1964-01-24 - Strange Disturbances and Bloody Names
Summary: Bloodshed on a massive scale leads the Sorcerer Supreme to Siberia and the crossing of paths once more with the Asgardian Varg known as Skali. Lorna trips through a Gate and nearly becomes a hors d'oeurve.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
skali strange lorna 


It's been so many years since these wind swept wastes of snow and ice have tasted blood in such excess. Now they are soaked to the packed and long unfrozen soil, lichen of the faintest peppery hue suckling on the dregs of the she-wolf's feast. Into ancient places, the faint pulse of life thrums pleasantly even as teeth rend and something too far past shock gurgles instead of screams. While the hardy organism thrives under the unexpected dose of liquid iron, the man unlucky enough to protest the slaughter of his herd dies forgotten, his corpse strewn among those of the herd he lived to protect. Perhaps it is the senseless mess of viscera and life taken in such wanton waste strewn across the tundra that nudges the cosmos to take note, or the unexpected flourish of joy in such a dismal place as both god and the lowliest of beings eat as one. Regardless, the cold and untouched stretches of the far Northern Soviet Union pulse in one shuddering exhale, and Skali feasts.


Meditation, after one completely centers and grounds oneself, allows the mind to wander beyond its earthly confines. Though some gurus might preach this metaphorically, the Sorcerer Supreme tests the very fabric of Earth's reality while he hovers, Lotus-position, in the middle of the dais beneath the Window to the Worlds. To the Mundane (those non-Mystical sorts), the window is an artful design of glass and metal in a pattern appreciated thousands of times moreover by the Mystical sorts. To the man facing it and looking with predatory lassitude beyond it with eyes lit of frosted-violet, proof of the Sight, it is literally a window to the world of Earth and sometimes farther still.

Something is disturbing his focus, however, and he slowly blinks, the aim of his gaze shifting from dead-on to an acute angle, off towards the Atlantic Ocean. It's a tingle he faintly recognizes in kinship to another non-Earth being though he cannot define the singular owner;, in the same manner that a distant siren could be a fire engine or a police car, both signal discord. Across the ocean in a heartbeat, his meditative state travels, and another thousand miles again, aiming towards this oddity.

It's all subjective, what he senses, but the looming cloud is of death. Flagrant death, blood spilt in gallons and spirits roaming aimlessly in shock at their unexpected passing. Steeped within it all, the taste of wintermint, touch of frost, and the heavy guttural panting of hot breath from jaws surrounded by wet fur that never grows cold.

Back to his body in the blink of an eye and he comes out of the meditation with a sharp inhalation. No, this will not do. Uncurling long legs to the wooden platform, he snaps and the crimson Cloak whisks to his shoulders like a trained bird of prey. At his neck, the Eye, and Strange gets to summoning up a Gate not very far from the distant malingering beacon that so disturbed his daily ruminations.

It opens upon empty tundra and he's hit with the flashback of finding Illyana. This is nowhere in Russia. What on Earth? A gust of cold wind carrying the metallic stickiness of blood gusts through and he grimaces.


Lorna had been bored. Locked inside for /days/ and unwilling to test her father's patience with sneaking out yet again, she had taken to doing her school work. Or at least trying to. The problem with trying for an undergraduate degree in Science, meant she had to take all the freshman courses. Including anatomy. Luckily, there was someone that had passed med school in the Sanctum, he had the title "Doctor" after all! So Lorna figured to pester him, text book in hand she darted after him..

And promptly fell into the gate he'd open, face first into the snow, tripping with an 'oof' and a shocked noise at the suddenly cold environment she'd found herself in. Text book and all home work forgotten.

"Wh-what?" She spluttered, pushing herself up with a stunned expression as she gaped at the sight around her.


This is where nothingness goes to die. The air is cold enough to freeze the lungs. Frostbite takes effect in less than a minute. The frigid temperatures aren't cold; they are like acid splashed on the skin, sending fissures of agony through every last pore. For a moment, it's all the body can focus on. Then when the sudden realization of necessity for survival ebbs, the rest of the scene can be taken in.

Fits and bursts. That's the only fashion to absorb such carnage. The human corpse had been one of several tribesmen attempting to collect for a sort and harvest, and now the entire crop they depended upon for sustenance was stretched across the past quarter of a mile. The abattoir composed of countless antlered heads, struck down before they had even a chance to realize death was upon them, a massive black shape in the center of the spiral like ringmaster in macabre circus.

It wasn't a wolf, not properly, the paws far too large, the fur much too long, rippling like a mane around over long muzzle and ears that tipped inwards akin to demonic horns. If she heard the portal open behind her, it was not evident, her back muscles flexing with every fresh pull off the carcass as the sound of shredding skin and cracking bone could be heard when the wind paused to take a breath. This wasn't a feast, it was surplus that would freeze and never decay, the flesh denied even to the soil as it waited forever to be attended to by the wolf god who birthed it.


