1963-10-24 - Old Friends Part I
Summary: Mordo shows up on Strange's doorstep with a strange way of getting his attention…
Related: None
Theme Song: None
mordo strange 

There is more than one way to send a message.

For a master of the Mystic Arts, this proves especially true. On a foggy morning in the Fall, Baron Karl Mordo finds himself standing just up the street from the home of his friend (and fellow practitioner), Doctor Stephen Strange. Dressed in a simple, yet elegant suit, Mordo surreptitiously inscribes runes in the air (hidden from mortal eye), just outside the wards Strange has placed about his house.

After some patient effort, the spell is complete.

An illusion falls down about the Sanctum Sanctorum. To any onlooker from without, it would be invisible. Never there. Those with the Sight would see hints of the illusion's presence, if not the image itself.

To anyone WITHIN the Sanctum, looking out of a window he (or she) would see the rugged, frigid snowy mountains that actually surround the monastery where both Strange and Mordo trained.

Every detail of those mountains is exact.

Even the smell and chill of the snow.

It is flawless — right down to the image of Stephen Strange himself (at the time only an apprentice) chipping and hauling rocks from a broken stone wall, sweating away in the cold: punishment for failing a test set for him by the Ancient One.

Mordo smiles to himself; no doubt the casting of his spell wound draw Strange's attention in due course. The illusion itself is hardly going to deceive him — perhaps surprise, even amuse. Stepping back to sit upon a nearby bench with a newspaper in his hands, Mordo murmurs to himself:

"There's no place like home…"

Buried in his research into the rituals of counter-summoning the Hellmouth, it takes more than a few minutes for Strange to realize that something in his peripheral vision is different. The wards aren't helpful in the least; after all, Mordo's clever calling card was cast beyond them and they are ultimately simple-minded things, not even considering for a moment to warn their master.

It's the swing of the pick-axe, a blur of dark contrast against the paleness of the snow, that makes him glance over — and then look again with a turning of deliberate intent. His gaze narrows at the image before him. It's easy enough to remember the feeling of half-frozen sweat dripping down his spine — and who had delivered the initial summons that led to the punishment?

Of course.

Closing the book with a 'hmph' and censured smile, Strange makes his way downstairs and opens the front door to the Sanctum. He glances right and then left and then spots the spellweaver-in-question, looking oh-so-innocent behind the crisp pages of a daily newspaper. Retreating briefly back into the foyer, he pulls a thick Belstaff coat about himself. His dress shirt is not nearly warm enough to withstand the brisk wind rushing through Greenwich Village.

The front door locks itself the second his touch leaves the handle and Strange clatters down the front steps to approach Mordo. He can't quite sense where the illusory spell splits the facet of reality until he strides through it and it leaves him with his shoulders briefly up about his ears in a gut-reaction of foreign magic on his skin.

Glancing back over his shoulder, the good Doctor is greeted with the sight of an empty lot. His moue of rueful amusement is deepened by the charming sight of a wind-blow trash bag dancing merrily across the dirt.

"Oh-ho!" His voice, laced with mock amusement, should reach Mordo before the man himself. "Oh-ho-ho, I have split my sides over such a thing." What room there is on the bench allows Strange to sit down and lean back against the slats, giving his old friend a wry smirk. "Do you remember what I said to the Ancient One that led me to haul rocks like that?"

A little test, all in good fun.

Karl Mordo puts the paper down.

Smiling amiably, he folds it over, then folds it twice and gives it a gentle pat of his hand before turning his face to look at Stephen Strange. "I always find the Times — and every other newspaper — to be such reliable light entertainment, don't you, Stephen?" he asks, deliberately avoiding the doctor's question straight away.

"They report upon the goings-on of a speck of rock, upon a speck of a Plane in a speck of a cosmos… as if it were the only speck that matters. Ahh… why must men be so small?"

The baron lifts his chin.

"Ah. Yes, of course. I believe you attempted to illuminate the Ancient One as to decline in virility attributed to the onset of advanced age in homo sapiens…" He frowns. "Or was that the time before? No, no: you fumbled a simple transmutation spell, and turned one of the monastery stained glass windows into… stone? And told the old fellow, 'It was like that when I got here.'"

Mordo chuckles.

"I'd never heard that excuse before…"

A bark of laughter as Mordo both answers the question correctly and brings up another memory entirely.

It had been the monastery's equivalence of the good old 'behave yourself' talk. As if he had listened at all. At the time, he wasn't even aware that he was the sole reason for the discussion — no, reminder — involving all of the new initiates. That type of distraction, while natural, was unacceptable here. Strange's steel-blue eyes had been resting between the shoulder-blades of one of the women kneeling near the front of the ordered lines of respectfully-attentive initiates. Lustrous hair, she had, and she knew that he had been admiring it for some time now, along with…other things. His nod was delayed, the only one out of all the initiates, and he was called forwards in tones of gentle command by the Ancient One once everyone was rising to leave. It had taken a disrespectful moment longer to reach the master — after all, he had been watching the young woman leave — and after resettling before his mentor, he had received a curtly cutting warning about selfishly disrupting the atmosphere of learning in the monastery. Of course, young in his apprenticeship and comfortable enough to allow seeping of old habits back into his manners, Strange had responded in an equally sharp and virility-insulting manner. The result: the Ancient One giving a weary sigh and proclaiming that some time fixing the high walls of the monastery's outer reaches would, quote unquote, 'cool his ardor'.

