1964-01-14 - Strange Observations
Summary: Noticing an inconsistency in Dr. Strange's aura, Merlin comes to him with the conclusion and the possible solution alike. Plans are considered, talks must be had.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
strange merlin 

((Also lovingly known with the title of "OH CRAP", in recognition of the incantation within the pages of the Marvel Graphic Novel, "Dr. Strange Into Shamballa."))

It's been a quiet day. At least, as quiet as it can be for those of mystical awareness. Perhaps even more unusual is that Merlin has caused any stirring amongst the wards, leaving them to wander elsewhere and pay him no mind. He has spent a great deal of the day either staring at the fireplace in the study or wandering around the Sanctum, sipping on his tea and humming some long forgotten tune.

His idle walk has finally brought him to the top floor of the Sanctum, amongst the many relics that are held there. As he stands before the window designed with the symbol of the Anomaly Rue, he sips his tea once more and calls out to the wards. "If you'd be so kind, and should the Sorcerer Supreme be not otherwise terribly preoccupied, would you please inform him that I'd very much like to speak with him?" There's a pause and he bows slightly to the wards. "Many thanks."


The wards have but to travel across the space of the Loft and through the darkwood walls of the division between relic room and master bathroom. They find the Sorcerer Supreme at shaving, a most menial and benign task that involves intense focus on his part rather than magic proper.

His steel-blue eyes shift to acknowledge the arrival of the guardian spells and he listens to their message relayed as he finishes drawing the short straight-bladed razor along the remaining hairs that shadow his jaw. "Really now…?" comes the murmur as he flicks shave soap back into the sink from the reflective metal. A hot towel off to one side wipes away excess foam and he eyes the job in the mirror before wrinkling his nose slightly.

Not perfect, but it'll do, especially in light of where he once stood in terms of nerve control within his scarred hands.

Strange emerges into the Loft and spots the old Wizard awaiting him before the Window on the Worlds. He rolls down the sleeves of his dress shirt as he walks over, giving Merlin a friendly smile shadowed with the curiosity that the Witch knows so well.

"Master Merlin. I'll be frank with you — the formality has me a bit concerned. Is it a problem in need of the mantle?"


A patient man, most of the time, no amount of wait would have bothered Merlin. Though there is recognition at the quick response. He bows his head in acknowledgement to the current sorcerer supreme, his tall, pointed hat leaning rather precariously forward. "Sorcerer Supreme." He murmurs softly.

"I apologize if I've worried you. No. It is…'tis not I who has the problem, but rather a solution to a problem that you may desire to rectify." He quirks an eyebrow suggestively.

Glancing back at the window, he smiles and chuckles. "You know, I gave the Vishanti something to talk about, back in my day." There's an amused shake of his head. "When I stepped down as Sorcerer Supreme, I'm not sure if they were sad to see me go or relieved that they wouldn't have to deal with my antics so directly any longer! Though…I was always about to protect the realm, as was expected." He bobs his head slightly as if to say that there's no question that he'd protect Earth.

Clearing his throat, he looks at Strange straight on once more. With a blink of his eyelids, his irises turn a gold colour. "Your aura, while strong, has…ever so slight inconsistancies in it. Ones that should not be there. I believe I know of a way to heal you of this and free your aura to be completely yours once more."


Buttoning a cuff freezes entirely at the respectful motion shown to him and, in accordance with his natural tendencies, Strange grows more suspicious. It shows in the slight narrowing of his eyes, thinning of his smiling lips, and he ventures to listen rather than show outright interest through a spoken reply to Merlin's offering of a resolution…to a problem that he has personally? Color him dubiously intrigued. The old Wizard is unpredictable on a regular basis, but wouldn't have held the mantle in the distant past if his heart wasn't inclined towards dutiful reliance and holding the Fate of Earth above his own. Beneath that batty behavior and rarely-grumpy persona is a core of faith in all things good.

"I can't speak for the Vishanti in regards to your track record as Sorcerer Supreme, but they likely appreciated all that you did in their name and for Earth." It's a diplomatic and utterly truthful response on his part. He gives a bow in return. "I trust you and your judgment in this matter. Please, go on."