The man himself is in mid-step through the tear in reality, deeply concerned with what lies before him, and thus the only indicator of Lorna's arrival, before her sprawling impact on the snow, is the brushing passing of her briskly-walking body.

He looks from the teenager to the Gate — to the teenager to the Gate — and finally to the teenager again with growing exasperation.

"Lorna Dane, this is not the time or place to be fooling around. Get back to the Sanctum and maybe I won't tell your father." This is Sorcerer Dad at his best, all growls and scowls and very serious concern about her presence here. After all, he was able to summon up an immediate spell of heat held close to any exposed skin. Let the sub-Arctic winds scream and howl, he's tolerated them before and will again to figure out who on this green Earth caused such wanton death. Thank all the gods that this isn't a humid or warm place. The nearest reindeer is evidence that viscera will extend in wide swathes of insta-frozen innards. Still, the wind taunts with the scent of gore and in all his years as a neurosurgeon, the only thing he's ever seen akin to this was a zookeeper who fell to the claws of a grizzly bear. Such blood, arterial spray that slipped at one point from Doctor Palmer's control, and it still holds but a candle. Thank the gods too that blood freezes dark, like ink. It's an easy way to file away what he can see at a distance.

Pointing towards the Gate, he shifts in place…and a frozen plank of blood snaps like an arm bone. Even beneath the constant low moan of the breezes, it should be easy enough to hear.

The Sorcerer Supreme is no idiot. He saw the four-legged black creature not more than a few hundred yards away — this must be the source of the impression he got while meditating. He has his suspicions as to what it is. Swallowing, he hisses to Lorna, "Get through that Gate right now!"


Lorna struggled to push herself up in the knee deep snow, breaking through layers of refrozen ice that had been filled in with subsequent layers of powdered snow. Her hands falling through to an inky like substance that had left a heated imprint on the snow as it had fallen. Her eyes rounded and she threw herself back with a startled yelp, eyes wide as she shivered, landing backwards in more frozen gore. Which proceeded to earn another shriek and flung herself up to standing, textbook forgotten.

"Ew! Ew, ew, ew, ewwww!" She wrapped her arms around herself, and her powers flexed around her at her growing horror, lifting herself up and off the snow to levitate above the frozen mess by mere inches.

Then Strange's words registered and she gaped at him. "I wasn't trying! I had a question about the t-textbook!" She bent to gather it up, "Alright, I'm going, I'm going.." She muttered as he hissed for her to get through the portal.


The wind had swallowed the Good Doctor's directive, but the whimpering noises of something small and sweet and succulent made an ear twitch. The head rose from where it had been mired in steaming gore, the wind freezing the beast's whiskers at the touch into a deep red and spiked mess of slaver and ruin. Skali's eyes settled on the two of them, and there was nothing left of the woman who had shook Dr. Strange's hand in a New York City dog park, all humanity burned away by the sun within her veins and turned her gaze to molten gold.

The Mystic would sense it before she was even in motion, the intent before the air suddenly voided into the gap in space where the wolf had been but moments before. She landed with a splintering of ice and powder in the path of the woman fleeing to portal's safe glow, steam pooling from her mouth as it opened in a wicked grin that split open her jaws. The hackles lit down her spine like living things, dancing and curling in the wind as her body tensed again, and she got ready to lunge.


If only his directive had been seconds sooner.

His face whips towards the space-blitzing black blur, the wind giving him need to squint, and even as it lands with a shockingly graceful impact on the snowy stretch between Lorna and the Gate, his scarred hands are bubbling with Mystical weaponry. Gold lightning mated to supple metal comes together as the molten surujin and Strange immediately whips it towards the nearest available surface of the blood-spiked black fur. Luck is on his side? The length wraps around the nearest hindleg to him, crackling and sticking to itself loop upon loop above the hock caked in gore.

Grimacing, he's enabled by the Cloak of Levitation to retreat backwards and into the air to boot and draws the length of Mystical weaponry tight enough to hum with the stress put on it. All of his core engages, bringing any visible muscles into high relief, and the attachment points of the Cloak tug further still. Whether or not it moves the black Direwolf is of question; however, at the very least, hopefully it can't go any further or complete its lunge.

"Lorna, GO!!!" His shout may be lost to the wind, but the next few words are imbued with all the Sorcerous force he can muster: "Wild One, Hrimhari's Get, listen! Listen to reason!" Even as he says the Wolf Prince's name, another name clicks in his memory and he puts a bit more pepper into this one, eyes literally flashing pale-violet in hue: "SKALI!!!"


Lorna froze, caught in the gaze of the predator that set off the age old battle of fight or flight. The gaze of violence aimed her way had her lifting herself up into the air, higher and away from the jaws reflexively as she shivered against the winds and snow that permeated the air at large. She swallowed hard that lump in her throat, a tremble climbing and clawing up her spine that had nothing to do with the frozen air around that had stolen her breath, her voice.

Then, Strange was moving, lasso'ing the creature, for what it was, she had little time to process or consider. Other than it was frightening and clearly meant her harm.

