1964-03-01 - The Soultaker and the Guardian
Summary: Two Mystical types cross paths in Central Park.
Related: NONE
Theme Song: None
zed strange 

Nothing wrong with a jaunt around Central Park. Good for restless legs, good exercise in the brisk air of early March, good to tick off various boxes as he checks upon the Mystical points of interest in the park.

The Naiads in the secretive ponds within the thickest groves of trees still barren for winter's grip are happy enough. Removing Aralune, the errant Malk kitten, seems to have kept any further interest in the adult Malks expanding out the nesting burrows in that particular patch of thickly-thorned bushes. Remembering a promise spoken weeks back, Strange takes a moment and a knee to place a bared hand against cold earth dormant and touched by lingering darkness.

"Changa," he whispers. The rush of cool magic into the earth can be seen as wisps of summer-sky blue that dissolves beneath the loam. It eats away any residual gunk leftover from the Hellmouth opened last year by a deviant Fae practitioner and even as the Sorcerer slowly opens eyes brightened for the circulation of Mystical magic, he can sense a sigh of relief.

"Sorry that took so long," he murmurs, brushing dirt from his hand before slipping the black glove back on. All in black but for the crimson scarf, Cloak masquerading as normalcy, he walks his way back to the main path through the area. Next on his list: making sure no one's wandered too near that Faerie ring.


There was something else walking through central park this evening. Someone or something that made the mystical world shiver. Zed was on the prowl- looking for those few who needed his particular lesson taught with no uncertainty. He'd found his prey, and the hunt was already complete- now it was time to feed.

That shiver. That feel, A soul partially devoured- the flash of blue light was difficult to miss from within the mushroomed bit of forested Central Park.. not so far from a particular circle.


For good reason he's earned the title of Guardian. His strides along the path slow for the frisson of reality's inherent reaction to the sudden sense of loss, incomplete as it was. Not the touch of Death, but the solid backhanded slap of kidskin gloves, followed by a contentment on a scale most certainly not of human-kin.

And over by the Faerie ring to boot. Hmm. At his neck, the crimson scarf shifts and a mental reminder to remain hidden entices it to lay flat still but for the twitching of fringes sans wind. A glance over each shoulder proves no one within immediate sight and he ducks off into the trees. Long legs make quick work of sprawled trunks and low-lying brambles and before not a minute passes, he emerging into the small clearing where-in the thinness of the Realm's veil is to be watched.

Strange pauses in the shadows of the trees, hands still stuffed deeply within his pockets, and let it be noted how those steel-blue irises have shifted towards the tangible glow of iced-violet, visual proof of the powers at his call running through his blood. To anyone with the Sight, he'd shine like a beacon, proper warning that the Sorcerer Supreme is on-site and ready to deal with whatever novelty fate has chosen to throw into his path.


"Now, you remember the next time you try to rape a woman, scumbag…" Zed says, whispering to whatever man he's perched ontop of- someone who's clearly in pain and shock. "You remember what I just did to you." The 'victim's arms are bent in unnatural directions. Broken. "You remember that you might be strong, you might be powerful- but there are more powerful things out there in the dark. Hungry things. Things like me…" Zed then stands, straightening his leather jacket as he turns slowly- "Yeah, I felt it, Tea."

Zed pulls a soft sided cigarette pack out of a pocket and lights it up an army-style zippo. A flash of fire. His eyes are black like night, swirling towards normalcy. "A hero." he says, "Powerful one, by the look of it." Its hard to tell who he's speaking to. "The name's Zed." he offers to Strange, before taking a long pull on his cigarette. "I hope this isn't going to get violent."


"I don't believe in violence unless someone else throws the first punch." Strange takes slow steps towards the scene before him. There is a grace to his movements, indicative likely to the soldier sucking on his cigarette that the black-coated gentleman has many years of martial training. "I think you've scared him enough, hmm?"

Seeing as the reason for said self-administered justice was whispered, he approaches what he perceives to be pain. The man curled in upon himself weeps wordlessly for the amount of agony he's in and it takes but a few whispered Words and the gesture of a mudra formed in a hand recently emerged to banish him to the steps of the nearest hospital via a wreathing of cat-cradle spindles of magic in ultra-violet hues.

