1963-10-29 - A Touch of Chaos
Summary: Each for reasons of their own, Wanda Maximoff and Baron Karl Mordo find themselves tracing disturbances along the leylines in the East Village of New York City. They meet under…'impish' circumstances…
Related: None
Theme Song: None
mordo wanda 



So very dangerous.

So very… tempting.

It is the smell of chaos that has brought him here.

The baron of Castle Mordo (which is located far away in the fog-enshrouded mountains of Transylvania) walks through the streets of New York. The skyscrapers are behind him now, and he finds himself in Westchester.

It's a long way from East Village — assuming he walked the whole way.

He did not. Dressed in a fashionable suit, he practically strolls down the sidewalk — watching cars go by. It is early afternoon, nearing that time when parents are on the move to pick up their kids from school.

The mocha-skinned man looks up to see a family with two young children walking towards him. White, middle-class — living here, it is easy to tell — talking among themselves about how the day has gone.

When they see Mordo, however, the mother quickly gathers her children to her side — and crosses the street. Mordo glowers faintly; in truth it barely registers on his face, but nevertheless he finds himself irked. Instead, he turns his attention back to the phenomenon that brought him to this part of town in the first place.

He is tracing magic. Chaos magic. Something or someone has been casting spells around here, and believe it or not this street almost exactly follows a leyline all the way further into town. The effect is rather like vibrations on the web of a spider.

Baron Mordo might just be the spider…


Leylines dance with the pulse of the living world. Energy running down their proverbial veins carries the flavour of the communities and practitioners gathered on their shores, but otherwise, like water, have little underlying taste. That’s not to say they lack their own signatures.

Over time, a leyline inevitably accrues such a melange of impressions that a skilled mystic can possibly identify direction or source of distilled power. Tap into the right spot, and it’s possible to say ‘That was poisoned by New York’ like the spillage from mine tailings.

Wanda sifts through those flickering strands, her fingers spread wide. She sits in someone’s garden, the homeowner absent, and its autumnal glory washes her in tumbling leaves, bushes flaring crimson, and dying grass underfoot. A bird bath serves as an ornament and occasional water source for diligent chipmunks running between oaks hunting acorns.

She combs out the bubbles and the dissonance, in effect doing no more than trawling through the mystic current to feel what disturbances cause the back eddies clotted by arcane debris. Something has left its signature here.

Something uncannily familiar, and therefore worthy of contempt.

The bystanders, if they looked over the fence, might think she’s simply enjoying the chilly air. They probably would not look twice at a girl in a red leather coat as dark as wine, though they might arch an eyebrow at her risqué fashion. But didn’t Paul and Mary Styles have a niece in England? Yes, that would explain it. Those English girls dress so daringly!

Eventually she finds what she seeks, a strand of black midnight buried under the translucent flow of the surging lines of ephemera. A hook, a blight.

“There you are,” she murmurs in Transian, darkly proud, and she latches a proverbial tracker with a simple twist of her fingers. Magic pinches the strand of power, giving her somewhere to follow through town.

Rising from the Adirondack chair, she walks out through the swinging fence door back towards the town.


Mordo stops where he is, when the apparent source of the magic leaves her playing with the leylines to turn back down the street in his direction. He tilts his head to one side, observing Wanda Maximoff quietly, his lips upturned at the corner in the faintest of smirks.

"Magnificent," he murmurs in refined English, his eyebrows raised as he lets her come toward him. He would say more — perhaps offer a greeting of some kind — but the pulsing of the leylines has attracted other attention.

Closer to Wanda, there is a burst of brimstone — smelling foul as ever — and a four-foot tall imp hops through. Sallow-skinned and pot-bellied, the point-eared creature leaps high over a fence and takes a run at the same place from which Wanda has just come.

A passing driver sees the imp, panics, and veers out of control — heading straight for a streetlight. The imp sees Wanda, turns around and bends over — flashing its yellowish backside at her in mischief and contempt.

Then it starts siphoning power out of the leyline.

Mordo tries not to laugh. For the moment, he makes no move to intercept the car, nor to stop the imp. It is fun merely to observe. He does, however, begin inscribing faint runes in the air before him — preparing a spell of some kind.


She should know better than dealing with a demon of any sort with words. Her brother, he resorts to some pithy statement mocking the pot-bellied stove on legs. Or he might call it a pot-bellied pig.

He is not here. Her trace tethers Wanda to the source of corruption, and she drops her focus on the line.

Instead the screech of brakes pull her focus with the worn, fraying instincts honed by trouble.

She doesn’t even think, the witch tearing through the forms of a spell that brings three spiralling bands of runes and sigils enfolding her wrists. Radiant light sparks between her palms, and a corresponding shock of garnet visible only to the sight erupts around the car.

