1964-04-13 - Discovering the Archive
Summary: The hunt for a relic becomes more interesting when the inanimate object is actually a living, breathing human being.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
strange lindon 

A couple years ago, there was a discreet incident. A magician messing with spells out of his league tried to pull down powerful mystical knowledge and imbue it in an object, making it a relic. On the plus side, the magician succeeded, and whispers have named the relic The Archive. On the down side, lightning shot out from the sanctum, which caught fire, killed the magician, and The Archive was lost.

Now there are whispers that it has returned to New York. Imagine it, a mystical object that lets its keeper tap into cosmic knowledge beyond the realm of mortal ken. Imagine what it could do to in the wrong hands.


Now imagine the Sorcerer Supreme suddenly looking up from spooning honey into a nutritional slurry. The spoon pauses above the chalky surface, the sweet substance sloooowly dripping down in golden rivulets to pool and then sink.

"What in the seven hells…?" The silvery wards are immediately at his side, sensing his perturbation and rallying for a spat. Er…no spat, just the man squinting beyond them as he seems to…hear? Sense? — something beyond the kitchen and Sanctum proper. It's not quite like one of his alert wards shivering like a spider's web having caught a foolhardy passerby. It's not like the teeth-vibrating dissonance of the gods reaching through to speak to him. It's…novel and not.

Hmm… Perhaps a visit to the Astral Plane will grant him a better idea of what on this Earth is emitting such an odd signature.

The honey is stirred in as best it can be to the cold slurry and he chugs it as fast he can manage without risking it…coming back up, let's be honest…as he makes his way up the stairs to the second floor and then up the other shorter set to the Loft. The platform before the Window Upon the World is where he sits, adopting his meditative Lotus position, and it's only natural to rise up a good foot from the ground. With hands in mudras of focus, he closes off his eyes and…

SWISH, out into the Astral Plane. Though in daily dress-wear of button-down and black pants, he looks no less vibrant within the Plane. The Sorcerer Supreme gains an almost god-like aura of energy about him, frizzling the edges of his form and hyper-accenting the colors seen upon him, body and clothing alike. Now — off to find that odd beacon!


It's one of those things where, once one sees it, one can't unsee it. A grain of sand on a beach that is just a paler than the other grains, it catches the eye as the light glints off it.

There is a library in Queens. Maybe the relic has been stored there erroneously, but that would mean it's probably a book of some sort. Anything else would end up in a museum. In any case, in this library, there is a man, and this man sits is indeed handling books. An entire cart of them as he makes his dreary way up and down the rows, replacing the books on their shelves.

The magical aura emanates from him.


Willpower is an incredible thing. Such wonders can be accomplished with it — like how Strange unerringly narrows in upon this fascinating signature. Woe betide Wanda, she'd be warning him left and right to be mindful in the face of his natural curiosity hauling him about by the front of his shirt. SWISH — reality folds upon itself in the plane and he's there, separated by the thinnest barrier of the Astral realm from the library proper.

Drum-roll, please, the aural signature, a specific maelstrom of Mystical potential belongs to…a librarian? The good Doctor can't help the dubious smile even as he hovers there, watching the man work a title back into its place. This isn't a relic, it's a person.

"Hmm…" The pensive sound resonates about his pocket of Astral plane and the Sorcerer draws a fingertip down one line of his goatee as he considers just how to approach this. Appearing in Astral form likely isn't a good way to go about it. The poor man would probably throw a book at him and go running off. Back to the body, yes, and then a Gate — well, into a nearby alley, not into the library proper. That's a bit too much…much to his pride's chagrin.

As Strange whisks back to his body across the plane, the librarian might be left with the feeling of being watched, perhaps the cool of disturbed air swirling about him, maybe even the scent of incense suddenly from the blue.


Maybe it's a book he's got on his cart? But, alas, no. He makes his way along, shelving book after book and even when there are no books left the magic is still there. The man himself is drab, like the kind of drab people adopt when they don't want to be noticed. At the sensation of being watched, he rubs the back of his neck and murmurs, "Oh god, not again." The visions start out with weird and vaguely concerning feelings.

The library is closed, but — with no visions forthcoming — the man leaves it, bundling in his coat for a long walk home that happens to take him past that alley.


Back at his body, Strange's eyes open. The amaranthine hue lessens and lingers around his pupils even as he uncoils gracefully to stand upon the platform.

