1963-11-01 - Old Friends Part III - The Mistake
Summary: The two sorcerers return from an expedition to the 'Dimension of Eight', seeking answers regarding a certain Orb. It did not go well for them…
Related: Old Friends Part II - The Orb
Theme Song: None
mordo strange 

Fade in…


The alley behind Doctor Strange's home — the ostentatiously named Sanctum Sanctorum — is experiencing a case of… metaphysical dislocation. That is to say, the fabric of reality in this tiny, insignificant space has been torn, and pulled into a vortex of sorts. A section of brick wall has vanished in the spiral — taking also with it part (not all) of a big, square garbage container, and some defaced advertisements on the ground.

Nearby, a stray tabby cat manages — barely — to escape the vortex, by running full pelt down the alley as more things, such as debris, cardboard boxes etc, discarded tools, are drawn in. The cat shrieks and hisses, ultimately choosing to dive head first into a storm-drain.

It survives the plunge, and being swept away — preferring this experience to a funnel in reality itself.

The vortex converges on a single point, a point which becomes clearer and clearer in the sea of black around it. It is a gray Orb, spinning, spinning, spinning as its magic connects two points in reality — across entire Planes, dimensions — to form a bridge.

Of sorts.

Out of the vortex comes a man — swarthy of skin, clad in a tunic of deep emerald, with Oriental-style armour over the top and a sword sheathed at his back — who barely manages to avoid hitting the garbage container as he rolls to a stop on the wet ground.

The man — Baron Karl Mordo — grunts, and slowly tries to look back at the portal formed by the Orb. "Stephen?" he asks in a strained voice. The baron is bruised, and bloodied — he has a puffy lip from taking a blow to the face — and his tunic is torn in several places. "Stephen?" he asks again, pushing himself up onto his hands and knees.

"By Hgagth's Weeping Beard, we are never doing that again…"


A flailing set of limbs and rumpled crimson Cloak is summarily projected from the vortex and rolls to a halt nearby to the Baron. Strange is left to cough and groan even as the tear in reality spits out the odd Orb in question, the curio that had led them into the Dimension of Eight in the first place. It bounces off of the storm-blue battle-vest of the Sorcerer Supreme, narrowly missing the diadem of Agamotto hanging from his neck, and the man pants as he watches this reality sew itself back together again with a near-silent pop.

Rolling onto his back, he coughs again and then breaks into painful-sounding laughter. "No…never again," and the good Doctor says before uttering a final laugh and dragging himself into a sit. He's as slow to get up as Baron Mordo and can't put much weight on his left foot; it turns out that the rocky grip of __'s mate, the not-so-patient __ (emphasis on that middle creak, less intensity on the ending grunt) is unforgiving to human bones and tendons. He has a nice bruise forming over one cheekbone and a rather large splotch that will develop across his ribs within the next day or so.

However, as he picks up the Orb, with its oddly-muted surface, he locates the beginning of the never-ending script and taps at the point with his fingernail, lifting it to show Karl. "But — we have our answer."


"To what question, old friend?" Mordo retorts, still trying to stand up. He goes to speak again, but is interrupted by a wince of pain, putting a knuckle to the side of his mouth. "'How far is too far when dealing with royalty among rock-elementals?' or 'Is the Orb a transdimensional teleportation device, and somewhat on the 'unreliable' side of the spectrum?'"

He chuckles, despite the pain, and manages to stand up — if only by putting his back to the wall of the building opposite Strange. "One would think you'd have learned by now — from dealing with the Ancient One." And Mordo sighs, speaking as though reciting from a scroll or tome:

"'All rituals and sacraments must be observed in the presence of dimensional beings when travelling the planescape.' By Kthl, the beings of Eight have no concept whatsoever of — what was it you told them? — ah. 'Hurrying it along already'." Mordo looks across at his old friend, with a mixture of awe and exasperation, a hand rubbing his bruised jaw.

"I should never have sided with you. Notwithstanding… the Orb works." That's something. The Sham-Horoth-damned thing works.



Good old Karl, always there with a lecture.

Strange focuses mainly on squinting down at the Orb in his hand, steadily chipping away mentally at the decryption of the tiny writing that loops around and around it.