It won’t be enough to kill the momentum entirely, but deflect the slowing vehicle from the pole.

The same pomegranate shade of her eyes betrays her as she draws in breath, the reflexive sorcery perhaps not as elegant as she might like, but having a second to work is sometimes rough.

The importance of Mr. Imp, though, is going to reveal itself. With some pointy prodding, as need be.

At the last moment, the driver of the vehicle — a woman, with kids seated in the back — turns her face and torso away from the windshield and the impending collision with the streetlight…

To find herself screeching to a halt, just to the left of the solid, metal and concrete pole. The car instead hits the curb, bouncing upward a bit, then it comes to a halt just a few feet away from a trashcan.

The baby in the backseat starts crying.

The mother immediately turns around to check on the safety of her children, while a man seated across the street looks over the top of his newspaper, eyes wide with horror. Setting the paper down, he runs across the street to the car, to lend his aid.

In that instant — he, the mother, and all the children, suddenly take on very vacant expressions…and remain exactly where they are, oblivious to all else. The culprit for this fugue is a watery rune hovering above the car; Mordo stands nearby, left arm extended out fully to the car — palm flat and upward — his right arm bent at the elbow, but with his right hand flat and palm down, held about a foot above his left bicep.

"Deal with the imp," he tells Wanda in that same, well-oiled English accent of his. "These unfortunate civilians shall mark none of it. Run alone, dear girl. That demon intends nothing conducive to healthy living."

True enough, black oily smoke erupts around the imp — smoke that it breathes in. Smoke that distorts its body. Smoke that — when commanded — lances out toward Wanda with the ferocity of a multi-headed hydra!

Smoke is hazardous to one's health.


Good thing Wanda, unlike most of Eastern Europe, never took up cigarettes.

She shudders when time slows around her, the manipulation the mark of a talented practitioner indeed. Slow turn required to mark the right direction, the splay of her dark hair paints a veil over her shoulder, blotting out the shape of a bench, a falling chip bag, and leaves thrown by the frozen breeze.

Mordo is an unknown. It reads in her face, the mask of distrust narrowing her eyes.

The black mantle around him is nothing to the fat imp overdue on its stay. Her fingers curve and she spins her palms in a versed flip, capturing the dissipating ball of energy that formerly held the car. It surges and scarlet lines erupt around the grey-black mass.

Charcoal shades come pouring backwards from their own origin point, bending on impossible lines and angles to intersect themselves, barring and chaining the infernal monster inside its own makings. Seeing out is bound to be tricky, but those thin rays of foul discharge slam back into its fat stomach.

The effort bends her forward, sinking into a low stance, knees bent and back leg mere inches off the ground. But it holds.



The imp's shriek is ear-splitting. The last thing it had expected was to see its own magic turned back upon itself, and it frantically attempts to dispel its own curse before the thin tendrils of inky smoke connect with its stomach.

One, two, three… tendrils vanish into thin air before the cage completely forms, although it is not enough. "Get you!" it shrieks again at Wanda. "Make you pay! Make you wiggle lips on yellow sphincter yet, red-witch!! AAAH-HAHAHAHA…GGGGHH…!"

The demonic creature doubles over, clutching at its belly. Pressing up against the thin, inky bars of its cage, the imp manages to lacerate its bulbous belly in several places. Quite deeply too. Although it cannot see very well through its smoky prison, it still tries to hurl a second curse at the Scarlet Witch — a withering, entropic spell to rot limbs and internal organs.

"Take your time…" Mordo tells her, his voice slightly strained. It could be with annoyance at the imp, or the effort at holding several people locked in stasis. Either way, the comment should not be taken at face value.

"Demons have a way of escaping prisons, my dear," he tells her after a moment. "Deceased demons on the other hand are pleasantly docile…"


The only reason to hold that cage in place is buying time for something that comes much more naturally to her. The red smile the imp apparently desires never forms, Wanda’s face as cold and remote as a statue contemplating the fall of its shrine, the empire at its feet.

The brittle wave of flashing energy melts through the soot, defying the efforts to banish the curse, and discharging the effects inwards. She twists it up like an onion dome, and the cage holds as her focus shifts.

Fortunately curses are a stock in trade, though they rarely count strictly as malignant.

“Bad imp,” she says through her gritted teeth, the dullest admonishment.

Then she flings her hand out in a barring gesture, palm out, fingers pointed straight up with her thumb at a sharp angle away from her hand. The mudra bears a very ancient quality to it - Indian, Nepalese, these would be similar. Buddhist, Hindu influences abound.

