1963-08-11 - Scarecrow
Summary: Dr. Strange teaches Illyana Rasputina that there's a difference between smashing something and actually destroying it, fulfilling parts of his bargain with Agamotto in the process.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
strange illyana 

Illyana's at least a fairly prompt person— she's precisely on time for the appointment.

Unfortunately, she's forgotten about Strange's wards, because she tries to stepping stone right into his Sanctum. The house reacts rather violently to the unexpected intruder, and deposits her at a high velocity right on her keister outside the front door. Illyana lands with a yelp and a grunt of pain, and with a fitful kick of her bare feet wiggles to a standing position and bangs on the door three times with a hard set of knuckles.

"Strange! It's Illyana! We have a lesson!" she says, not seeming to mind the fact she's standing two inches from the door and yelling into magical hardwood.


The steam rising from his cup of tea is disrupted by his sigh as Strange glances over at the grandfather clock that rises in the corner of his living room. The ornately-carved minute hand seems to tremble, resisting the gears behind its movement, before clicking into place overtop the 12. The thing begins to chime out the hours and in mid-ring, he hears the sound of someone pounding on the front doors of the Sanctum. From a far distance, the Sanctum sends him a brief little note: apprentice, attempt to intrude deflected. He sets aside the cup of tea and strides to the front door.

The door opens silently on oiled hinges and the first thing he sees is the empty street beyond the sidewalk of the Sanctum's property. Then the top of a blonde-haired head registers and he drops his gaze. He takes in her slightly-rumpled and irritated appearance with a little twinkle in his eyes, though he does try very hard to keep a smile from curving the corners of his lips. "Right on time. I appreciate that immensely," he says as he steps back, the movement signaling allowance for Illy to cross over the Sanctum's threshold.


Illyana shrugs at Strange. "Clocks work. Would be rude to be late." As if that's the only explanation anyone could ever have for not being punctual! She leaves the lambent energy of her stepping disc to dissolve into nothingness and heads inside. She's at least wearing human clothing, now, though it's a garish combination of lightweight green miniskirt, garishly black and white chekered leggings, and a pink sleeveless blouse. And she's barefoot again.

"What are we working on today?" she inquires, reaching bag to start tugging her hair into an ugly, lopsided ponytail to keep it out of her way.


"I thought we'd continue our last lesson regarding fine control of high-risk spells," he replies as he shuts the door behind his apprentice. Her fashion sense has evolved, somewhat, and he wonders briefly if Agamotto, with all of his Alice in Wonderland appeal, has been whispering in her ear. As for himself, the Sorcerer Supreme wears sensible clothing for arcane work around the Sanctum's loft: black dress pants and a white dress shirt, cuffs rolled up to his elbows, overlaid with a gold-trimmed crimson vest. He's not sporting the Eye of Agamotto currently, but it will come to him the moment he beckons it.

He leads the way up to the loft, where they will continue working. He's set up an interesting surprise for Illy and wonders how she'll respond it. As he begins walking up the Grand Staircase, overlooked by the stained glass window, he glances back at her. "On a side note, did you forget about the Sanctum's wards again? You'll need to be more mindful about it. I don't want you getting injured."


Illyana looks like she's adopted the Liberacci school of fashion— throw colors together and see what sticks. But she follows along obligingly, moving up the stairs, and deliberately not touching anything. Some of Strange's artifacts have aggressive anti-theft devices, as she'd found out quite early on— despite his admonishments.

"No, I didn't forget, I just… wanted to see if they were working," she says, with a sniff of disdain for the idea that she could have FORGOTTEN.


"I see." It's all that Strange can bring himself to say without either rolling his eyes or letting the building amusement within him out. They enter the loft after he opens a heavily-warded door and the space is much larger than it appears from either the entryway or from the Anomaly Rue window. He's learned over the last few weeks to move the artifact stands, with their protective 'non-shatter- cubes separating items from air (but apparently not misaimed magic), and there now exists a massive amount of floorspace. The artifacts are pressed up closely against the walls now, supposedly out of reach. His soft-soled boots make minimal sounds as he strides towards the raised wooden platform that rises beneath the Anomaly Rue window.

At the far edge of its circular design stands…a simple scarecrow. Nothing terrifying about it. It looks as if it was plucked from a field of corn, from its raggedly-stitched clothing down to the errant stalks of straw that emerge here and there from its packed center. Strange pauses at the edge of the platform and gestures at it as he glances back at Illyana. "Your lesson for today, apprentice." That twinkle is back in his steel-grey eyes, the one that always seems to show when he's set up a decent challenge and can't wait to see the results of it.


Illyana stares at the scarecrow. It's obviously a target of some kind, and as she steps onto the elevated platform, wards trickle around her to contain excess magical energies that might be loosed. Illyana examines the scarecrow with her mystical and mundane senses, walking at it in half circles— preparing for it to attack, or strike, or react to her.

She gets within a couple feet of it, then simply reaches over and pushes it off the stand. It collapses in a heap.

"Defeated. I win. I will take my victory cake and then go home," she states with an insoucient brightness, clasping her hands at the small of her back.


