1964-01-11 - A Touch Of Darkness: Part I
Summary: Baron Mordo sends a parcel to Doctor Strange, and the 'House of S.' trembles. He has with it a warning: a Darkness is coming…
Related: None
Theme Song: None
mordo strange wanda 


The Sanctum Sanctorum.

East Village, New York City.

A parcel arrives.

It is early morning — very early — when someone knocks at the front door to the Sanctum of Doctor Stephen Strange. Standing outside is a man — just an ordinary man, working for the postal service. He is middle-aged, balding, has something of a pot-belly, and bears in his arms a package — rectangular, long, not too different from the cylindrical tubes used for transporting paintings and the like.

Impatiently, the delivery man knocks again, hefting the parcel in his arms. It is even wrapped up like a Christmas Present.


The silvery wards find their master in the library, putting away a new volume he acquired not long ago. Unable to sleep well, as happens from time to time, he had decided to rearrange part of the shelves to better reflect the current collection. Strange pauses in tilting a book back in its place, listening to their report, before lifting an imperious brow.

“Really now?” he asks the general vicinity around him. The wards can’t shrug, but they can swirl like a small hurricane a few more times before whisking down through the floor and into the entryway once more. With a little sigh, he finishes the motion of sliding the book home. Bump-bump-bump, down the stairs in his bathrobe and sweatpants, bare-footed, and the good Doctor opens the door to see the delivery man standing there with a…package. Most definitely a parcel. Most definitely wrapped in decorative paper and complete with ribbon and bow.

“I am Stephen Strange and I assume this is for me?” he asks, curling his toes away from the cold December air creeping in through the hesitantly-opened door.


"Yeah, yeah," replies the delivery man in a typical Manhattan accent. He holds forth an electronic device with a touchscreen and says, "Sign here…" he waits a moment for the signature. "Happy… whatever."

Once the parcel is handed over, the delivery fellow leaves, clutching his jacket around him to ward off the cold. He does not appear happy to be working in this Season — in this weather — and continues grumbling to himself as he gets inside his van, and slowly drives away.

As for the parcel…

Upon unwrapping it, Doctor Strange will find a very familiar object: a sword-hilt, unlike any other in existence. It is almost black in hue — but rather a very, very dark green. Its contours are rather… organic — cylindrical, yes, widening at either end — as though it were formed of a single piece of…

It is not stone.

Nor metal.

The sword hilt is made completely of water — darkwater, to be precise — taken from the Fountain of Knowledge… It is Karl Mordo's sword. He had carried it with him everywhere, since before he and Stephen Strange had met; it was as much a 'companion' to the baron, as well as a weapon and magical focus.

And now… it is here, gifted to Stephen Strange. A note falls out of the parcel. It reads:

Hello, Old Friend.

I shall try to be brief:

The Sword of Sherab, as you know, represents Knowledge — rather, the price of Knowledge. I bore it many years believing I understood that price. I was wrong. I pass it to you in the hope that you will safeguard it — or use it — better than I.

A Darkness is coming; it is coming for all of us. While I am trying to make sense of this Path before me, to balance my own inner Night, I trust you will be prepared for whatever you must face, old friend.

Vishanti guide you, Stephen, and keep the sword well.


P.S. Try to see my 'betrayal' for what I meant to teach: that the shadows are closer to you than you know, even in the Sanctum. I realise I am not the Ancient One. And… thank you, for saving my life. Truly.



The baron is restless.

Amora, the Enchantress is gone, leaving the castle feeling… somewhat emptier — more than Karl Mordo would like to admit. He knows she is only using him, just as he is using her. Still. There is no denying the presence with which she fills a room when she — .

"Snap out of it, Karl," the man rebukes himself aloud. Almost immediately afterward, he looks downward, shakes his head, and begins to chuckle. This is too ludicrous — this infatuation with the Enchantress — knowing exactly what will come of it. "Ahh," he sighs and walks toward the balcony.

It is mid-afternoon.