Once that task is complete and the playing field leveled to the simply supernatural and Supreme alike, Strange looks back to the man in the leather jacket. Up and down once, Sight-brightened eyes narrowed, and he sighs, the sound fogging in the chilled air.

"Your name is Zed, then?"


"Yep. That's what I go by these days. Zed." The leather jacketed black man says. His eyes have settled and regained their white. "And yeah, I hope I've scared him enough. He should stay scared- I've met dozens like him. They only change once something scares them. Those who think that power is all the right they need." Zed watches Strange carefully, closely. Judging and studying. "Take that man. He's raped five women. He won't be doing that again. He'll never forget what happened here."

Again, Zed pauses- as if listening. "I hear that, Tea." he says with a chuckle, "So, you have me at a bit of a disadvantage, Mister?" Zed even extends a hand quietly- he doesn't seem particularly violent at the moment.


Color the Sorcerer very interested in this individual. What a juxtaposition; self-proclaimed judiciary on top of hearing voices. Not only that, but there is something pinging at Strange's Mystically-enhanced senses and it's making his marrow tingle.

"Not a disadvantage in the case of your decision. I doubt he'll be able to tell a lie and cover up what brought him to the hospital. He's for either the police or the psychiatric ward. While I don't agree to the violence…" A beat and frown to accent his point. "You'll have to explain your other actions."

But first, introductions. It's rude to ignore the extended hand. Inhaling and drawing himself up taller, the Sorcerer readies himself — "Doctor, please. Doctor Strange." — and clasps Zed's hand.

Cue the feedback.

Such conflictions. Plain human perserverance has been interwoven within glittering shadow-strands of primordial power. It tastes of beginnings, of swirling a cauldron of ink-upon-stygian darkness and begetting life that fights with its very nature from the deepest depths of subterranean caves. Alignment in disarray, slips of past lives in bodies so very inhuman that stalked sands and jungles alike — and all with a lustful taste for the pure wellspring of the human soul — one that this man lacks within his body.

With a hiss and backwash of his aura crackling in defensive energy, Strange yanks his hand away and shakes it to attempt removal of pins-and-needles. "Not alone in that body, are you." Statement, not question.


Zed's own eyes shift and slide as flesh meets flesh. "Sorcerer Supreme." he states simply, "Yeah, real serendipity, Tea." he continues as he draws his hand back and finds a tree to lean against as he pulls again at his cigarette. He just looks at Strange for a long moment- at the defensive pull away. "Yeah. Not alone. Not anymore." Zed says with a quiet smile. "Luckily, my roomie's rather fond of me." That, and the man has the kind of legendary willpower that's part and parcel of true supernatural wonders. "As for my other actions- that's something I need to do." he says, "Otherwise- I die. So- small pieces. A little bit here. A little bit there- and only from those people who've left wounds deep enough to harm the souls of others." he smiles quietly, taking another inhale from his cigarette. "But you.. Well. You're not my type. So, you don't have anything to worry about. That, and I suspect you may be a Hero." How he says 'hero' its got this extra weight to it. It means something metaphysical.


"I think you and your 'roommate' would regret attempting such an action anyways," Strange responds, his smile a bit cooler for the realization that there's a primordial powerhouse borrowing this man's body. Gods. Never impressed with anyone outside of themselves.

"A Hero, though?" He snorts while pulling a black glove back over his hand. The scarf around his neck remains completely still, perfectly behaved — not a fringe out of place. "No, a Guardian." The emphasis gives it its capitalization. "Heroics are for others, like…Captain America. I'd rather stay to the shadows. No need to overcomplicate things. They're complicated enough," he mutters, giving Zed a side-glance even as he wanders over to the small Faerie ring of mushrooms. The portal is still dormant, giving no indication of having been accessed by either side of the veils, and he nods in quiet appreciation for reality undisturbed.