The shouted go, has her moving forward in a jerky manner, eyes still locked on the thing that hungered for blood, and gore and death. Her eyes stared, to scared and frightened to go for the gate while the creature blocked the direct route to the gate.

She was getting so very, very cold.


There are few things as delectable as fear to a creature like Skali. Even though the moment is miniscule between her landing and bunching muscles to pounce, the creases of her maw fill with saliva, eyes creasing with a smile that peels apart anything beautiful in this form. Then the teeth close in a snap that almost ripples the air, so powerful is the collision between her fangs, and she is left with nothing but air to shake and rend.

The noise that rolls up from her throat is a keening whine, as if by missing her prey she is injured more grievously than the vivisection another living being. So focused is she on the little bird of a human floating just out of reach, that she takes no time to determine why she missed initially, correcting her frame almost immediately and lunging again. This time when she hits the line of living energy that the doctor had formed, the whimper becomes a snarl of frustration and she turns to consider what has tethered her so. There's a moment of thought, something working in the animalistic brain, struggling to put together the pieces, and then her teeth close around the line as if to snap it in half. Instead, her haunches set, and she hauls on it, dragging the doctor along it towards her.

The eyes resettle upon him as she steps backwards again, and again, the effort making her shiver even as she fights with the bondage and drags him towards her by the cord taunt between them. The name falls on deaf ears, his mind touching an awareness as he comes closer that is swirling, bleak grief. No one, anymore. No one, but death.


Testing the tensile strength of the Mystical weaponry is a set of teeth he wants absolutely nothing to do with. My my, Asgardian Direwolf, what fine fangs you have — all the better to stop trying to eat us, PLEASE! At least it withstands the bite pressure of the creature; a broken tether likely would have been the end of the hovering teenager. Gritting his teeth, he doesn't precisely attempt the posturing of digging his heels into empty air, but the crimson Cloak kicks into reverse, fifth gear, and he can feel the tendons of his arms and shoulders stretching perilously close to their limits.

With a clarion chime of metal clicking open, the Eye of Agamotto flickers to light and suddenly, it's not purely aural-hued snapping light that subjects the giant black wolf to containment by limb. Citrine lacing rushes down and into the line and what was once taut by deign of tug-of-war becomes literally rigid. The distance between the Sorcerer and Otherworldly predator is set — and it's still too close for his comfort. Akin to a containment pole (rabies pole, animal control pole, you know the object), it allows enough ability for the creature to snap within inches of any available point on his body.

Doctor's caught a tiger by the tail? Rightly so, though this is a Direwolf by the hock.

Still he attempts to find the woman he once saw share those self-same brutally-bronzed eyes. "Skali! SKALI! STOP!!!"


The bite of the freezing temperatures was too much for the girl to maintain her levitation, even the panic that was induced could only hold out for so long. Brown hair whipping around her, her tiny, very vulnerable body shivering, she made a decision. Without a speck of metal insight that would aid her, Lorna fled for the gate. As soon as snapping jaws turned toward Strange, with the wolf-thing-creature-of-nightmares all teeth and frothing jaws clearly occupied, Lorna dropped to the snow.

She wasn't good at directions yet when it came to levitation, at least not when she was shivering and with her lips turning interesting colors and her hands and legs going numb. So the obvious choice was to flee. Stocking'ed feet clomped awkwardly on snow as she dove for the gate and the promised warmth of the Sanctum. There, through the rift in reality, she was able to pull on metal, to pull on it through that gate and haul herself toward it with a speed that she shouldn't be able to have.


Lorna has left.


The rage was almost palpable. Caught like a wild animal in a trap, the wolf reared up like some fearsome stallion and smashed her paws into the ice, digging massive furrows with her claws and biting uselessly against the lasso. With every fresh surge of power, it wavered and flickered, holding in a fashion that its captive protested with a rising fit of snarls forming into a roar. The thrashing was pathetic, feral, and fierce but necessary if the Doctor wanted to keep his limbs attached.

Logically, it should have broken over a fever pitch and drained into weak subordination. This was a god, though. A creature born and bred of chaos and apocalyptic violence. And so when the lasso did not give, her teeth turned upon her own body, and the flesh of a hock tore as she began to chew off her own foot with a whimpering desperation still punctuated by fits of snarling rage.

How far the child of an Odinson had fallen.


With the blur that is Lorna disappearing back through the Gate by some means unknown to him (but look at her go, that speed!), the Sorcerer Supreme can turn his full focus to the owner of the ivory teeth that clap shut at an alarmingly-close distance from any misplaced limb and the crimson Cloak. If the wind turned out to be attempting to waft the relic's fabric within reach of the Direwolf, he would not claim a lick of surprise later.

No Siberian Tiger ever loosed a sound that escapes those mighty jaws and he would also not be able to claim complete composure in the face of such an awesome sight, in the archaic sense of descriptor, whilst his blood runs as cold as the snow that shatters and succumbs to the creature's misplaced rage. A crank sharply to one side jerks him like a pendant atop the end of the Mystical containment pull and his shoulder will definitely be feeling that tomorrow without a healing spell. It's when she begins to gnaw her own damn limb off that the Doctor really flashes the whites of his eyes.