"I did not say to 'hurry it along already'," he retorts after a tiny cough. His steel-blue eyes flick to the Baron leaning on the alleyway wall across him from. "I said, 'We need to go soon'. I even added 'thank you', but someone had to whisper a grammatical correction and by that point, my grammar was ruined. Of course __ would have been offended." 'This' being __, the one who nearly crushed his ankle into bony pulp. The good Doctor hisses as he tries to put weight on it — it is not having it and swelling up more by the minute. They need to get into the Sanctum and get to the tea, the kind that rekindles their stores of Mystic Art.

"Here, the back door is this way," and the Sorcerer gets to doing an odd hop-along sort of walk, where he places minimal weight on his injured ankle. Any offer of help is summarily rejected, along with a mutter of "It's right there, Karl," and then they're entering the side foyer to the Sanctum.

The wards swish and swirl around them both, noting the various injuries, but eventually ascertain that their master and his guest are alive and safe for now. Luckily enough, it's not too far to the living room from where (why, thank you, Sanctum, and your ability to foreshorten actual distances via magic!), and Strange is pouring water over two sachets of the rejuvenating tea.

"Okay, so — now that the Orb can be decrypted, what's the next step? After all, you started this mess." A sly smirk over at his old friend, even as he stirs a cup of tea.


Karl Mordo sinks into a chair, wincing slightly in pain — it would appear one of the rock-elementals did a number on the baron's posterior during their 'expedition' — and gradually relaxes. He'd resort to his own healing magic, but the tea served here is no less effective, and requires far less effort.

Especially since Strange is doing all the work, pouring it.

"I didn't merely 'liberate' this from the Sham-Horoth 'spider acolytes' for selfish purposes, my old friend," he starts off by saying. "There was a theft from my own castle in Transylvania — a few objects, some of them quite potent, all of them of great personal value." Mordo winces a bit and shifts his position on the couch.

"Mine is not the first 'sanctum' to be, as the Americans say, 'hit'. There have been other thefts — all of them leaving behind traces of webbing, and a few corpses. Ghastly." Mordo motions to the Orb and continues with: "If this delightful bauble can lead potentially anywhere, perhaps we should use it to… rob some robbers of their ill-gotten gains?"

He smiles, a little tightly given his obvious discomfort.

"Whatever the Spider-God wants with a cache of arcane paraphernalia… it can hardly be good, don't you think?" It may sound — just a little — as though Mordo has known all along what the Orb was capable of doing, although he acted completely ignorant of this when he asked Stephen to translate it for him.

Then again, perhaps this is just a random happenstance — finding and unlocking an Orb of powerful translocation right before the revealing of a trans-dimensional threat. Translocation is generally well within the abilities of both sorcerers in the room — one might wonder where the Orb can go, that Stephen and Karl cannot…


Mordo's cup of tea is delivered to him without a single slop (magic!) despite his old friend's bum ankle and Strange gimps back to the tea stand. He focuses on making his own cuppa as he replies distractedly,

"It depends on who's got the cache and who wants into it, I suppose." The tea is hot enough to lightly scald and the Sorcerer grimaces as he licks at his upper lip after his testing sip. "It doesn't make us much better than them, breaking and entering. And this is rather convenient, Karl," he adds with a small smirk. "You could have just asked for my help straight-out instead of stealing the Orb. Yes, yes, it probably does lead into the lair of the Spider-God." This is said quickly to overrule any sort of objection by the Baron in that moment. "But…I haven't had any visions or sense of warning involving it. Not even through meditation." No doubt his old friend knows of how fate can tug at the senses of the Sorcerer Supreme. "Maybe it should be left here, in the Sanctum, for now. No need to go on a wild goose chase."


"If we're casting the veil of subterfuge aside, my old friend," Mordo starts by saying — pausing only to sip some of his tea. "Delicious. I didn't want to involve you at all. The items stolen were mine; I discovered I wasn't the only victim in the course of resolving my own misfortunes."

He pauses to look seriously across the room at Strange.

"Sorcerer Supreme or no, you are not all-powerful, Stephen. You won't sense everything, and you cannot hope to be everywhere. Still… maybe you are right. I should have simply asked, regardless. I'm not so… uncertain of myself that I cannot admit when I'm wrong."