Those soft blue eyes beneath their craggy white brows shift to burnished aurum hues and the impact of the old Wizard's Sight upon himself is processed in a near physical sense of contract to his own aura; it bristles and spreads farther from its naturally-fluid state in damson-blues, reflecting his innate reaction of supressed surprise. The words that follow cause him to fold his arms and return the look with a shifting of color within his own irises, towards a frosty-violet. On the defensive, but not aggressively so, merely taken aback.

"Inconsistencies. You should recognize Wanda's influence." No need to explain that. Merely living in such close habitation can cause a blending of auras with Mystics. There might even be a twinkle or two of Merlin's own aura flitting joyously about the edges of Strange's aura in this moment! "But you don't mean Wanda's aura, do you…" A swallow betrays the acid rising in his stomach.

The splotches of forest-green, a leafy luster to them, were woven in so long ago and with such subtlety in the heat of a moment that left him defenseless to it. It's uncertain if the Sorcerer even knows they're there unless he actively entertains the idea or searches for them himself.


"Oh, yes. Perhaps you're right. The Vishanti would not have permitted me the title if they were not grateful, I suppose." Merlin twirls his beard as he continues to ponder, gazing at the man in front of him. He takes a deep breath in and lets it out slowly.

The old man is hardly surprised at the reaction to his aura-gazing. "I have seen so man auras, so many presences, in my long life." He reaches out a hand as if to actually reach toward Strange's aura. "When I get to know a person, and their aura, I can see, I can feel, when there are parts that are just wrong, and unwanted. This is a skill that you shall learn, if you haven't already. And these remnants…they do not belong to Wanda. Nor do they belong to me."

He pauses, furrowing his brow. "I believe they belong to a certain enchantress, if I'm not mistaken. An enchantress of Asgardian origins." His words are cautious.

"I know of a way to cleanse yourself, your aura, and be better for it." He gazes over the aura one more. "This does not come with out risk, however. You could clear yourself of everything you care about. If this goes wrong, you will not remember any of the people you truly care about who have influenced your aura."


The Sorcerer looks haunted. Merlin's observations don't carry the weighty impact of a diagnosis in terminal disease, but rather a lingering malaise sure to remain without proper intervention. The Enchantress…oh gods… Pride keeps him from doing much more than rolling his lips inwards and tucking his chin, his gaze flicking everywhere but upon the old Wizard as he thinks hard and fast. There's a good portion of him that wants to grip at his hair and lose his temper, but logic stamps out that fire with drowning cold. It wouldn't solve anything and cause the Sanctum great disruption.

Strange knows how to do this, he does, but why check himself? Why? He's practically invincible with the mantle — not invincible, not if the Asgardian practitioner managed to mark him somehow — and with such skill that no one else but Merlin has noticed — why hasn't Wanda said something about the blots, maybe she didn't notice, how did she not notice? — Maybe her incandescent presence overwhelms them and the parts woven into his camouflage themselves like chameleons… Oh gods.

All of this flashes through his mind even as Merlin touches on the inherent risk factors of cleansing his aura. Possible danger yanks his attention back to the present and he meets the old Wizard's eyes once again. "Amnesia. Permanent? What would cause this?"


"I know your…dislike of the woman." And that's putting in mildly. Merlin offers a sympathetic smile. "And I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, so to speak." A teacup full of tea appears, floating in front of Dr. Strange. "Drink. It will help calm you. This must be quite disconcerting."

He furrows his brow once more. "And please, don't be annoyed with yourself that you did not notice. Perhaps it's because I've been looking at auras longer, or because I've seen more Asgardian auras. It could be any number of reasons why I spotted this. What is important is that it has been spotted."

He waves his hand and in the space between them, a small vision of a lake appears. "This a lake in Alban…Albion. Or Great Britain as it is now known. Its waters contain magical, healing properties. Those, combined with the proper incantation, shall release the undesired portions from your aura."