"SKALI, NO! STOP! LISTEN! LISTEN TO ME! STOP!!!" His words caught in the Siberian breeze really do seem all for naught as fresh blood sparkling to his Sight, twinkling with the starfire of the Asgardian magics, spills. "SKALI BLACKPELT!!! SKALI WOLF-DAUGHTER!!!" He's running out of attempted Names and no matter how he and the Cloak yank, Strange can't convince her to stop chewing on herself. "SKALI LOKI-GET, HALT!!!"


A wolf of earth doesn't cry like this. A keening noise that forms in the base of the gut, raising the hairs on the back of the neck, bringing a strong man to his knees so deep was the anguish of a creature this desperate. A sinew snapped under her surgical care to self-amputate, and as the blood froze upon contact with the snow, and her weight sagged backwards as she went to three legs while Strange screamed into the wind.

And then she stilled, a tongue drawing across her lips, gold eyes rising to quietly consider the man who stood before her as if seeing him for the first time. The mutilated limb dangled worthlessly as she balanced in the screaming winds and a flash of teeth framed in the low growl that rumbled hoarsely up from her throat. Subdued, finally, but still disagreeable by definition.


Something got through to her. Even as he keeps a white-knuckled grip on the other end of the length of citrine-golden fused lightning, he eyes the Asgardian Direwolf warily. A predator pausing doesn't mean a damn thing, even if they've effectively hobbled themselves through self-mutilation, because a three-legged creature of supernatural blood still has all three legs to propel a mouth full of bone-severing teeth at him.

"That's it, whatever I said…" His voice, roughened with yelling, is aided by a clearing of his throat and Strange makes a quick surgical decision as to the state of that back limb before looking the inky-furred wolf dead in the eyes again. "Skali Loki-Get — Skali, blood of Loki Odinson, come back to yourself." That sounds so much more formal that the prior Naming. Much better for addressing an Asgardian. Neither Realm should ever doubt the bone-deep pride that dwells in both beings at momentary odds with each other in a gore-spattered Siberian ruin-scape. Should the Direwolf remain in a presently agreeable state of Not Lunging For His Throat, the Sorcerer will release the straining angle of his elbows to allow less torque on the wounded limb. Otherwise, it remains guardedly rigid.


The noise twisted in her throat, forming into words as the jawline shifted to allot speech, tongue broadening before his eyes as it carved out something human from such a monstrous appearance.


There was a hissing aspect to the question, as if it were being whispered instead of snarled with her own blood still freezing on her jaws. And in that moment, the golden eyes creased with a pain that had nothing to do with the injured leg, even as they closed and she turned her head to one side with a flick of her tail, pinning her ears back.


Pain is universal to the Sorcerer, having traveled to many a dimension and seen its expression. The extinguishing of defiant fire is proof enough for him, even before the word escapes those cavernous jaws. Human speech seems something that the giant Direwolf should be incapable of and he has to remind himself that somewhere within that skull and beneath that thick black pelt is a young Asgardian. This pain appears to be akin to grief, though perhaps there's a thin coating of guilt for how she can't keep his gaze. Could it also be some ritualized motion borne of animal instinct, the averting of eyes? He has no concept to explain this save for it seems a good idea to slacken the angle of his arms more to allow a less contorted angle to the damaged leg. As Doctor, he can't find a good reason to bid the weapon release; it is acting tourniquet until he can offer up a healing spell for the ravaged tendons and skin.

His response is steady, though not clinically-sterile; empathy exists beneath the steely core of his words. "Because this is not the answer. Whatever your reasoning, I don't know, Skali. If you grieve for the youngest Prince, to my knowledge, he is beyond us. I can do nothing to aid you in this. If you grieve for something else entirely, I am sorry…but it does not mean carnage." His eyes narrow at the long-nosed profile of the Direwolf. "If you have sated your grief, allow me to at least fix your leg. You may be lamed without assistance."


A hiss of powder echoes her weight settling back on her haunches when the slack is given in the line, the wind hitting her unmoving frame and blurring out the expanse of corpses she had wrought. From the corners of her eyes she watched him, a light pant from her struggles marking the tax they had taken on her. Slowly the forelegs dipped, frame folding into an elegant sprawl that only a god could manage. With ears still pinned against her skull and muzzle wrinkling in a snarl she spoke,

"I don't grieve. I don't feel anything, anymore."

The tail lashed once more, sending a spray of snow and blood fleck particulate across her haunches as she turned to regard him completely now. The sun was easing out of her eyes, leaving pin pricked pupils rimed by frost.

"It never used to bother me like it does now. Why?"

Once again, the question was posed as a drawn out whine that twisted in another snap of teeth at some unseen hurt she chased.