"Any moment now…" he murmurs to himself.

"Pardon, Your Grace?" asks a male voice behind the baron.

Mordo turns around and smiles at his chamberlain — an older man, likely in his early 70s, with long white hair tied back, half-up, half-down — as the latter man approaches. "No, Alexei," says he. "I'm just expecting a guest."

"Mistress Amora, Your Grace?"

Mordo's smile turns somewhat rueful. "No, I'm afraid not. Prepare some light food, though — oh, and some wine. Gl'rathian Blue."

"At once, Your Grace," replies the chamberlain, who then turns to leave as quietly as he had arrived. Mordo shifts his attention back toward the view beyond the balcony, and smiles… if a little grimly. Transylvania is so beautiful in the fading light.


Holding the parcel, the good Doctor watches the less-than-cheery deliveryman depart with a look of mild displeasure. Nothing like grumpy people to color your day a bit more grey, especially during the holidays.

"Yeah, Happy Holidays to you too," Strange replies with volume centered more around returning social niceties than actually making himself heard. It wouldn't matter anyways, the guy is already driving off carefully on asphalt splotched with places of black ice. With a humph that fogs in the cold morning air, he glances around the neighborhood proper and finds nothing out of place, at least to his human senses. The Sanctum's front doors shut as he tucks the box beneath his arm to make his way to the library.

"Alright, for me, clearly," he mutters at he looks down at the package on the table. Rotating it proves to show naught but his name and the Sanctum's address. "No sender either. Gods below, I hate this…" Rolling up the sleeves of his bathrobe, he gloves his hands in a protective layer of defensive magics before casting a hastily-contrived spell around the parcel, in case of booby traps.

Sorcerer don't play. The last time he opened a package with no name, he was subject to a message from beyond the grave from a blood-stained dagger that should have been inanimate.

Opening the length rectangle package carefully, he lifts up the box to reveal the extraordinary sword-hilt. Those steel-blue eyes nearly shutter off in a suspicious squint as he flips at the speed of the mind through the archived memories of relics — and then the whites of those eyes show.

"No…!" It's a breath of denial that nearly shreds his vocal cords with its intensity. The note, having drifted off to one side, is snatched up and quickly flattened from the crinkling of the grab. He reads through it, mouth moderately ajar, before looking up with a confused and dazed expression at…nothing.

His reaching for the nearest chair is blind, fumbling, and when he finds it, he sits down hard in it and buries his face in his hands. The protective spell about himself and the parcel proper is definitely dissolved by now from fractured focus.

From behind the scarred shuttering, muffled and acidic: "…gods below, Karl, WHY?!" The Sanctum itself has no answer. The silvery wards swish by to inspect the sword-hilt and bristle momentarily at the residue on it, but realizing their master hasn't turned the thing into a pile of Mystical ashes, they reluctantly move back into the walls of the mansion.

But you know who does have the answer?

Baron Karl Mordo. Another groan from behind his hands. Chasing down that slippery warlock is not what he wants to do right now…it's too early for this…

…but it seems like the only answer available to him currently.


Straying through the corridor near the library, Wanda halts when the dissipating activity and humming at her clavicle builds to a feverish pitch. Leather coat and trappings for a day in defense of Earth against infernal troubles gird her, and thus swish in their telltale harmonies when she creaks to a halt. Glancing through the doorway assures Strange has his head practically in his hands, a parcel resting crosswise over his lap, and sufficient cause for his consort to worry.

Worrying constitutes action a moment later. A nudge of her hip pushes the door slightly wider to permit her through, and the thick rug muffles the treaded clomp of her boots. Judgment beats not in percussive notes but strings, the lyrical hum of breath blown out and the low murmurs of the heating system assuring the large building stays inhabitable in the cold.

The watery residue of the sword alone would identify it, had she not witnessed its use thrice over. Delivery into these hallowed halls leaves no question of its provenance, only sundry details to be sorted out from the wreckage of Strange's contentment. Another knife through the ribs, delivered by one who knows the means to hurt, dims her gaze and shapes her expression to reflective calm.

