there. When one cannot fight, play dead?

There's an old song about bears, of course:
Brown, lie down
Black, fight back
White, good night

Why she croons this in Transian is anyone's guess, a muttered elegy, even as her barbed energy sluices back and forth around a cracked drain. So much power kicked out, empty, missing. Thready tendrils of life ease in, leaking through the empty vessel. Mostly empty. She just stares with wide, glazed eyes as if he might slap her any moment. Clearly he's a bear. It all depends what colour Stephen Strange is. Sadly blue bears do not feature in her mythos.

Closer now to her in this rueful juxtapostion of state (for so often was he the one sprawled upon the earth in his idiotic assumption of his personal power reserves and she the one sighing down at him in turn), Stephen can see the damage dealt on both the physical and metaphysical planes. It twists his heart into a hot lump in his chest and so briefly, ideas of revenge in anathema to his triumvate's claiment upon his person entertain him. But no — no — now is the time for healing.

"Give us room," he says to…whom? Ah, the crimson Cloak, it having whisked into view behind him and into the Dimension proper. Where did it go to those outside observers beyond the tranluscent walls who stare?

Surprise, nobody knows!

The relic does grant them space and lingers above the ground in a fall of checkered innards and velveteen outer fabric, its collar-points wiggling as a butterfly's antennae might. Stephen closes his eyes and lets out a slow breath. The first encroachings of his own aura upon the Witch's are subtle, as gentle as the drift of London fog into the city at night. Cool, light, crystalline, fresh — the breath of the high mountains, the taste of freshly-fallen snow, the warm drift of a tropical wave — blue for soothing and mending, relaxation and cooling — he attempts to return some energy to her soul-font as he always did and does again in an act of good-will.

Burnt pathways, crisped energy from whatever depleted her. The impact site remains to be seen and probably struck at an oblique angle, shattering whatever shielding remains. The corset is only a corset with splattered residue from past effects shredded otherwise. Tights won't survive, skirt a scandal and mired in the dusty clay. Only the boots have endured well even with those chunks taken out of the soles and an obvious skid along the ground. No fun or cool moves here with a car, got it?

Can she even drive? No matter, it's easier to teleport. Still, with the Cloak hanging about in all its beloved rubicundity, the woman doesn't even try to track it. She spends all her energy and time holding onto a tight core of power, a last ditch defense anticipated to… well, that's not decided.

Hurt, tired, worn, direly confused, these are not the qualities under which to cast a spell. Not in the Mirror Dimension, not in a warded circle, not prancing on the Siberian taiga being chased by a herd of deranged reindeer (blame Bucky?). It /wants/ to lash out. That hex dares to hitch onto something and scorch. It dances and runs up and along her arms, waiting to get little fangs in. If, if, if.

"«Who»…?" The scorch zinging right back startles her as if he'd found an electric wire and plugged it into her leg. Wanda convulses, staring wild-eyed at Stephen again. Wrong question. Rephrase. English: "What!"

The overload is, however, sufficient to send the fizzling sparks in a molten red firework erupting past his head. Simmering, harmless motes reduced to ash rain all down around him. And his witch?

She's out for the count.

Oops. A watt or a few too much of energy, apparently. This will be a case for little feedings slowly and carefully, as if one might be bringing back a creature from the brink of starvation — the body simply cannot handle richness in more than a tablespoon at a time at best. As one might delicately tie off a suture, he retracts the spill of his own vital-energy back into his person. The residue left behind will begin to heal the fried veins of

Grimacing, Stephen allows himself the first winklings of frustrated tears. One spills over the edge of his dark lashes even as he tries to fitfully gather up the Witch's prone body. There to assist in a flash and flutter is the Cloak, slipping beneath her body far more easily than his blunt and sore fingers can manage. Lifted up in something akin to a gurney-sling, she's able to return to the Sanctum proper after the Sorcerer opens a glittering oculus upon reality. She'll be tucked away into a simple bed in a simple bedroom, all the better to impress upon her that there is safety abounding.

The hours fade into the dark of night…and Stephen Strange cannot find sleep. Tonight, he won't.

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