The effect, on the other hand, is probably invisible until the shockwave passes through her spell, uninhibited by whatever it is. Shapes form and bend, one hex striking another curse.

In her mind’s eye, the imp’s effect shuttles back upon itself. She doesn’t even unweave the effect, merely reflects it upon the ugly thing.


The screaming defies… description.

Mercifully, it is over quickly. For an eternal heartbeat, the little imp stares in horror back at the Scarlet Witch, before it begins clawing at its belly in a futile effort to stop its own curse…

From consuming it whole.

The demon's abdomen collapses in on itself; its bones shatter, and it crumples to the grass like a poorly-made plasticine figurine. The scream become a gurgle — until the demon is no more than a steaming puddle on the lawn.

In a matter of moments, it will not even be that. The magic stolen from the leyline returns to its source, and the continual 'pinging' — not unlike a throbbing nerve — ceases.

Mordo gives Wanda a raised chin of approval, and then releases the civilians inside the car, and upon the side of the street from his chimerical grasp. Eyes blink. Lips gasp. Heads turn — but by the time they go looking for either Wanda, Mordo… or the imp, the baron has already concealed the two practitioners of magic from their sight.

"Now," says he with a satisfied smile upon his mocha-hued face. "I think introductions are in order, dear girl." He walks over toward her, tugs at the hem of his suit jacket, and extends a hand toward her. "My name is Mordo, and it is a profound pleasure to meet you, Miss…?"


The sight of anything dying in extremis brings Wanda’s stomach to flipflopping, her throat closed around a lump. No matter how many infernal spirits she banishes, no matter how many monsters she slays. It never really eases up.

That’s how she knows she is still human. Mostly.

Time restarts with a jolt around the girl putting her hands to her temples, pulling on the garnet-studded headband spanning her crown from ear to ear. Assuring nothing is too much out of place, she turns, slowly withdrawing back from the grass. Unsummoned demons are one thing, but free-roaming ones sometimes explode.

The Sight reveals the traces of the casting, explaining the uncertain way people react. Saviors and demons vanished. How much is that the story of the world, the invisible realms behind the veil full of such battles and action as mankind will never know?

No matter. Manners demand their due. She puts her hands into the pockets of her claret coat, the front laced up tightly enough to conceal the outlines of her leather corset worn underneath. An oddity given today’s fashion, to be so forward and so backwards. So he expects a handshake? That makes her pause. “Hello, Mordo.” Her voice is distinctly, unquestionably foreign. Transian meets Romani meets Slavic languages galore. “I do not know of you.” If she’s expected to, the hint of suspicion hangs in the balance. New York is not telling her everything it should.

“I am Wanda.”


Mordo remains standing there for a few moments longer, hand extended… before finally turning it palm upward — and producing a single rose. Be it magic or merely sleight of hand, he offers the flower to Wanda; oddly enough, it is the same crimson hue she tends to wear the most often.

"Consider it a token of admiration, nothing more," he tells her with an expectant expression upon his face. "And I wouldn't worry about not knowing of me — before now, of course. When one lives in a world of several billion people, one may be forgiven for not knowing of someone, here and there."

A pause.

"You wield Chaos Magic, Wanda," says he with his eyes slightly narrowed. "Dangerous. Intriguing. And you're a long way from home. One wonders… who it was that taught you…" He leaves the sentence hanging — a question that is not a question.

"You haven't been in New York long, have you?"


Do not take things from strangers.
Do not trust charming men with white smiles.

Do not answer the questions mysterious persons offer.

Wanda has long been hardened against kindness and simple gestures of friendliness. Everything comes with strings attached. Nothing in her world is ever free, least of all magic. The rude lack of a handshake warrants a comment, assuredly, but she stares blankly at Mordo’s palm until the rose forms.

A scarlet rose.

Unless he objects she smiles faintly at him, and will slowly take it, gloves preventing contact and a shield sigil captured in her thoughts.

Just in case. It never hurts to prepare, least of all when something could explode in her face. “I will concern myself. You say your name with the weight of a name that is known. A name by itself.”

Her fingers turn the stem, the flower nodding in a curtain of its own heavy musk. Wanda stares through her downward lashes at Mordo, gaze completely consumed by the Sight, hints of powdered garnet shimmering over the honey-brown of her irises.

“Magic.” Expounding in detail, she says softly, “It is simply magic, is the name here different from others?”

Which answers the question that is question, but not the rhetorical one.


Mordo is quiet for a little while.

He is simply content to watch this extraordinary young woman — so incredibly powerful as well — and consider the possibilities. At the forefront in his mind is the serendipitous nature of their meeting — here, on the side of a street, in New York City.