He frowns, looking off towards the library in Queens…and then shrugs, his brows popping up. "I'll be damned." Easy enough to walk back downstairs, wrap his black Belstaff about himself — and of course, the crimson Cloak, as scarf, comes along for the ride, slung loosely about his neck.

The Gate, limned in sparkling orange lightning, firefly-bright, opens upon the alley from the foyer and out steps the Sorcerer Supreme. Potentiality floods before him in palpable invisible energy that raises hairs in its wake, washing over everything in the alley and leaving the taste of ozone in one's mouth.


Another riffling of strange energy passes over Lindon, and he stops and shudders. "No," he whispers. Closing his eyes, he takes deep breaths, he focuses his mind. Just like he practiced. Just like he does every morning. He goes through his mantras. I am calm, I am still waters.

When he opens his eyes, there's someone there and he utters a surprised 'ack,' stumbling back. The he waves the stranger off and says, "Not you people again." He picks up his pace, passing the alley and walking right on down the street with a quickness.


Strange stops in place as soon as he realizes that it's the librarian who's standing there pointedly ignoring him — and then walking away towards the street. Glancing around to double-check that no one else is around, he then begins an idle long-legged stide after said librarian. As if the man could hide from him. He's a glowing beacon of Mystical energy to the Sight, which the Sorcerer is using on its lowest wattage, as not to scare the man further.

He seemed to take the Gate well enough, utilizing the usual 'mundane' option of "I must be hallucinating, it's cool, never mind, I do not accept that this abnormality exists".

"Excuse me," he calls out, stentorian voice easily carrying up the sidewalk and across the distance between them. "If I could have a word with you?"


Lindon stops, briefly, but then walks on. It's rude. He hates to be rude. It unconsciously slows his steps a notch. "If you want to take me somewhere, the answer's no. I got a knife, buddy." Lies and bravado. The way he hunkers, like prey, he's not armed.

When he gets to the corner, there are cars, and he's not so scared he'll plough into traffic rather than talk to the stranger. It's public, there are people around. It's not the greatest location for a snatch and grab, and he hates that he's had to learn stuff like that.

Turning to face the Sorcerer Supreme, the man looks him over, and he just looks tired. He could be handsome, but instead he's haggard, eyes sunken and complexion ashen. "What do you want."


Schooling his expression to professional friendliness (and dampening his natural tendency to emit a near-radioactive level of aural energy by willing it down a few notches), Strange approaches the librarian with hands in his pockets.

"Just to talk, that's all." This is the calm and nonthreatening cadence of the neurosurgeon. A thread of confident steel subconsciously dares the other man to walk away again; the Sorcerer is relying heavily on social proprieties at this point. He's not looking to scruff the relic-nee-being and walk off.

Well, not yet, anyways. Draw a knife on him and he might do it out of pique — because no one threatens him without a terse reminder of whom they threaten. Still, that seems like an idle threat from the whey-faced man standing under the street light. He doesn't look to possess the fortitude to wield one currently.


Lindon's hands are shoved in his pockets, but there's no knife drawn or waved. His tense shoulders nearly meet his ears, and he keeps his head down to look smaller. Less noticeable. He looks up and down the street, and now there's the conundrum. He was walking home, but he doesn't want this man to know where he lives or even in which direction, so the old walk and talk is out. He doesn't want to go anywhere with the man or he could get snatched.

He ends up nodding down the street that doesn't lead to his home, and he crosses it when the light changes. Strange is welcome to follow or not. "All right, talk." So he'll wanders Queens for awhile. He's got nothing waiting for him at home anyway.


Fair enough. No follow-through on the threat. Strange sidles up beside the introverted librarian and walks in pace with him. He simply exists, nothing scary, nothing foreboding — he attempts to be for a little while before he speaks again.

"My name is Doctor Strange. I approached you because you're a very singular individual. Are you aware of how singular?" The glance that Lindon receives is quietly calculating; it's clear the good Doctor is watching for tell-tale signs of lies along with initial reactions to his querying.


Lindon keeps his gaze on the ground as he walks. Ambles, really. There's no purpose to his footsteps. With a shrug, he says, "Sometimes you guys come around, and let's just say the last round ended up with my head in a burlap sack, so excuse me, Doctor Strange, if I'm not overflowing with joy to make your acquaintance."

He doesn't offer a handshake when he adds, "My name is Lindon. Lindon Mills. I know you people think I'm The Archive. I've got stuff in my head I can't get rid of." Not lying, but oh so tired. "Look, I just want to be left alone. I haven't hurt anyone."