His focus turns back to Zed in his leather jacket and his frown deepens a bit. Wanda would tell him he was scowling and that his face might get stuck like that in some Wanda-ish way.

"So…your roommate told on me. Who's paying rent?"


"Yeah. A Hero." Zed says, "Human beings of unique character and quality." he explains as he takes another pull on his cigarette. He follows Strange's gaze to the weak point. "Let me know if you need that opened." he offers quietly, perhaps even helpfully. "And yeah. Captain America- dude's a Hero. Not talking he goes out of his way to help people across the street. Or even that he fought the Nazis. A Hero is something else, Strange. Beowulf is remembered for a reason. King Arthur, too. Ulysses, Achilles. How many other men lived with them- and how many other are remembered… Captain America- he'll be remembered. You, by a certain class of people? You'll be remembered." Zed says quietly, tapping the side of face- near the eye. "I can see heroes. The Mother of Monsters knows who killed her children. No hatred there- they existed for a reason. To teach humanity lessons to survive as a better society."

"Rent? We both live here. I'm not upset about it, if that's what you're asking. The whole soul eating thing is a little new, I admit, but I make sure it only happens to very bad people." Another pull on his cigarette. Quiet as he looks at Strange. "And seeing as I'm not ready to die, seems I have no choice. The best option is to make sure whomever gets a little bit of their soul sipped away is someone who's caused a lot of pain and hurt to others."


"Killing is not my cup of tea." Even as he offers up a razor-thin smile, his eyes grow colder still. "Your Mother of Monsters might be confusing me with a past Sorcerer Supreme. I have imagination." Still…the man makes an interesting philosophical point all-in-all and the affront melts away in the manner of Strange continuing to observe Zed wordlessly. So — borrowed by a primordial goddess who goes by the 'Mother of Monsters'. That narrows the pantheon of gods dramatically.

Finally, he shrugs — and the crimson scarf breaks its silence. It shifts noticeably on him, perhaps in reflection of its master's spiked suspicions, drawing closer about his neck. The Sorcerer flicks a mildly-irritated look at it and pulls at the wrappings, loosening them up once again with a finger.

"I can't see you being upset, not if it keeps you alive. Lady Death is no friend of mine. Just…do me a favor." How many times has he said this to a new face entering his respective social circle? Many. "Be certain in your judgment. I'd hate to cross gods with you." There's a cocky glint in his eyes. So be it if it comes to that; he'll relish laying down some Sorcerous might. "I doubt that'll happen, but…I'll be around for a nice long time."


Zed stares quietly at Strange, smiling as he speaks- even with what just *might* be considered a warning. He doesn't seem at all bothered, and not at all intimidated. He's been at death's doorstep. He's carried the scythe- something Strange might have seen in their feedback loop. "I've had enough of killing myself, Strange." Zed says simply. "I've killed a lot of people. A lot of people… and I'm not sure very many of them really needed killing." he offers simply. "As for my other half, if you need a name- Tiamat." he explains over to Strange. "I take my time before deciding who to hunt. I've got the skills to find the people who need to learn the lesson I've got to teach. No need to worry about me, Strange. I'll do me. You do you and lets keep in touch. I got a feeling that me and Tea might be real helpful to you one day."

With that, Zed tosses his cigarette to the ground, stomps on it to put it out and begins on his way. "I got more hunting to do. See you around, Doctor."


Strange watches the man in the leather jacket toss aside the cigarette and turn to leave. Fair enough. They've done their posturing and respective ascertaining of godly-strengths.

"I won't wish you luck, Zed," he replies, loudly enough to be heard in the case of growing distance, "but if you come across anything that needs resolving beyond a simple sipping of soul…you can find me in Greenwich Village. You'll know the place. Either that or send a message across the Astral Plane. Your…Mother would know how to do that. Should I need your assistance…well, you'll know when that happens too." Summoning spells can be surprisingly jarring.

He too turns, but not to walk away — rather, to Gate back to the Sanctum. A fluid swirling of wrist draws up the oculus limned in golden lightning and reveals the foyer into which he walks. He's got an interesting story for the Witch now.


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