"Quite," says he after that long silence, his dark eyes gleaming. It would appear this is his answer to both of Maximoff's comments: regarding his name and how it is spoken, and the nature of magic. "Although as much as 'magic is magic'…" he goes on to add. "It is not. Ah, but this is hardly the time nor the place for such a discourse — however intriguing."

The man standing before her is… a mystery, and he knows it. Those dark eyes of his hide plethora of secrets, hanging like forbidden fruit from a tree shrouded in fog. Nevertheless, the Witch's Sight is far from entirely thwarted. The fact that his true nature is so annoyingly concealed… is revelation unto itself.

His is a guarded soul.

And the darkness hanging as a veil before it… is as much a part of that soul, as it is a deliberate screen against intrusion. He is not to be trusted — not entirely. Not by far. The Scarlet Witch has the added benefit of not having her perceptions clouded by years of friendship, or the need to 'see the Good' in Mordo.

Doctor Strange lacks this particular advantage.

From the subtle smile upon Mordo's swarthy face, it might appear that he is well aware of this fact — and he does not seem to mind that Wanda knows. "I have a feeling, you know…" says he with a minor head-tilt to the left, his eyes never leaving Wanda's own. "That we two shall be Seeing more of one another." And there is no mistaking the whisper of emphasis upon the word, Seeing. Now what could he mean by that…?


Darkness wreathed around a man is nothing new. Darkness that resists the wide-eyed gaze of a witch, born to a line of seers, deserves a second look and a great deal more care.

The Sorcerer Supreme might hope for the best. She wears her ash-colored glasses.

“You seem very interested in someone uninteresting.” A statement parsed a few times before she says it, Wanda struggles with the English but makes no efforts to translate her words into something universally understood. She could, but she doesn’t.

The rose twirls around again, any thorns missed by her gloved fingers. Around them the world continues, unaware of the invisibility draped over two practitioners.

“Then you are aware,” a subtle stress would hint of deeper meanings, “of the magic and the people who use it here. What is wise to know?”

Let them start there.


"It is wise to be careful whom you trust," Mordo tells her quite seriously — and he could just as easily be warning her against trusting him. "And wise to remember that there are many paths to the same goal, young one — if yours is survival… keep an open mind, and remember words have power. All words."

Coming from anyone else, such advice might be considered… trite. Anyone could literally say it… to anyone else. In the baron's case, there is deliberate temptation in his choice of words — particularly referring to 'many paths' — and his cautioning of Wanda comes from a place of understanding.

He, too, knows Chaos.

But does Doctor Strange? Mordo never mentions the Sorcerer Supreme, but his warning about trust absolutely includes his old friend. The mocha-skinned man smiles, and clasps his hands together at his abdomen, his eyes on the Scarlet Witch.

"We'll see each other again, Wanda," he assures her amiably. "Perhaps often. I won't keep you any further; remember to be careful…" and he lowers his chin a bit. "But take the moment when it comes."

The edges of Mordo's clothes begin to fray — peeling away into wisps of inky, dark-green vapour. It starts at his arms and torso, then spreads to his legs until little remains of the man but his smiling face and dark eyes — watching.

And then he is gone completely.


The rose starts to unwind, the petals wilting away into vapour and the central stem springing up, no longer rigid and verdant. Its stiffness fades into a curve, and the sparks of red in its head form glittering eyes, an inquisitive tongue. The tiny fork tastes the air, divining for truths that are not truths at all. Its triangular head turns towards Mordo, peering at it.

“You do not answer the question. Have a care,” states Wanda, letting the thorns on the snake sink into tiny fangs of an asp or a cobra. The remainder form a scaled pattern that dazzles as much as it does not quite reflect the day’s sunshine, what little slips through.

Vision stutters around them as the pedestrians continue to the accident scene, checking upon the crying child and the frightened mother. They still do not see the dissolving Cheshire man grinning at the dark-eyed witch.

She releases the serpent from her wrist, and it leaps into the air, opening a pair of rainbow wings. Brilliant cerise feathers burnished copper at the fine, articulated bones at its back steep through the shades of cherry and carmine, reaching frosted white-blue edges.

It flaps on a shimmering comet trail, the dancing serpentine curves of its body swaying in a curlicue. The air vibrates to a hiss in tongues forgotten by men

“One thorn of experience is worth a whole garden of warning, ssshadow-brother.”

It arrows forward to Mordo.

Wrapping her coat around her, Wanda sets out on her trail, following the leyline that forms a surging column of power for those with a sense for its majestic presence. Not the roar of the converging lines in New York, but a solid, healthy presence carrying off all manner of craft — whether dark summoner or chaos witch or sorcerer supreme or sassy little snake.


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