The Archive. The Archive. Seven hells and gods below, the story is true. Forgive the curling of the corners of his lips. How serendipitous that the Archive itself walks — wait. What?

The good Doctor's brows dip to accent a thunderous expression. His irritation is carefully controlled, though the steely thread has become braided twine now.

"If you can tell me the name or names of the individuals who attempted this, I assure you justice in the matter. I am the Sorcerer Supreme. They'll heed me or tempt my patience."


Lindon's features screw up in thought. Does he trust this Doctor Strange? The Sorcerer Supreme, he calls himself? Sorcerers have been, so far, to him, a huge pain in the ass. One can postulate therefore that this man is a supreme pain in the ass. "I don't know," he says, "one of them called the other 'Dave.'" What are the chances they were using their real names anyway?

He comes to the next corner, and he waits as cars whiz by. "It happens," he says. "Not usually like that, but they say 'hey, come with me, I'll help you.' They don't want to help. They want to trigger the visions. So I'm done cooperating."


The good Doctor lets out a slow, self-soothing sigh through his nose. He walks in silence for a dozen steps or so before speaking quietly again.

"I apologize in lieu of these individuals. If I ever find who they are, I'll deal with them." Ooooh. There's a good amount of threat in those words. Should Lindon look over at Strange, he'll see the arbiter's expression, the facet of the Sorcerer Supreme that sends lesser magicians scurrying for their holes. It's not aimed at him, rather off in the near distance before them. "I would done cooperating as well."


Lindon does glance over, and even though the look isn't aimed at him, he shudders. "So you understand why I've got nothing to offer you." He sighs. "The thing is, I like Queens. I could be comfortable here. The library's nice. It's a quiet job for a quiet life. I just got all my stuff moved in."

And now he's got to leave. The damned hocus pocus brigade has found him again. "So who's going to protect me from you while you're protecting me from them?"


"Protect you from me?" And Strange laughs, a brilliantly-bright sound of honest-to-gods amusement. "You — you think I am going to be an issue? Oh, that's a good one." He sniffs once, as if it was funny enough to draw tears to his eyes, before shaking his head. "Nope." He pops that ending consonant. "You get to keep your visions and your quiet life. I'm simply going to be dropping in now and then to check upon you, as is part of my mantle. You see, the Sorcerer Supreme is Guardian and Shepherd to this reality's Fate. If you're having issues, I should be informed about it and I can give advice or…deal with it."

His smile gets edged again, only for a moment, and then it's back to the formality. "My job is to guard Fate, not steer it. Your will and decisions are your own."

At the next light, the red hand shows and he halts, seeming to consider something. "Remind me of your name again?" He holds out a scarred hand with a resigned quirk of a smile. "Shake it only if you're ready for a feedback burst. It happens every now and then, nothing to be too concerned about." If he really is the Archive, he'll likely know that Mystical types react skin-to-skin the first time they touch. Thus, shaking the hand of the Sorcerer Supreme will engender a startling multi-sensory explanation of his powers, celestial and self alike.


Lindon squints at Strange when the man laughs. Lindon doesn't like to be laughed at, even though that's not necessarily the case here. It's laughter, and laughter hasn't been kind of late. "I'm pretty sure I told you it was Lindon Mills," he says. Then he glances at the hand. Ah, it's a ploy. Get him to shake the offered hand. The fact it's scarred doesn't offput him, though he does regard it with interest before he says, "You're Doctor Stephen Strange; you were a neurosurgeon."

What the hell. Lindon has no intention of seeing this guy ever again, so sure, why not play nice? He shakes Strange's hand. If this triggers one of his visions, he'll show this clown. Probably by retching on him. Maybe that's why Lindon agrees to the handshake. Worst case scenario, he gets to ruin the man's shoes.

Sadly, for him, the visions aren't always nauseating. Sometimes they're just brief flashes. Ozone and colors of spring-sky blue explode in his sight. Citrine, gold, and static buzzing in his ears like cicadas.

His own mystical aura, such as it is, is a sense of vastness, the scent of old paper and leather binding, like rows upon rows upon rows of shelves of ancient tomes whose sigils glimmer and gleam in the darkness like stars. Whispers whip around like leaves on a breeze. Facts from a million different topics rise in a susurrus that together form a shriek before the force of the vision sends him reeling.

Lindon pulls away, hands pressed to his temples. "No, no, no."