At a distance Wanda remains. He will call her forth if he wants her nearer. "How best can I help you?" So many variables lead to a question. No point in asking how long he will be gone, whether he is out of his damned mind. Pride taken head on leads to nothing but a war of attrition, and grumpy moods.


She knows him too well. Already, Strange has a short list of immediate reactions, one of which is back-tracking the Darkwater sword to its previous owner. This will undoubtedly take him into 'enemy territory'. Maybe she's thought this far ahead in her uncanny way, maybe not.

At her words, he emerges from behind his hands and thumps them down as fists on the arms of the chair. Squeak-squeak, back and forth with the teeth-grinding, and then he rises to his feet. The parcel is not summarily dumped, but rather placed back down forcefully on the table — THUMP. Inside, the sword hilt jumps and settles; the note whafts off the polished surface and down to the floor like a fallen leaf.

Never once is she subjected to the bladed glare of his steely-blue eyes bleeding violet-argent. He's away of the distance she's deliberately placed and while it stings a bit, it also makes sense.

"Listen for me through the pentacle." He says before stooping to snatch up the note and smack it down beside the box. Electrified, all of him, disgruntled and impulsively driven in totality. "Read this, please. It doesn't make a damn lick of sense."

The silvery wards emerge once more and swish around him as he casts aside his bathrobe to the chair that kept him from the effects of having his feet taken out from beneath him. The Sorcerer leaves her to read the note if she chooses to do so. Striding to the center of the room, he stands there and goes through a single cycle of breaths. On the exhale, the air immediately around him collapses inwards before being released back out in a reaction to the emotion-tinged wreathing of his mantle. Thunder-blue, golden gilt of the Eye about his neck, the backwash of the Mystical energy riffles through loose fabric and his bangs. Not a second later, the crimson Cloak slips through the cracked library door with the whisk of silk against wood.

The Ancient One would warn him to center himself further before endeavoring to the task at hand. Truly, electrified is an apt term for his general mien. An imperious outstretching of one hand and the hilt leaps from the box. Wrapping his fingers around the hilt elicits a thin snarl and a glower; it's quickly secured to his belt rather than continued to be allowed to touch his skin.

Those who assume him of distaste for its wielder are only partially accurate. A relic chooses its handler. Just as the Cloak of Levitation reacts in near-synchrony to its master and pledges loyalty firstly to him, so does the Sword of Sherab quietly protest to being held by Strange. The sensation of intensely-cold slickness, like attempting to pick up a deeply-placed river rock in stygian shade, adds in the effect of thousands of tiny prickling bites to warn him to leave it alone.

"I have to go speak with Karl. The Sword of Sherab was his and the relics don't leave their masters without reason." His innards quiver at the reasons he knows of through lore and lesson. A swallow keeps the acidic taste from rising higher in his mouth. "I expect him to talk, not to act on anything. The note — he thanked me for saving him. That one night, when you found me on the dais." She'll remember that one, no doubt. After all, he wasn't exactly guided of his own volition. "I'll be back. Listen for me."


No foe has ever stood in Wanda’s way when it comes to reaching her ends. She may need to divert around an impassable barrier or use ingenuity to achieve her goals, but a grumpy relic wielded by a questionable Master of the Mystic Arts shall not act as a wall separating her from the man she’s pledged herself to.

To prove such takes nine measured steps at full gait, ignoring the aqueous sword complaining at its mistreatment in the most ignominious of situations, discarded atop a table in its wrappings. The US Postal Service knows nothing of what it carries, much less the value preserved in the wavering form of knowledge’s cutting edge.

The swish of her coat against her legs utters a buttery timbre whilst she closes upon the Sorcerer Supreme, and extends her hands to him, palms facing upwards and fingers spread in the oldest of gestures. When he places the letter into her care, she gives the contents a summary once over, eyes slipping down the penned text slower than a native speaker would. This pause leaves time for the Cloak to whisk by in rapid demand, answering its master’s summons and likely giving a contemptuous trill at the other object daring to share proximity to Strange.