That she reclines in the snow is enough for him to send a whisper of will to the diadem at his throat. The flickering green power blinks out from its interlacing swirl through the golden chain and it goes slack, hanging in a loose bow between Direwolf and Sorcerer. A show of trust in the face of lack of aggression, that's what this is. Still, his general distrust is made palpable by the fact that he remains above the ink-glazed Siberian turf, hovering with the aid of the crimson Cloak. His spell against the cold remains strong; it was bolstered by the presence of the Eye's power.

"Far be it from me to assign you feelings, but that sounds like grief to me," Strange opines in a volume just above the ambient moan of the wind. "Denial, anger…bargaining." If he looks momentarily older with the memories that flash before his own bright-violet eyes, it's not just a trick of the light. "I don't know why it would bother you. I'm not a psychologist…but I am a doctor. Let me heal your leg before it sets badly."

Gosh, he's stubborn on this whole fixing business.


Skali growls softly in the span between the howling wind and when the earth took another breath,

"I forget it when I'm killing. Only when I'm killing though."

The great head lowered to her forepaws, ears flicking forward at the insistence before letting out a huff that was as close to agreement as he would get. Silence held in the great beast, though as he drew close, he would note her hide had soaked with blood, frozen and refrozen, a mess of gore collected over weeks instead of hours that she made no effort to cleanse. Her weight shifted to allow him to focus on the injured leg, gaze distracted to the distant connection of earth and sky wistfully. Strange was left to his work, as best it could be approximated, though the damage was minimal and already beginning to heal - albeit improperly.


When the Direwolf doesn't do much more than defend her actions aloud and speak in pufts of foggy breath that rush away, he descends to the rent turf. The Mystical surujin flickers and then disappears, melting away and ambiently back to his stores of power, and most carefully, the good Doctor approaches. Every nerve sings; he can see the stiffness of dried visceral fluids on her dark coat and even as he kneels within reach with scarred hands held in mudras, he has only eyes for the head that lies quiescent on those great paws.

"Attempt to harm me, Skali, and you will regret it." The warning is offered up with the ease of informing someone of their total in the grocery line.

After that pert statement, Strange gives the torn hock a once-over now that there's less distance and no immediate threat of teeth. Yikes. What a mess. Thank goodness for healing spells, this would be a hell of a proper surgery.

"This will be cold," he warns the giant Direwolf before whispering the single Word of healing. From a palm splayed overtop the misaligned wound drifts the mist of sky-blue magic. Untampered by the passing of the wind, it soaks into the wound. There should be no pain seeing as this is no exorcism — just a simple balm in a world of hurt.

Mindful of the presence before him, mostly by the slow rise and fall of a chest larger around than a Clydesdale horse, he murmurs in a distant tone, "Maybe you need to work through this grief, but not by killing. Who caused it?" A probing question, yes, and she has ever right not to answer it.


The mincing caution with which he approaches does not go unnoticed, and pride spreads through the chest of the great wolf, evidenced by a smoothing of her hackles and a lolling open of her mouth in a grinning pant. Though her head rises as he settles beside her, it's a polite consideration instead of threat. If the motion caused him to jump at all though, there would be evident humor in her gaze.

It is a humor quickly erased as he looks over the damage, no verbal notation of pain voiced but an obvious discomfort in her tensing of muscles through that powerful form. His promise of potential regret was mulled over with an indignant huff, as if to say 'you wish' but holding back articulation of such sentiment. Instead she was patient, her eyes human though the rest of her form remained bestial, the occasional flick of her tail the only motion she offered.

"I brought it on myself, I think. Being human, even pretending at it, is quite painful."


Should the Direwolf, in Asgardian form, ever give chase to the query of the good Doctor's state when that large head shifted around and that canine grin showed white teeth once more — he might tersely complain of her bad breath and remind her that Sorcerers in general taste rather gamey. Absolutely, there was a flinch; he's only human even with the mantle and ergo, she's allowed her moment of amusement. One doesn't hold the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme without a good amount of self-preservation. Basically everything outside of Earth proper either wants to subjugate you or eat you. True statement, bro.

"Being human can be outright painful, yep." He pops the ending syllable on his lips and goes silent for a bit longer. Then, with the sense for work completed, the spell drifting down and into the hock ceases. His own sigh gusts into the cold air as Strange blinks hard and shakes his head as if to clear his thoughts. "It's what makes being human beautiful." The luminescence of the Mystic Arts has dwindled to just about his pupils and he returns her Asgardian gaze as he sits back on his heels. "No one's perfect, people make mistakes. You learn and you live." A little smirk shows on those lips as his own brand of humor makes a dry showing. "You buck up, buttercup." The smirk fades and he gives her a flat look. "And you stop killing things. It's not solving problems, it's creating them."

The magic in her bloodline nudged at the strange wisps of ethereal presence being laid into muscle and bone, tasting the ethereal strength of the Doctor before greedily sucking it down to be put to the purposes of mending. His words were not taken so easily, the pearlescent Cheshire grin twisting with a sullen disaffection as she snorted out twin tendrils of steam like some dragon of old.