Disappointed, but not sour, Mordo drinks more of his tea, taking a moment to enjoy its restorative properties. Then he chuckles.

"You have to admit, though — that was a good deal of fun," he remarks with a smile. There's a part of him that would almost trade anything for moments like this with his closest friend.

In some ways, his only friend.


Back when he was Surgeon Supreme, Strange would have reveled internally at seeing the haughty brought low. Now, he just observes his old friend offer an apology, in his odd way, and smiles faintly as he then looks down to his tea cup. The wave's edge of his own tea dances just beneath the rim of the white porcelain as he swirls it once before downing half of it in one sitting. A grimace — still too hot, now he's gone and burned his tongue, and he tested the weight on his left ankle, which is clearly not having anything to do with weight-bearing at the moment still. Not only that, but his ribs on one side, where they got whalloped, are getting stiff.

"I don't know what you're talking about, in regards to not being everywhere. That's what reputation is for," and he makes his way over to his high-backed chair with a hop-step or two. Settling in, he lets out a tired sigh and then glances over at Karl. "It's awfully nice to know that most practitioners think twice these days about summoning up things they aren't supposed to. Granted, it is annoying when the well-educated ones do it." He rubs at his eyes before sighing again. "And fun? You can barely sit. I don't remember you being such a masochist," the Sorcerer states with a full laugh.


"People change," Mordo replies laconically, giving Strange a faint smile.

There's more to those words than meets the ear, but for now… the swarthy sorcerer means them sincerely. "If not entirely…" he adds, giving Strange an arch expression. That was for the 'reputation' comment. Fortunately for the 'supreme one', his friend is too tired and too sore to give yet another lecture on 'ripples of Fate' caused by things like reputation, and how 'being feared in a corner of the Nguegthl'etth Dimension is not the same as having eyes and ears there'…

So he leaves it to a single expression and those three words: 'if not entirely' to do the job for him. Then the baron goes back to enjoying his tea. "I don't know about you, old friend," says he after a while. "But I've worked up quite the appetite. Dinner at the Bar With No Doors? There should be time for exchanging some stories, too."


"Yes. They do." Words returned in a fence of sorts, all in good fun, but the Baron will no doubt note the hint of defensive edging in his old friend's tone. Strange isn't terribly surprised that the man enjoys his tea rather than engaging in more quick-witted banter and he settles too back into his chair to finish his brew.

His eyes linger on the fireplace, with its eternally-crackling wood (much too cold and rainy these days to let the living room get a damp chill), and become half-lidded in tired thought. There's no real track to it. He lets it meander about aimlessly, perhaps idly hunting down some musing that he hasn't combed through in detail. The Orb…still an odd little thing with odd little powers. The Sorcerer is very tempted to not give it back to Karl and does spend a half-minute of time dedicating a pensive frown towards the glowing embers.

Then the Baron speaks again and Strange turns his head to one side to listen, never breaking his gaze on the fireplace. "I'm amazed you can still eat food." Carefully, with a wince, the good Doctor sets aside his cup and turns in his chair to face Mordo. "I suppose there's always more teeeeeaaaOW." That stretch didn't go too well. A high-pitched sigh and he swallows thickly. "Healing spell first," he breathes and inhales slowly.

A whispered word after he closes his eyes and the swirl of cerulean magic begins at the top of his skull. The tense lines in Strange's face relax as it encircles his entire body in a constriction of healing before petering out at the ends of his boots. "Karl, need a spell?" he asks as he rolls his ankle in a test — all better.


Karl considers his response.

There's more truth to that question, 'need a spell?' than his old friend would ever know… but he hates asking for help, even if there is a 'larger plan' at work, even if he knows he can trust Strange with… most things. Even if…

"Yes, thank you," he finds himself replying in spite of all his misgivings. Remind me to take you to a little day-spa in Hong-Kong one of these days… the masseuses there work wonders on the spine. I believe some of them are even human… at least two are refugees from a world I can't pronounce — lacking a secondary tongue in the back of the throat."

One should not ask how he knows that.

Mordo smiles.

"Spell first, dinner second. Massage… maybe third."


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