For long moments, silence registers except in the folding of paper that returns the letter to its general proportions. Each crease her thumb pad smooths along, restoring a crisp edge. Then she sets that upon the nearest table, unless he chooses to reclaim the unwelcome intrusion upon the peace of mind and purpose they enjoy. Brushing midnight tendrils away from her face, the locks fail to tangle with the stretched web of cords spanning her crown from ear to ear.

“«He proves my sentiments true,»” she answers in Tibetan. Better a language between them, it allows for technical precision English does not afford her at the moment. “«Your light reflects upon him. He defines himself within relation to you. It is inevitable any shift on a path seeks to perturb your gravity. Such is a calling. He calls out knowing you will hear, and yield focus until you solve the riddle before you. A good strategy. Not one I like. Yet your character is impeccable and good. Do you leave him alone upon this path, he might fail, and your regrets would chase you down the years. So of course you will go.»”

The practical admission lands in so many soft words strung together, each a nail into a certainty she has already foreseen without aid of spell or Sight. Her hand skims up her sleeve, rubbing in warmth suddenly absent, and then she offers her palms in solidarity and peace.

Her lips tighten slightly. “Give this man my greeting and remind him of the quetzal. We are not at odds, Karl von Mordo and me. For your sake I will stay a neutral person that you can work and act on your mantle. My faith is in you. Though if he hurts you I am going to bring Grandfather, the children and my brother, and Erik and Lorna, and Illyana to put him to ground and teach him about disturbing my family. If he behaves then he will be welcome to dinner.”

Run while you can, Mordo. Fate is gunning for you with loaded dice and blessed ammo.


She doesn’t argue with him, thank the gods. Obstinate meets obdurate and there would no doubt have been some shearing sparks.

“«Yes, the bird. I’ll check on it.»” Like a shift in barometric pressure, his aura settles around him to a noticeable degree even before he commits to the first step towards her. The offered hands are taken within his, given a gentle squeeze even as he looks down at her solemnly. “«Should you hear my call, Beloved, it will not matter what army you bring. It could be you alone and I would be grateful for it. Somehow…I doubt it. Karl…»” He considers the delicate lines of her fingers and deceptive strength in those joints before meeting her eyes once more. “«Karl has his demons, but this may be an actual apology. I must go.»”

The kiss he presses to her lips isn’t a farewell. It’s a promise that, come hell or high water, he’s returning from this endeavor. Lingering long enough to prove this point, the good Doctor finally pulls away if only to press a final kiss to the knuckles at his lips.

“«Don’t wait up for me.»” Given the rueful shadow of his half-smile, he knows this might be an impossible request, but it’s a request nonetheless.

In stormy-blue and crimson, he walks to mount the platform beneath the Window to the Worlds. Squaring himself, Strange inhales slowly and then begins a series of gestures. Partially calling up a Gate, partially a summoning of sorts; at one point, scarred fingertips brush along the sword hilt hanging silently at his belt and a verdant sparkle of motes joins in the burgeoning cluster of pinwheeling embers in the air before him.

Reality parts and he steps through to his destination, leaving behind the Sanctum to its occupants and Beloved.



The view beyond the the balcony is likely disrupted first by the signature appearance of glittering golden lightning. The oculus widens, engulfing and pushing aside reality, and out steps the Sorcerer Supreme. Sheer luck or showmanship leaves him to stand on the railing firstly, balanced with a sense of knowing himself well (or perhaps aided by the Cloak, which shares his sense of ego in a way), as the Gate folds shut behind him.

Arms folded tightly, a glower on his face, Strange can’t bring himself to do more than this as he looks at Karl. Alive. The man is alive. Last he saw his old…the warlock, it was in the wrapping of a banishment spell meant to send him out of a collapsing dimension. Afterwards, the good Doctor had been apparently puppeted by the gods and dropped off like a pile of wet rags in the Sanctum for his Consort to deal with.