"It's what I was created to do."

It wasn't a defense so much as a tired admission, understanding her purpose in its entirety and knowing that only full exercising of it could bring joy. A tongue drew over her lips and she stood slowly, still three legged but steady enough to give her coat a shake and experimentally put the foot down. As if to herself, she growled softly,

"I'm accruing too many favors owed. Is that a human thing too?"


As the giant Direwolf rises to her feet, so does Strange and the creature is quickly granted some distance, though in respect, not in fear.

"You don't owe me a favor unless you wish to." Frankly spoken with a shrug on his part. The wind whifts by and catches the Cloak briefly before allowing it to settle once more to frame the Sorcerer. "I'd rather have sewn shut a wound than caused another. First, do no harm." Maybe the Asgardian knows of a similar saying among her own people's healers, those that work with the art of the Soul Forge.

He considers the space where the Gate once fluctuated, having collapsed not seconds after the pass-through of the young mutant Lorna. "I have the suspicion that you do precisely what you wish to do and nothing else." That wry smile returns as he glances back to Skali, arms folded "Do you really wish to kill? Or are you brave enough to attempt being human once more?"


The truth of his observation made her tail flick in a half wag, her head turning to regard him with an appraisal that mingled amusement and consideration. He had likely seen similar consideration from her grandfather. His question was weighed in quiet, even as her eyes turned once more to consider the surplus of death she had wrought upon this land. If she regretted it, there was no evidence in her expression - canine or otherwise.

"I wish to, yes. Not as much as I would like to belong, though."

It was weighed as if she were entertaining the duality of her drives for the first time, her musculature shuddering as the fur rippled and her tendons shifted with the subtle instinct to transform at the admission. The process was halted with an inhalation that stilled her nerves and she shook that massive head wonderingly,

"You're a pesky thing, aren't you?"


Absolutely, Strange has been on the receiving end of such a look, one that blends indulging mirth and careful reflection — oh look, the Sorcerer can be cannily observant at times, what a cute trick, do it again!

Fascinating, how the creature's pelt seems to shift of its own volition and it reveals the presence beneath the skin, hidden away behind those eyes that weren't anything but empty, feral, and bright-gold not too long ago. The science major within him very much wants to see this total change, if only to catalog it away among the myriad facts regarding Asgardian magics. After all: all knowledge is worth having. Her comment is enough to deepen that grin momentarily and bring a twinkle to his eyes.

"I have been told that once or twice, though the language was much more intense and generally insulting. My thanks," he adds dryly, "I intend to please." The humor wanes again and he finally decides to truly take in the scope of what lies strewn about them. The spirits of the reindeer are fleeting, ephemeral things, quick to dash away and melt back into Gaia proper, as is their want. The ghost of the single herder who couldn't escape the jaws of death — he doesn't see it just yet. Perhaps he's already absorbed into the Astral plane. If so, that's fine. Let sleeping ghosts lie.

"You want to belong." Steel-blues flick back to the Direwolf. "Define 'belong', Skali, and maybe I can offer some wisdom if you'll have it."


The wolf either was unreceptive to the passage of the spirits through the doors of death she had opened, or simply did not care. Like most Midgardian animals, the Vargs of Asgard did not dwell too much on what was done. Yet she allowed the mystic his moment of silence while her nostrils flared and she took in the deep scent of open carcasses, snow, and lifeless tundra. The massive paws flexed as she grounded herself in this form and savored everything it offered her, before turning to regard him in a liquidous motion of nigh feline grace. Prowling to the Doctor, she curved her step around him, sniffing at his scent with an indulgent grin before murmuring.

"What do you know about belonging?"


In comparison to his calm backwards steps, her own strides cover too much ground. Two steps for him for one of hers and the pacing evens out that retreat is no longer an option. The crimson Cloak seems to wrap close around his body, though it might just be the circumstance of a gust of wind, and he is the picture of composed nonchalance. The inspection by that great wet nose sounds more like a grizzly than a simple canine and Strange can't help but glance over his shoulder as well as hold those eyes. Ignore the teeth, ignore the teeth… Maybe this is how Alice felt with the Cheshire Cat.

"Belonging? In general or human society? I know enough, I suppose, though I have a head-start, I admit it." The inside of his cheek receives a general mauling while those arms fold a bit tighter still. "You want to be a human or…? Never mind." A huff. "I'll assume that. Get an identity, get a job, get a house, and…exist. Make friends, find a hobby, give back somehow."

Though, she might imply something else, so he addresses this as well with a milder frown. "If you mean to mock what I mean to society as a whole as Sorcerer Supreme, that's another matter entirely. I exist to keep Earth's Fate on track. That and swat demons. Nothing like a good banishing, very reaffirming."