Once, back when he was just getting used to this position of mentor, Strange would have been quite irritated with the proceedings before him. It had taken him a number of times to begin the habit of thinking not only beyond the logical steps his apprentice could take, but the illogical ones as well. Still, the young woman's action of shoving the scarecrow over rather than immediately attempting to disintegrate it is enough to make him scrunch his nose and frown.

"I think you've missed the point, Illyana. When will you ever come across an enemy that you can push into submission? And also," he adds, his lids half-dropping over his eyes as he nonchalantly points over her shoulder, "never turn your back on one."

Soundlessly, the scarecrow has regained its position on the platform even as Strange was talking. It floats forwards a few feet over the wooden surface and one of its jacketed arms, ending in a stuffed glove, has cranked back. With a whuffing hiss, the glove slaps into the back of Illyana's head and a small cloud of golden dust and pieces of broken straw puff into the air. The scarecrow then takes a lithe hop backwards into its original position.


Illyana's level, smug gaze vanishes, eyes flying open wide with shock. Shock turns to coiling rage when she turns around to stare at the Scarecrow— the crude smile painted on it somehow mocking her now more than ever. Fists coil near her waist, shaking and then she reaches to the air and /yanks/ on a fistful of magical threads of energy. No subtlety, no grace, no careful motion— she simply unleashes all the raw, blistering heat she can at the Scarecrow in a fit of pique.

The feedback sends her /flying/ backwards with the force of an explosion, landing fifteen feet away and skidding on the hardwood. She rolls to her sized, dazed and singed, and her eyes don't quite focus properly as she casts her gaze around the room.

"Wha— wha—" she stammers, trying to speak.


He can't help the wince that makes his shoulders rise around his ears briefly as he watches the backlash of her attack. Perhaps he shouldn't have woven the spell to be so…literal in its response. The medical professional in him is berating him sharply as he walks over to Illyana and kneels down beside her.

"Alright, alright, take a moment," he councils her calmly as his gaze darts around her person. She doesn't seem to be too much worse for the wear, other than the ash and burn marks on her clothing. He has a feeling that he'll be blamed for the clothing's demise one way or another. "As you can see, it's going to redirect overly-powerful attacks at you. You'll need to find another way to destroy it." He rises to his feet and then offers her a hand. "You can do it."


Illyana sets her jaw and waves off the help, getting to her feet. "I can manage," she growls, flexing her fingers to throw more magic at the fray.

She goes down twice more— hard. Once from a furious burst of raw kinetic force aimed at tripping it, then another as she summons frigid frost and tries to leave it in a block of ice.

Kneeling on the ground and gripping her blue-tipped fingers under her armpits, she shivers and shakes, first-degree frostbite clinging to her fair, pale features.


Strange admires her tenacity (though he'd never say it aloud) and, with a mentor's patient mien, he watches her continue to take the fight to the scarecrow. It's when she ends up with crystalline patterns of ice across her skin that he steps up to the edge of the platform.

Slowly, with no menace in his reach, he extends his hand and stops just short of Illyana's frostbitten skin. With a quiet word and flex of his fingers, he wills an influx of soothing heat into the areas, not so much that it damages it more, but that it relaxes.

"If I may offer a thought: perhaps smashing it is no longer a viable option." One corner of his mouth rises momentarily. "You know that opening a rift takes skill. One must wield the magic as one does a scalpel," and as he says this, off to one side, he stretches out his other hand. Its scarred surface takes on a brief golden sheen before the eldritch power swirls up and gathers around the tip of his pointed finger. He draws a vertical line in the air and a breath of icy salty air leaks through the thin slice in reality. His blue eyes shift to her pointedly. "There is more than one way to skin a cat."


Illyana bares her teeth at Strange in a snarl, though it's hard to say if she's agreeing or threatening him. Shivering violently, even with the warming spell, she gets to her feet and forces her shaking hands into the air. She turns her fingers to claws, reaching for the invisible threads of power in the air— connecting all things. She considers them one by one, then finds the sole strand she needs and narrows her eyes, tying it off with the scarecrow.

She gives the string the lightest of tugs, and a rod of force the size of her thumb hits the scarecrow's forehead with the force of a fired steel rod, sending a *whumpf* of hat and dust out into the air behind it.


Strange has retreated a few steps after watching Illyana rise to her feet. He is concerned for her once again as he watches the anger draw sharp lines in her face, posture, and the white-knuckled shape of her hands as she draws power. He traces the lines of his goatee with restless fingertips as he watches and then his nervous movements stop.

He can see her considering and his heart skips a beat. Could it be…? With 'impulsive' as her middle name, could it be that Illyana had actually /listened/ to him? He finds himself watching with bated breath, arms folded tightly across his ribs. He's so tense that the Sanctum momentarily checks in with him, giving a ping of concerned inquiry. It's a slip in his own self-control and he wills away the worried wards with a gentle mental apology. He blinks and then the scarecrow has been hit precisely between its eyes by a stab of force. From here, he can feel the thing's magical essence unravel. It lets out a weak shriek of fearful pain and then slowly, like a falling tree, thumps to the surface of the raised platform. As an extra touch that he felt would appeal to a frustrated Illyana, it catches a-fire and burns away rapidly into an outline of ash. From behind and to the side of her, he brings his hand together in a polite golf-clap.

"And there we have it."


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