He can feel the eyes resting on him, but never diverts his attention from the green-clad Baron before him. Of course Castle Mordo has its own wards and they have their draw, a weirdly-palpable sensation of off-gravity combined with the incessant voice whispering to step a little close to one of the hidden points. It’s the watching of the Sentinels that he feels and it doesn’t make him any more comfortable to be scrutinized by beings who would take him to shreds given a single thought or Word. Still, they simply wait obediently. No twitching, no slavering, all out of sight like good little spectres and interdimensional nightmares.

All of these commanded by a man who, to Strange’s eyes, can’t make up his mind as to whom he is to the Sorcerer: friend or borderline-foe. Who spent years teaching Stephen to hold his own in an ever-broadening world with barriers that once crossed, could never be forgotten. How can one erase the memory of learning that magic exists? From a respected brother-figure to the one who permanently fractured windows of the Sanctum to one who enabled him to send a hellish demi-god back to its domain in prevention of Hellmouth 2.0 to the cause of risking death to save from impending erasure from reality. The jut of his jaw eventually lessens in time with the drop of his shoulders and silent recrimination becomes a grumpy sigh.

“Karl. What the hell.”

Did the Baron expect anything less from the prickly Doctor?


"Hell," replies Karl, turning to look at his old friend. "A place with as many different horrors as interpretations… and yet apparently universally feared… I believe I might be living there, but for the occasional reprieve." The swarthy man smiles and lifts a hand. His own wards around the castle — darker, deadlier things than those to be found in Strange's Sanctum — fade into the shadows, leaving the room feeling a little brighter.

A moment later, a small, feathered serpent appears in a flash over by the dresser, and flutters its wings at Strange. "Greetingss, Doctor," says the creature in a soft, sibilant voice. "We have been expecting you."

"You remember the quetzal of course," Mordo remarks with a wave at the chimerical creature — a gift from Wanda. "I haven't given him a name yet… but he responds well enough to 'Q'."

"What'ss in a name?" the creature replies, and flies in circles around the room. Mordo smirks, shakes his head and motions for his friend to come join him inside. He leads the way to a sitting room on the same floor — the second storey — with a wide view through the windows of the lands below the castle, where a table has been prepared with a light, afternoon-tea. Alexei, Mordo's aging chamberlain, stands nearby with a bottle of blue-coloured wine.

"I take it you received the parcel," remarks Mordo as he walks toward a chair. The Quetzal follows, coiling around a candelabra for the time being. "And my letter."


Strange eyes the gesturing by Mordo with mild wariness, but naught seems to come of it but a lessening of the pressuring presences around the Castle proper. He has no immediate thoughts for the philosophical musings regarding hell and simply steps down to the balcony proper to equalize footing. No need for dramatic displays at this point, since the defenses have been redacted.

The appearance of the Quetzal brings a thin smile to his face and he eyes the dubious present gifted so long ago that flutters with wings of many colors. “Hello, Q.” Polite if not a bit cool, his reply. A small resentment lurks in his heart that it was a gift, but the dregs of illogical jealousy are all but gone. Perhaps a few more encounters, more time still, and he’ll wish his blessings on the supernatural being.

Following the warlock into the Castle proper is akin to taking the first step into a cave known to be inhabited by a legendary creature; will it talk or will it bite? The Sorcerer draws on his experience as diplomat to retain an air of calm composure even if his stomach bubbles a bit. He knows he can hold his own against whatever gets thrown at him initially — the question is how long can he last against a concentrated effort? Still, he’s inclined to believe, as he approaches a chair across from Karl, that his old…friend, there he thought it — isn’t out to trap him with magic. Maybe with a conversation over tea, it seems. The gentleman with the silvery-white hair half-pulled back seems more butler than bodyguard and after a careful once-over with a touch of the Sight, he’s filed away formally as ‘butler’ by the good Doctor. Now he can proceed.