The vision fades and Merlin looks at the Sorcerer Supreme closely. "The incantation and the water…they work with your aura in a similar way to a memory spell. Which is why, if it goes wrong, it could affect your memory. Permanently."

He hesitates for a moment, practically wincing at these next words. "I should inform you as well, there is an ancient crone who protects this lake and determines one's worth to enter the lake. She…likes gifts. Of sweets. Bringing her sweets may help to gain her permission." It's the story he spread years ago, and he has been determined to stick with it.


Presented with tea, as always, and it's a moment's pause before Strange plucks the cup and saucer from the air. A calming tincture, he can tell, with notes of chamomile and Valerian beneath hops, and he sips at it almost grudgingly. He's supposed to be the tea provider. It's just a prickly reaction on his part, perhaps understandable in light of the fact that, as Merlin says, it's bad news and more worse still that he didn't catch it.

Don't be annoyed at himself? That's like asking rain to cease being wet. Perfectionists dislike failure as much as the proverbial cat hates said rain. Another sip lessens the acidity in his stomach and though he may watch the way the tea swirls in his mug as he shifts the demi-tasse within his scarred grip with a displeased moue, Strange is listening.

And now watching, as the summoning of an image appears in the air between them. With shrewd gaze, he observes the lake and its surroundings before it disappears with Merlin's dismissal. Of course it wouldn't be as simple as executing the perfect cannonball into the glacial-blue depths. It had to be connected with memory magic, that gut-watering sorcery he chooses not to toy with. Morally, it repulses him. Personally, it's a moderately-unnerving concept. Forgetting a person is one thing. Forgetting how to swallow liquids? It's the ultimate curse he'll toss only in the face of unforgivable disrespect.

Of course there's a guardian as well! The Sorcerer grumbles something unintelligible before taking another sip of tea. "I shouldn't bring anything less than the best then, considering I ask a great boon of her Lake… Maybe scones. Old Mrs. O'Riley's scones. You've had her scones, do you think that would be appropriate?" He tilts his head back and forth in a ho-hum gesture before wondering, "Wanda might let me have some of her honey too…? That would be sweet enough."

His expression darkens again and his eyes flick towards the master bedroom. Wanda. The idea…entertaining the thought of not recognizing her, of forgetting everything they've encountered and battled through and enjoyed… His throat bobbles in a thick swallow. What of any others that have touched his aura? Merlin, likely enough, and even the possibility of Billy and Illyana. They would be gone. Gone like the sun behind a cloud. Gone like the last petal falling from a rose. Gone like a sigh into the wind.

"No method to undo the amnesia, if it happens…?" Strange looks to Merlin with a grave expression.


Watching the younger sorcerer with an inscrutable gaze, Merlin can't help but feel a twang of sympathy for the man. This is not something he'd wish upon anybody. One's aura, one's very essence, is such a precious thing. To have to cleanse it of undesirable influence is never a task he wishes to impart on any person, though he knows the importance of keeping one's being free of an unfriendly impact.

"Yes…Mrs. O'Riley's scones and some honey will do just fine, I'm sure. It sounds like something the Old Crone might enjoy." He murmurs softly. There's a moment of quiet before he speaks again. "Young man…I do not envy you this decision. I know, however, that whatever you decide, it shall be for the best."

He closes his eyes and winces at the question of the amnesia. "The mind, it is a tricky thing. Moreover, when combined with magic such as this, a magic that is so deeply ingrained in with ebb and flow time and memory and the very essence of one's being…" He takes a deep breath in and opens his eyes. "There is no guarantee, should amnesia befall you, that you may regain your memories." There's determination upon his face, however. "Although, you have my word that should this come to pass, I shall do all that is in my power to assist in the retrieval of your memories."


A faint laugh followed by a grimace. "Scones and honey it is then." Sipping at the tea — nay, draining half the cup in one sitting, Strange sucks at his teeth behind his lips before uttering a heavy sigh. "I know you will, Merlin…and I thank you for it." The quiet steel of the past Sorcerer Supreme is one he's been able to count on for a long time and hopefully will continue to count upon for some time longer still.