"I was a neurosurgeon, yes," the good Doctor replies with a smooth satisfaction to frost his affirmation. Tah-dah, the Archive. If not a solid identifier, it remains uncommon knowledge that Strange has returned to New York within the non-Mystical fold. Might as well be taken as confirmation of the librarian's identity.

Hands clasp and…it swirls up around with an intoxicating familiarity. Oh, he knows that smell well enough, eldritch books bound with branded spells — the metallic ink beneath it laced with brimstone — save for it speaks to him. In that second stretched to eternity, he can picks out tantalizing bits and pieces of things he never even considered to exist, words in languages that take milliseconds too long to decipher before they're lost. A Babel's polyglot of information sings to him and —

Now Lindon has pulled away from him and Strange still gapes. He shakes his head sharply to dispel the echoes of the whispering Archive's stores. "Oh…gods below, that's…so sorry, I didn't expect it…" Okay, he kind of did, that's lying, shush. "Sit down, at least."


Lindon squeezes his eyes shut and grips his head. "No, no, no, no, not again." He knows. More than that, he Knows. The Ancient One, Kamar-Taj, Mordo, Dormammu. Okay, he does throw up after all, just not on Strange's shoes, which makes the petty motivation for naught.

He's a poor graceless thing, left shaking in the wake of Revelation and stomach upset. He might've been a handsome fellow once, at a height where he could walk with particular confidence, but that didn't turn out to be the way things went. Once he's done being sick, he says in a very small voice, "You're the Sorcerer Supreme." He groans. Thinking about it hurts. But he's not just reciting what Strange said to him, he's uttering the words as though they Mean Something.


"Yes, I'm the Sorcerer Supreme." Rueful now to boot. Being a masterful practitioner, he doesn't miss the inflection of gravity upon the title. Lindon knows, indeed. "And you're the Archive," he continues, granting the sickened librarian a modicum of respect in the name. "I apologize, Lindon. If I'd known that the feedback would be this severe, I would have refrained from offering the handshake."

Glancing around, Strange checks habitually for the presence of any supernatural entities interested in him and in Lindon, by proxy of the man's currently-woozy state. Nope, all safe.


"It was a vision," Lindon says weakly. Not Strange's fault, unless something about him inherently calls to the hidden lore. He wraps an arm around his middle and cradles his head with his other hand. "I need to sit down," he says, "or I might lose consciousness." Never all it fainting. He's not a fainter.

His training starts to return to him. He takes deeper, slower breaths. This is not a place conducive to meditation, but he goes through what motions he can to soothe his stomach. He's on stranger to it.

The last time this happened, he was nearly struck by a car when a migraine struck him temporarily blind. He hastily grips a lamppost. "Sorcerer Supreme," he murmurs like a plea.

His mind responds with some random and extremely complicated echo of a spell whose power could tear apart a continent. Mindless, he starts to mumble the words of it.


"Ah-ah, NO. STOP." The Sorcerer's voice cracks like a braided bullwhip in the silence that follows. This is the tone of voice that freezes one son in place and causes the other to stop doing whatever foolhardy manipulation of reality he's at post-haste. "Stop talking, sit down, and keep breathing."

Very subtly, a glow not too unlike starshine begins to coalesce about the hand kept out of the direct line of sight from Lindon. It's a simple spell, nothing scary — just a lullaby in lyrical form. Just in case.

His tone remains authoritative, the same one he used as world-class neurosurgeon and it books no argument. "I recognize the breathing pattern, but it's too fast. Hold another second before you exhale. It oxygenates without making one too dizzy."


Lindon chokes when he's commanded. He takes more forcibly calm breaths. Strange's words filter through the mental cacophony, and he nods mutely. Deep breaths, hold a second longer. He exhales shakily. Then another deep breath. He nods again to Strange. It's working.

Slowly, his heart rate drops. The words still rattle around in him, spells and mystical secrets pinging on raw, exposed neurons. "I'm going to be very unwell," he says quietly. The earlier attitude is gone, leaving him just a tired man who is trying to help someone help him. "Then I'm going to lose my mind until the revelation's gone."


Oh good, no need for the spell. The frosted-lavender hues in stardust filter away into reality around them as Strange silently wills it away from fogging about his hidden fingers.

"Have you tried sleeping them off? I'm not talking about drugs or liquor — I'm talking about honest sleep. When…" Is he oversharing? Likely not, when he considers that he's speaking to the Archive. Somewhere in there, this information already exists, cataloged away by some unfortunate soul wishing to warn others that magic has its price. "When I utilize too much power at one time, I end up with gods-awful migraines. Sometimes I vomit as well." With hands in his pockets, he stands, tall and restrained for the need to keep a calm control over the proceedings. "There's a blend of tea that I use that seems to take the worst off of it all if I drink a cup before I sleep. I don't know that it would silence the vision, but…it could work." Huzzah, another uncertainty! Poor Lindon.


