1963-11-05 - Old Friends Part IV - The Game
Summary: In the Bar With No Doors, the two sorcerers discuss matters over drinks, when something happens… something that will change everything.
Related: Old Friends - Part III - The Mistake
Theme Song: None
mordo strange 

Imagine a cloak.

A long, voluminous, billowing cloak.

And someone… pulls at a thread. Everywhere one goes, there is that sensation of pulling — subtle, noticeable… annoying. Vexing. Turn this way, and it tugs. Turn the other way, and it twists. It is there by day as one walks from duty to duty, or pleasure to pleasure. It is there by night, as one tosses and turns in one's sleep. And try as one might, one cannot find the errant thread, or the culprit causing it to tug. Only one thing remains certain as this goes on, day and night…

Sooner or later, it will be more than one thread. Sooner or later, the cloak itself will come unravelled — and the veil of protection it provides…

Will fall apart.

Welcome to the new world of Doctor Stephen Strange…

Fade in…

"Oily, Stephen? She called me — my aura — 'oily'?"

Baron Karl Mordo sits at a table across from his old friend, Stephen Strange, in a corner of the Bar With No Doors. This place is accessible only to those with magic — and who know where it is. It is sacrosanct — neutral territory — for ALL practitioners, no matter how righteous.

Or flawed.

Or evil.

There is no 'evil' here. There is no 'good'. There is only the smoky ambience of a place that looks like it was taken straight from the pages of a 1930s novel — with aliens and transdimensional beings thrown in. A floating bartender provides drinks and meals from across the entire Planescape, catering to beings so different from one another, some defy explanation.

There are even elementals of the Dimension of Eight here… eyeing Strange and Mordo quite unashamedly — but no one approaches. Violence is… prevented. Mordo sips from his alcoholic beverage and frowns reprovingly at Strange. "Your… girlfriend is a Chaos Mage, Stephen. She calls me 'oily' and you… bark like a dog on a chain."


"The Ancient One's beard would curl if he could see you like this."

"Leave the Ancient One out of this," Strange replies tersely. His drink still sits on the table before him, untouched, unacknowledged except for the initial delivery by the floating bartender who is made of mere wisp and sentient substance. "The mantle of the Sorcerer Supreme doesn't deny me the ability to have emotions, Karl."

A beat. "And I am no dog on a chain," he says sharply, "I am your friend — and I am concerned with the information given to me."

Scarred and limber, his fingers curl around the studded crystal tumbler that sits before him on the table's glossy surface. He swirls the amber liquid around the glass before him. It's a specific blend of whiskey and another liquor entirely, something from a Planescape that he tasted along ago and never lost the hankering to try once again.

Why is he here? Oh gods above and below, why even ask himself that? Because denial has become his lifeblood when it comes to Karl Mordo. Because he doesn't want to use the Sight and find that the report is true — that the Baron has succumbed to the lure of the Dark Arts and become anathema by proxy of Strange's title. Because he sent out a spell on the wind, offering the olive branch of a peace talk, and it was received as well as accepted with terms for time and place of meeting.

He reaches up to scratch at the subtle scarring on his neck, from a vampire bite gone terribly wrong, and then pushes up the crimson scarf around his skin. He wears its form in lieu of the traditional Cloak, and daywear of dress shirt and pants beneath black coat in lieu of the storm-blue battle-leathers.

"And yes, Wanda may be a Chaos Mage, but she would not lie to me." A statement that Mordo has to take at face value. "Just…just tell me the truth. Don't make me use the Sight." His light eyes meet the dark visage he knows so well, trusts as near and dear as a blood-brother. "From one friend to another: tell me the truth," Strange stresses quietly.

Mordo rolls his eyes.

"When you took on the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme, it was understood that you'd wear it upon your shoulders and not over your head," he snaps, once again in full 'lecture mode' — but there's more to it than that. "I know Chaos Magic, Stephen," the baron goes on to say, raising his voice a little — at first, and immediately lowering it again.

The debate has now drawn a bit of attention from the other patrons in the Bar With No Doors. No, none of them are thinking 'seems like a fight's comin' on'. It is more a case of…

'Hmph. Lovers' quarrel. Ignore that shit. More drinks.'

"The arrogance, Stephen!" Mordo implores his friend to see and understand. "Courting chaos-given-form, and then questioning me?! The presumption. That you — ," and he motions to Stephen with both hands, held flat and gesturing forward, above the table, " — the great 'Doctor Stephen Strange' will sense everything, diagnose everything, solve everything…"

Mordo pauses and looks his friend squarely in the eye.

"And here you are, wielding the Sight like a bully with a stick — and yet too afraid to use it… For all your Sight, my good, old friend… you are still blind."

The baron goes quiet after that, still locking gazes with Strange, still trying to 'teach'. Beware arrogance. Beware presumption. Beware chaos. Beware infatuation. Do what must be done, if you are worthy of the mantle at all.

In that moment, something happens.

But not here in the Bar With No Doors.

Back at the Sanctum Sanctorum, the wards — all the wards — activate at once. What was once a mere 'tugging of a thread' in the tapestry of Fate is now a widening tear. There are new threads to fill in the gaps — fingers where they should not be, grasping what they should not touch, eyes seeing what they should not see…

The Sanctum is breached.

The Sanctum is breached.

Strange stops swirling the drink before him and becomes very still. It's that same sudden freeze seen in large predators when they sense that danger is upon them and must reveal teeth or claws.

The crystal glass clunks loudly on the table in the silence between them.

"You talk of presumption and then presume that I know nothing of Chaos Magic," he begins, low and cold as glacial depths. "You call me arrogant and lecture me on responsibilities that you have zero inkling of." The good Doctor is slowly rising to his feet, scarred hands splayed across the table's surface. "I have warned you twice now, Karl, about me using the Sight to reveal whatever it is you clearly don't wish to discuss. You are out of chances and a complete — "

And the Sorcerer Supreme's eyes go wide with alarm, showing a great deal of white. In his ears, for his Mystic mind alone, the Sanctum's wards sound with panicked claxons of distress.

"Oh, AGAMOTTO!" His chair goes clattering backwards loudly across the floor and the table is summarily shoved to give him an extra push-off as he bolts for the exit to the Bar. Who knows what happens to his drink and maybe even Mordo's stomach? Even as he runs, he summons up a Gate just outside the brick wall that will lead him directly into the Foyer.

Through the washing feeling of silky magic that defines the Bar's doorway and through the crackling chained-lightning oculus to find…

A sight that leaves him agape and exhaling in a shaky, shocked manner.

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