The second time, Strange remembers with a smile and stroke of his goatee, was indeed involving that window. He never did fix that window. Whoops.

"Well, no, you hadn't, because you hadn't dealt with me before," he replies to Karl, his grin full of prideful amusement. He had been a handful, but not for long. The Ancient One, in line with the title, had been slapping down prideful apprentices for a long, long time.

The good Doctor shifts the collar of his coat higher about his face as he glances around the street. Across the way, an unknown elderly neighbor of his seems to be staring at the illusory absence of the Sanctum and looking quite perplexed. He glances over his shoulder again and then sighs, looking back to his old friend with a rueful smirk. "Alright, you've got my attention, dispel it and we'll talk."

Karl Mordo smiles.

With a nonchalant wave of his hand, the threads of magic holding his rather artful illusion in place unravel. The false image surrounding the Sanctum Sanctorum falls apart like a tapestry, and Mordo lets out a small sigh.

"I was just a little proud of that," says he, glancing aside at Stephen. "I'm here… with a proposition. I thought you might be interested, and well… just ringing the doorbell felt so… pedestrian."

He shifts the newspaper to the side on the bench, and it evaporates in a little puff of smoke. "A proposition best discussed indoors, I think. Is the kettle on?"

A glance over his shoulder to ascertain that the Sanctum now stands proudly in view once more and then another at Mordo, one eyebrow arced, as he considers his old friend's question.

The kettle is always on, of course. Tea drinking is a hold-over from his apprenticeship that will never leave his habits. To think that he had savored coffee, with its brash dark taste, over the subtleties and myriad of flavors available in the various tisanes he now created. Shame. Once he had figured out how to enchant the kettle to remain forever-heated and the cups themselves to hasten the brewing process, Strange was a very happy camper indeed.

"I suppose we can talk over tea, yes," he finally says with a small smile. His rise and subsequent strides to the front door of the Sanctum are brisk. He needs to check and see what blend is currently ready for consumption. The doors open at the very moment that his fingertips press against the sigil-carved dark wood and he calls over his shoulder to Mordo, "Shut the doors behind you. And don't mind the wards, they'll be curious at first. Just act neutrally and they won't bother you."

Much, he adds mentally. The silvery wards swirl about him in greeting and pause, a note of hesitance in their inquiry. They sense the brushing of Mordo's aura on Strange's person. He is a guest, treat him as such until I command otherwise, the master of the Sanctum thinks to the protective spells. They retreat a bit and wait ever-patiently for the Baron to cross the threshold. Once he does, they'll investigate from a respectful distance, their focus like the tentative greeting of a reserved dog.

"In here," Strange calls from the living room. He thinks he hears the bootsteps of his friend in the foyer and begins the process of brewing the tea.

"Of course…"

Mordo's voice echoes toward the living room… from the lobby. Strange will find him there, standing with his arms at his sides, eyeballing the floating, mystical wards while they… examine him.

Glowing tendrils of energy poke and prod in various places while the baron heaves a sigh of exasperation — not to mention impatience. He watches one magical rune-like ward float past his face and goes to speak.

"Is this all entirely — ?"

The ward flashes a different colour, causing Mordo to hesitate. "I'm a friend, you — ." The ward lifts a single tendril to the baron's face, and he rolls his eyes. "I understand," says he in a murmur. "Be quiet and wait."

A few minutes pass.

When Mordo emerges in the living room, he is unharmed — but definitely somewhat 'put out'. It would appear the wards have left him alone, but he still brushes down and tugs on his suit. "Your watchdogs are… friendlier than I last remember," he tells Strange with a wryly-quirked eyebrow. "I've used razors that don't 'cut quite so close'."

He makes his way toward a couch and sits down.

"May we speak now, old friend?"

Strange glances up from pouring the tea. At the angle of where he stands by the fireplace, he can see the wards poking and prodding at Karl. A wry smile, shake of his head, and he stops tilting the pot just in time to prevent an overflow.

Even as he's sipping off the extra tea to prevent spillage, he hears his friend enter the room. The good Doctor takes his tea as is, no sweetening or cream in this particular blend of herbs, and sets his tea cup on the small side-table to his high-backed chair by the hearth.

"Cream or sugar, Karl? I can never remember," he adds with a small laugh. He'll stay by the tea stand until he hears his answer. Though, while he waits: "At least the wards behaved. I've only had to threaten one person with them and it was unfortunate. I got the impression he didn't care in the least. He was wound-up at the time though, hmph. Missing girlfriend." A thinning of his lips; Strange can make lightly of it all he wants, but the information he'd given the man in exchange for a promise of future aid had been paramount in another adventure entirely that he had yet to hear of. "Anyways." A dismissive wave of his scarred hand. "What did you want to discuss?"


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