Lindon is grasping, though, and he'll take uncertainty over the certainty that, at this rate, he'll probably not even get home before passing out. "Fine, whatever you say" he says. He struggles to focus on Strange, to see him through the words and images, and to cling to some sense of himself so he can reply with his own voice, saying his own words. "I hate magic."

At least the sentiment isn't delivered with another bout of sickness. Those meditative breaths keep him at least somewhat focused. "Where can I get this tea?"


The Sorcerer nods sympathetically. He remembers all too well the process of learning where his limits were. After all, it permanently changed him. The bill comes due…

"I have the blend at my residence. If you feel comfortable sharing your address, I can ensure that some arrives post-haste." After all, the impossibilities are endless! And don't forget Gates. "Is your home nearby to here? I could…" Strange hesitates again, but only for a second, and finishes out calmly, "open a Gate to there so that you wouldn't have to walk. It is magic." The very thing that the librarian just professed to hate.


Either way Lindon's screwed, isn't it? Either he lets the Sorcerer Supreme to his sanctum or let the mystic know where he lives. He rattles off an address a few blocks away to a comfortable but bland apartment. Not necessarily rundown, but rather the kind of place no one thinks to think twice about for a bachelor of modest means.

Lindon does hate magic, it's true but mostly it's his knowledge of magic he hates, and the circumstances that put this nonsense in his head. "Bout time it did me a solid for once," he says. Because he hates magic, but anyone who has had a migraine will say there are few worse things than having one and being upright.

In any case, the apartment itself to be Gated to, has a clear patch to stand in the living room between the couch and coffee table. Everything else is books, surfaces for putting books on, and shelves wall to wall.


With ease, the Gate is drawn to reveal the inner hideaway that constitutes Lindon's apartment. Anyone passing by either by car or by foot has all of a few seconds to consider what they're looking at. The 'mundane' take on things prevails; "My, what a weird trick of the light! It couldn't have been two men stepping through a hole in reality. Not at all. Wonder what's for dinner."

It took a bit of shepherding on the good Doctor's part to get the librarian through the glittering, sparking portal, but once inside, he gives a thoughtful and appreciative nod at the number of books present. "I might suggest a few shelves, but you've got that covered." He tries humor to defuse the stress. Maybe it works, maybe it falls flat. Either way, he adds, "Settle in. The tea will arrive shortly."

The first Gate collapses as the other swirls into being next to it, this one revealing the innards of the Sanctum, specifically the Loft. The silvery ward spells hover on the other side, awaiting their master like a faithful canine. Strange glances back to Lindon. "It'll be another Gate preceding the package." Fair warning.


Lindon utters the smallest of laughs and then groans. "Don't turn on the lights." He sinks bonelessly to the couch and covers his face with his hands. "I can see it all, Doctor, you, the rest of them, the universe, God why did it have to be you?" The cosmos, Strange. That's what's bombarding The Archive right now. Just had to be a big wig, huh.

"They don't bother me," he says weakly. "The physics behind it is so simple once you see the equations. Also, they didn't trigger the vision. It's fine."


Looks like Lindon won't be the only one with a headache come the morning. It slinks slowly into Strange's realization that the Archive has now been reminded of everything pertaining to his official mantle — from gods to evocations to locations to dimensions to past minders of the title…all of it. All of it.

"Because…Fate is a cruel mistress at times," he murmurs. Gravitas? Oh yes. He'd know very well. Steely-blues note the side table beside the couch and this becomes the future arrival point for said satchets of tea. "Brew it by the instructions and don't deviate." Not exactly reassuring, but the Sorcerer remains serious in expression and tone alike. Stepping through the Gate, it collapses in upon itself and fizzles out, leaving the librarian to his darkened apartment.

That is, until about twenty minutes later, when a sudden cloud of firefly-sparks announces another smaller Gate. A scarred hand reaches through and sets down a small box, perhaps meant for postcards in the past. Within, four prepared satchets of tea and a folded note detailing how to prepare it. If Lindon can muster up a mug and some hot water as well as the required number of minutes to steep…it might just help him sleep a little better. Perhaps not sleep, but wake up with less of a migraine in the end.


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