From this vantage point, he can see every slide of her musculature as she considers him, the rolling of her shoulder blades as she finishes her complete curvature, the thick cords of sinew that stretched down from them through her neck, bunching around those jaws, everything in this form crafted to kill things with minimal effort. The massive tail completes the semi-circle she has pinned him in with, bunching against his back and pressing him forward just a bit as she finally releases the inhalation and smiles in earnest. Warmth. Spice. Something floral. Something powerful that could be sensed in the roots of her teeth. It was nice.

A blood caked shoulder shoved underneath one of his hands, rubbing against his form like a cat begging for attention as she scent rolled against his cloaks and purred,

"I took a mate. I had an apartment. I dressed in skirts and heels and signed papers and used your typewriters. I fought in the wars. I killed underneath the flags of humans. I have been citizen and immigrant, lover and friend, a hero and a villain. I have been worshipped and feared, forgotten and resurrected in many forms. I am the thing of nightmares and yet nothing. All of this Doctor. And yet-"

A pause before she continued, "-Never a wife, never a mother, never a daughter. The apartment burns down, the friends become distant, their efforts to comfort so hollow, the boss dies when the Ice Giants break through, the mate finds another or perhaps grows bored for I am but a wolf. And what use has the world for a wolf whose name is Treachery? I do not know. You are going to tell me though, for I can smell your arrogance. It reminds me of my grandsire."


The thought pattern within his mind goes a bit like this:

Note to self: when an Asgardian Direwolf decides to abruptly shove against you, it is a LOT of weight, so keep your feet like you did and basically try not to move quickly. And wow, that tail is strong, how muscle is in that thing anyways?

Her fur is coarse, flaking with frozen gore, beneath his scarred hand and she can probably sense his hesitance to continue the touch, even if it might be encouraged. The crimson Cloak doesn't lean away; perhaps it knows something he doesn't. One doesn't pat-pat a giant wolf, so…he leaves the light weight of his hand atop a shoulderblade larger than the skeletal structure of any canid known since the Ice Age. Up close, she smells like…well, wet dog — wet dog, metallic iron that stick in the back of his throat, and something more herbal, like the loam beneath the trees.

The good Doctor listens in that empty Siberian wilderness and his shoulders slump for her. Such a long life full of dynamic opposition. No small wonder she's jaded. Deep within, his own spirit gets to wondering, with moderate discomfort, at the thought of immortality's toll on his own psyche.

"Smell my arrogance? Never heard that one before." However odd it sounds, it is still logical coming from one such as her. Rally, rally with dry humor. "Does all Asardian royalty smell like that? Do me a favor, don't tell the others I asked you that." Holy smokes, that really is a lot of muscle under that dark pelt. Tentatively, his fingertips dig in and press at the skin. Risky, he knows, but the curiosity is too great. "You've done a lot with your life, Skali, true, and had a long time to do it." That distant note is back again; clearly he's filing away information about the slabs of strength he can feel. "The world could always use someone to fight the good fight. Asgard is separated now, the Bifrost broken. You could consider yourself without a home, but that choice is your own. What if, instead, you maintained vigil against those who would begin with Earth? With Midgard?" A wry quirk to those lips breaks the line of his goatee as he glances towards that muzzled face. "An Asgardian once warned me that enemies might come here first, testing our strength, in the absence of the Royal family."


The need to collect his scent against her coat satiated, she slumped underneath his touch, letting his fingers find the places in her muscles that had been hard worn by the time spent on frozen ground and hunting wild game. In two months, everything she had built was gone. How did the humans do it? It seemed exhausting to continuously rebuild such frail arrangements of power and security. A low growl rumbled in her throat at his question, a sound potentially misconstrued as aggressive initially though there was no alteration in her posture to indicate she wished him ill.

"Midgard is mine, now."

There was something about the way her teeth clipped around 'mine', a promise in the grit of that snarl, territorial to a fault and fierce in the one constant of a few thousand years - the ground under her feet.

"My grandsire dragged our kind into the light, exposed the existence of gods walking among men, and then did what all his get do - what suits them regardless of the consequences. It suits me to kill any who would destroy this planet and its people. But not for money, or heroism, or the glory of combat so do not pander to such things."

Her golden eyes met his, fringed with the fury that had lain waste to the two hundred head now strewn over the landscape surrounding them like macabre crop circle of death.

"Nor do I play petty human games of organization or government. If there is a true threat, you may call me. If there is not, then I will only kill what will not be missed."

It was not offered as a deal, more as a statement of fact.


Strange doesn't cease the searching touches beneath her coat, intrigued by what he finds up until those eyes bled towards burnished precious metal swing towards him. He pauses respectfully to give her a considering look. Then comes the shift.

Perhaps the grin returned by him is a little wolfish himself, pride pricked and hackling in answer to her claiming.

"What your grandfather did can't be taken back. The divisions his actions caused resonate even now. I believe in cooperation over dissension, especially when it comes to dealing with interdimensional interlopers to this world, so let's agree to disagree on who precisely owns Midgard and choose to keep this place free of those who would infringe upon our freedom to do precisely what we want. Hmm?"

This deal is laced with his own gentle warning.