"Wanda should…we need to talk about this, before I go." It sounds like his mind is already made up on the matter. Still, she is Beloved. He's not going to disappear off on some potentially life-altering quest without explaining his actions; after all, she's incredibly canny, able to easily keep up with his squirrely mind despite the uncertain language skills at times, and always thinks of things he does not.

Setting the tea cup on its saucer held in one hand, the Sorcerer then holds up a palm with fingers lightly crooked. Within its confines, a butterfly appears, ephemeral and twinkling and alight with all the magic imbued by its original creator: Merlin. "Want me to send the butterfly to you once I'm ready to leave? Or should I save it for something more dangerous?" A tiny curl of a smile breaks the line of his goatee as a ghost of his inherent confidence.


"Of course, of course! Speak with Wanda. I wouldn't have it any other way. The risks, as they are, 'tis important that she is informed, whatever the decision." Merlin bows his head in acknowledgement. "Oh!" Drawing a rectangle in the air, a rather old looking piece of parchment forms, Old Norse runes written upon it.

Reaching out and taking it, he rolls it up and holds it out to Strange. "Gives this to the crone as well, should you go." He says without further explanation.

He chuckles, looking at the butterfly. "Oh, I would say that the butterfly is best used when you most require another light in the darkness. Keep it for now. I'll remain nearby until you're prepared."


The Sorcerer takes the offered paper in his outstretched hand. The butterfly, with the same joyful vibrancy of its creator, has fluttered off and landed on Strange's shoulder. Its wings flex and close slowly, reflecting wavelengths of color in multiple spectrum to sight and Sight alike. Considering the bit of parchment, he glances up at Merlin.

"I…will do that — and save the butterfly for another time. Don't want to pull the fire alarm with no fire present." He carefully tucks the scrap of old paper beneath the edge of the tea cup before reaching up to take, with equal care, the little spell-insect within his grip. It collapses into twinkling dust and returns to its place beneath his shirt. In a measure of extreme trust, Strange keeps it close at hand, near to heart and soul-font alike.

"I don't know how long it'll take me to ready myself, but…I'll find you." Flashing Merlin a half-hearted smile once more, perhaps an attempt to convey the self-assurance he does not feel, he finishes the tea and sets aside the cup and saucer atop a nearby writing table. The gifted paper is tucked carefully into a pocket of his dress pants. "Anything else I need to know about this endeavor?"


"Keep this in mind…" Merlin intones somberly. "Even if all is successful, this will not be a comfortable process. As well, you will be in a location so very steeped in magic, that it may seem too much to bear. You might see visions brought on by the magic. Visions of mystical creatures and people. Visions of the past, the present, the future." There's a pause as he looks the man over. "The crone shall, if I recall correctly, attempt to keep these visions at bay, however. Though a few may slip through the cracks. As powerful as she is, these visions have a habit of sneaking through."

He clears his throat. "However, they're rather harmless. And what you gain shall, in the end, be greater than anything you may see. Or so I believe."

A little twinkle appears in his eye. "One last thing…everyone I've spoken to seems to think there's something familiar about the crone. I'd be interested on your take. I don't believe I'll get another chance to hear the opinion of the Sorcerer Supreme when it comes to her."


The twinkle is noted and returned with a twinkle in Strange's eye, albeit one more geared towards concern than mild amusement.

"I'm used to pain, if that's what you're implying. Being a conduit to the Vishanti is…singular, as you well know. If it's anything like that, well…I've worked my way through it before. Nothing new." Depressingly true.

One hand emerges from where it was jammed into his pocket to scratch at his temple and then he nods once, decisively. "Yes, thank you, again, Merlin. I'll find you." Repeating the sentiment seems sufficient and he summarily strides into the master bedroom without further ado — and the doors shut quietly. An odd action on his part, not quite retreat, but certainly a sign that he's shaken by the whole affair. Merlin might be owed an apology for the abrupt disappearance, but the Sorcerer Supreme needs to think — and hard — about the possibilities and how he's going to break the news to Wanda.


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