“I did, and I brought it back.” Standing beside the formal dining chair, he carefully removes the Darkwater blade’s hilt from his belt and places it on the table between them. Darkest jade nearing black, the color at the edge of human vision staring into cave pools, flowing in design and clearly still uncomfortable being handled by Strange, it sits starkly between them. The Sorcerer stretches and clenches his hand once before folding his arms; the hilt slime-nipped him again in displeasure. “I seem to remember you telling me that the relic chooses its bearer. It sure as hell doesn’t want anything to do with me right now and quite frankly, I think it’s holding a grudge.” Said relic is given a glower. “But we can worry about Mystical items and their propensities after I hear more about this Darkness you wrote about.”

Sitting down in the chair, he tries to get comfortable. The crimson Cloak adjusts itself as needed to avoid being sat upon and Strange then gives Karl an expectant look. “Well?”


Karl sits down, staring at the hilt of the Sword of Sherab on the table between him and Stephen. He is silent for awhile — not merely to consider taking the relic back, but also to answer his old friend's question. "The Sword is not the only thing holding a grudge," he murmurs under his breath, barely audible.

"I cannot take the Sword back," says he, finally breaking his silence properly. To demonstrate, he picks up the weapon… but the blade (which appears usually as an ever-moving, ever-flowing edge of dark green water), remains inert. Mordo holds it up, appearing sorrowful. "As you can see, Stephen," says he, while still looking at the hilt. "This relic has… rejected me. It would appear it feels I have some learning to do before it will let me wield it again."

He puts it back down on the table.

"The safest place for the Sword… is in the Sanctum. Despite… everything that has happened, my old friend, there is no one I trust more to keep it safe." Mordo reaches for a cup of Darjeeling tea, poured by Alexei, and takes a sip. Smiling at his chamberlain, he murmurs a 'thank you', and settles back in his chair.

Then his expression turns grave.

He hasn't forgotten the question about the 'oncoming Darkness' he mentioned in his letter to Strange.


Spoken softly, the comment about resentments is lost to the good Doctor, though he does note the movement of lips. He knows from experience better than to hare off after what was missed. If the Warlock meant for him to hear it, he would have said it to his face. As frustrating as Karl can be, the man is at least brutally honest in his own way.

Strange’s eyes widen a little at the demonstration of said grudging blade. Gods below. Karl really can’t wield it at the moment. He frowns consideringly at the sword-hilt and the scenarios begin flickering through his mind at the speed of thought. Steel-blue eyes shift from it to the speaker across the table from him. Despite everything indeed…

Mordo may appear most grave, the Sorcerer himself rolls his lips inwards, and neither of them seem happy in the least. A gathering of glowering practitioners with knitted brows at the moment.

“It’ll stay safe in the Sanctum then,” he murmurs into the silence even as he shifts in the chair. This is fidgeting in lieu of drumming fingertips on the table or keeping scarred hands wrapped around a cup of tea. After all, Karl has driven home the point that overweening pride and confidence can bring him low. No tea for him, not just yet. “I’ll…put it in one of the glass cases, with the same protective enchantments as the others.” He means the ones that prevent the relics from choosing handlers of their own volition. A long history of the potentiate coming to the Sanctums and greeting their new relics won’t be broken over a tenuous friendship. Perhaps it remains unspoken and realized by the Warlock, but he’ll need to come to the very place he utilized to teach a hard lesson in order to ascertain whether or not the Darkwater Sword wishes to sit comfortably in his hands once more.

“This Darkness.” The quiet dogged determination to get an answer resurfaces once more. “Do you think it’s influencing the decision of the relic?”


"I have no other name for it at the moment," Karl replies, referring to the 'Darkness' he had mentioned in his letter. He is somewhat relieved now that Strange takes his gift of the Sword seriously — after all, a relic does not give up on its keeper for nothing. Snapping his fingers, he floats a small plate of sandwiches over to himself, as well as pouring two glasses of wine.