He adds with a subtle nod, never dropping their shared gaze, "I'm honored by your offer of assistance, Skali, and accept. How should I call upon you should I need it?"


Skali takes the warnings of such mortals in good humor, something like a smirk in her lips as the once more conceal her teeth. The pin pricked ears flick back in thought, and slowly her head tilts to one side,

"I'm fresh out of coins. Or runes. Quite frankly, I assumed you would know how to do that. What with the whole-"

A nod of that massive head towards the space in the air where space and time had been rent open to deposit him here.

"-whatever that is."


Oh good, no smart comeback. Maybe his point got made? Eh, not sure, but he's not maimed, so at least she listened. The ears that lie back along that velvety skull are big enough anyways.

"I ask out of respect. You're not some simple animal, you're a…Varg. Yes, Varg." Where had the Sorcerer stored that tidbit of information? Hopefully it's the correct terminology because it came from a book written about the Asgardians by an author most assuredly not of Asgardian origin. "I can use runes easily enough. However, you need a title. A Name." Emphasis on the word, capitalizing it with intent. "'Skali' will do, but I'd rather get you personally than someone named after you. It has happened before." There's a story there, but for a later time. "Could give you one…"

Nothing less than majestic for one so proud. He'd like to keep his limbs intact too.

"Skali…Bloodseeker. Skali…Gloamrunner." Look at him, waxing all poetic now — and maybe a good many folk believe he has no imagination. "Skali Kineseeker?" Strange leaves his hand to rest upon the keel of that shoulderblade, content with his exacting measurements of muscle mass.


Skali laughs at his hesitation over what she was, even as his touch trespasses in the ponderings to lose itself in the thick mane that enveloped her neck and lined her shoulders. Each of the titles was refused in the way only a wolf can, a snort of derision, a flick of her tail as if turning the page of a book, until the last one was offered up. And it hurt. It twisted a bit just underneath the breast bone, and made her still briefly, quiet gaze half lidding even as she regarded him in befuddlement while a low growl rippled up from her throat.

"Clever doctor."


No doubt she feels the primally-summoned tension cause him to dig fingertips into her muscle with the light touch of quickly-averted panic. Just a warning, not an attack, and his heart rate slows. The smile he offers up is part of another bluff of composure, jaunty in the face of potential mishap.

"Pesky and clever all in one day. Careful now, you're buttering it on thickly." A faint laugh and he glances briefly over his shoulder towards where the Gate was, as if ascertaining the potentiality for drawing it up there once more. When Strange eyes the giant Varg next, there's a bit of that Mystical light in his irises. "Skali Kineseeker I Name you then and shall honor your independence as such. I won't call upon you unless absolutely needed. Expect a battle if you feel my summons." As if she would do anything else, but it seems needed to be said. "In the meanwhile, do me a favor: start again. Begin anew. Shed this form and find your way back into human society. It may be boring compared to…this," and the word is said flatly while his other hand sweeps out quickly to encompass the carnage that still makes him wrinkle his nose, "but you can find company to keep and a purpose beyond chasing blood."


A deep huff of steam escapes her maw, and she butts against his hand with the wedge of a canid head, chuckling as the binding set with the flexing of her claws into the frozen snow. A flick of her tail marks that she heard his request, and she is silent for a moment before slinking away from his touch to pick her way back through the boneyard surrounding them. Only then does she smile sweetly, all teeth and trickery, and sing over one of those shoulders he had so delicately studied,

"You refused my favor. I will take your request under consideration."

Then the tail shifted high in warning, ears pinning back as the hackles rose. Lowering the same muzzle she had just shoved so gently into his hands, she drove fiercely into frozen corpse and resumed eating while the humanity bled out of her eyes under every tearing bite.


Affection? Strange guesses that the headbutt, with its contact of muted skull to knuckles, is some form of friendliness and manages to not pat-pat the giant blood-rimed and ink-furred Direwolf in return. Fingers. Gotta keep fingers. He watches her depart with a sense of mild discontent — that's a similar air of disregard he's received before from her ilk — and his gaze narrows at that vulpine smile given wolfish guise.

Back to the taste of raw meat she goes. It stings a little, his humanity being rejected in the face of such barbarous actions and stings more to acknowledge that there was indeed a favor glossed over. Duly noted: Skali Kineseeker deals in literals, not in niceties.

Raven-black brows knitted, he hmphs, the sound ghosting in the frigid Siberian air. "Under consideration. If you weren't…what you are." The mutter is lost to the moan of the wind and the one who chooses to avoid spilling blood looks over the frozen carnage with a tight mouth. Maybe…just maybe…she'll remember what he offered up and spoke of with such belief: begin and begin again.

The crackling Gate opens back into the Loft to release a waft of warm air and familiar scents. Glancing over his shoulder, the Sorcerer Supreme pauses and finally shouts over the wind, "Bleecker St, Sanctum Sanctorum. You make up your mind, you find me there…Anklebiter." A wolfish grin of his own and he's through the collapsing Gate.


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