"It began with Sham-Horoth," Mordo continues. "He was afraid of something — a spider-god living in perpetual shadow, it is not hard to imagine him hiding — so at first I paid it little attention. It did strike me as odd that such a being would agree to an alliance at all, but given its fear… it makes much more sense now."

The baron pauses to eat some of the sandwiches.

"Then I began to hear rumours throughout what you might call the 'mystical underground' — our own little version of the so-called 'criminal underworld' — something or someone is moving in on the territory of others: Plane-lords, hidden-wizards, the… 'mafia of magic', perhaps. It is all very hush-hush — and I found it difficult to gain much information. So far. I thought perhaps you had heard something — felt something — that I had missed. Whatever could have these beings so scared… even if they are often on the wrong side of the law, should interest us both."

Mordo sips some of his wine.

"Oh, something I did manage to find out: those slain were supposedly drained of magic entirely — their bodies, the rooms in which they were found, everything around them. Rumour has it that each crime-scene is a… 'black spot', as if one were unable to get a mobile signal there. Odd, no? They are trying to keep it quiet… to maintain the illusion of control, naturally. Does any of this, as the Mundanes would say, 'ring a bell', old friend?"


The Sorcerer’s nostrils flare and somehow he keeps his temper quiet as he listens.

Wong would be side-eyeing him suspiciously, no doubt wondering if this was the self-same Stephen whose initially-impulsive nature drove the monk to true baldness.

Therein lies the reasoning for the Spider God’s alliance with the Warlock during the attempt at a lesson gone all wrong; Karl is right, even if everything else about the situation is either questionable or outright against the teachings of the Ancient One. The Spider-God would not have allied with anyone connected to the city and teachings of Kamar-Taj without excellent foreplanning against everything but treachery from the other half of the binding agreement.

A pensive line drawn atop one side of his goatee becomes his fidget as he squints, thinking hard and fast.

“Fortunately, you run in circles that I am not privy to with my mantle.” He doesn’t mean insult, but the smile Strange offers up with wry and a bit edged. “I dreamt something, yes, and your discoveries make sense in light of it. A swath of fabric, as wide as infinity, fluid like water and glittering with life. Jagged holes cut from it, burnt, melted with…acid,” he murmurs, disturbed by the memory that makes his eyes grow distant over Karl’s shoulder. “Empty, devoid of substance, like you mentioned. That no one has come forward to me…”

He rests an elbow on the table in order to bury half his face in it. “It could mean that they fear the strength of the mantle. It could also mean they think they can solve the issue on their own or maybe ignoring it will make it go away. Convenient, if it does, though I don’t think this is a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’.” A muffled huff of a laugh. “Gods below, if it were that easy.”

Steel-blue eyes rest on the Warlock once again. “I understand why it would deserve my attention. Why does it interest you, Karl?”


"Isn't that the question…" Mordo replies a little darkly, glowering with muted tones across the table at his old friend. He drinks a little more wine, has another bite of a sandwich, and then offers Strange a less-than-warm smile.

"I do walk in circles to which you are not privy," says he in a lighter tone of voice, the glowering gone. "But that is not to say that I do not care what befalls the Planescape — regards of one's 'social circles'. Really, Stephen." The baron smiles a 'mildly chiding' smile, quietly enjoying this part of the conversation, and not afraid to show it — just a little.

A moment later, the amusement is gone. All that is left behind is the sombreness of the moment.

"It should be enough to know that I care, Stephen," Mordo continues, setting down his wine-goblet, leaning back in his chair and steepling his hands together, fingertip to fingertip. "Your dream indeed aligns perfectly with my own investigations. Those who have suffered a loss are very loath to admit it — if the magic has been burned out of their seat of power… it leaves them vulnerable."

And now the baron's voice goes very soft, very grave. "It also means that anyone who investigates such places will likely find their own magic will not work. I have not been able to confirm this in 'my' circles, as you call them. No one is willing to venture into these… 'black spots' to try. The question is…"

And he pauses.

"Are we?"

Baron Mordo looks at Doctor Strange as if he already knows the answer.


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