1964-07-01 - A Sorcerer In The Stable
Summary: The Sorcerer Supreme and the Black Knight discuss Morgan le Fay's latest attempt to reshape reality.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
strange dane-whitman 

A small wrench in his studies and a respite from the effects of the happenstance of shifted ley lines grants the Sorcerer Supreme an opportunity to take the Human Torch up on a side-comment. The zombies, for now, are quelled. Time for a social visit.

It's not impossible to track the Mystical signature of the Black Knight to the rather impressive castle found on the Gold Coast. The Gate opens not in the living room or anywhere inside the building itself, but instead towards the end of the drive, where it meets the front steps. He's in decidedly mundane clothing today, white dress shirt and black slacks, shoes shined and a crimson pocketchief folded away. It wiggles one corner impishly before being shushed by its master.

Curiosity strikes. Are those…stables? Strange looks from the garage to the stables, to the garage and back over again, before shrugging and meandering towards the scent of warm hay and horse. No doubt he's an unknown enough to warrant attention from any grooms-folk working about the area. Pausing at the arched opening, he observes each line of stalls. A few horses hang their head over, dark eyes and attentive ears flicking towards him. Now…where's the one with wings…? Checking over his shoulder, the Sorcerer then walks into the shady inner walkway of the building. This is familiar, rather homey, and he keeps his hands in his pockets even as he gauges the soundness of each creature in their stall. Not bad.

One of the grooms does indeed go over to an intercom to report the intruder, prompted by the stablemaster who walks over toward Strange. "Excuse me but this is private property." he states firmly. "Unless you have business here, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

Strange looks over with a mild eyebrow at the stablemaster approaching him. "I am expected, according to hear-say. A certain Dane Whitman wished to speak with me, either as 'Taliesin' or as the 'Sorcerer Supreme'. If he'd rather discuss certain business with me in the castle proper, I have no qualms with this."

A whuffle by the chestnut in front of him brings his attention to the horse for all of a second and he smiles a little. "You think I don't know of your predilections to nibble on intruders, don't you?" Can't take the farm-boy out of the neurosurgeon, no matter how hard life tries.

The names are relayed through the intercom and after a moment, the groom walks over to whisper to the stablemaster who nods. "M'Lord will be happy to meet with you inside the main residence." he informs Strange, with an obvious English accent. Motioning to an open door on the side of the stables, he'll escort Strange over to it. "Just follow the walk to the side door and he'll meet you there."

One last measuring look about the stables and then Strange walks alongside the stablemaster to said open door. "I appreciate it, thank you." The man's given a little nod and then summarily dismissed from his attention as the Sorcerer gets to walking along the pathway over to said side-door.

As he travels, he muses quietly to himself, "Where would one keep a winged horse anyways… Not under cover, not tethered at least. I wonder if they have avian-like tendencies." Another glance back at the section of building housing the horses and he makes a note to ask Dane in regards to this.

The covered walkway leads from the side of the stable to the side of the castle; what would usually be called a servants' entrance. And as Strange approaches it, the door opens and Dane steps out to await him, dressed in simple slacks and a white silk button down. "Taliesin." he says once Strange is close enough. "Welcome. I was hoping you'd come by."

"Mister Whitman," replies Strange as he approaches the man. "Please, Doctor Strange. We're in the proper phase of reality for it, after all. I hear you have business to discuss with me." He gestures towards the door. "Lead the way. Your stables are impressive," adds the Sorcerer, looking back to them a final time with a sense of faint wistfulness. "You keep fine horseflesh. I suspect my Consort would be impressed."

"It's Baron actually." Dane notes, leading the way into the castle. "Doctor Strange then, it is. I didn't know what your name is in this century. Which is the business I wanted to talk to you about." He smiles at the compliment but shakes his head. "The credit all belongs to Owain. I told him to pick up a few mounts to keep Aragorn company and he outdid himself. You ride then?"

"Ah, Baron Whitman then. Duly noted." The door shuts behind them, leaving Strange to walk alongside Dane as they travel deeper into the castle proper. "I was lucky enough to own a sturdy little barrel-horse when I was young. Silver, his name. I ride when the notion takes me and my time allows me as such…which unfortunately is not as of late, as you well know." The sigh escaping the man's lips is a smidge long-suffering before he gives the Baron a fleeting ghost of a professional smile. "Still, I'll have time once this mess is settled. I presume you have opinions on the matter."

These days, who doesn't?

"Technically, yes. Though I'd be perfectly happy doing away with the formality if you prefer." Dane tells him. The library is two floors of floor to ceiling bookshelves, broken only by some windows, the door, and a fireplace. A balcony circles the room where the second floor would have been. "Some brandy? Actually, I was hoping you did. I'm familiar with the situation and the players but exactly what she's planning, I don't know. As I mentioned to Ga… Johnny, I'm not a wizard and have no skill at magic. If you have some idea of exactly what is going on, I'd love to hear it."

It's always delightful to need to tilt one's chin up to take in the vastness of a library. Much approval on the good Doctor's part.

"Just a finger's worth, please." No one needs to be attempting openings in reality buzzed, much less the Sorcerer Supreme. "I don't mind the titling," he says, wandering over to one of the windows. "Doctor to Baron, of course." Dane is given a more lingering formal smile over the Sorcerer's shoulder. It falls when the subject of the enemy sorceress arises again and he makes his way back over to the Knight, hands idly hidden away in the pockets of his dress slacks.

"Morgan Le Fay met death at the hands of my Consort last she attempted a coup within this reality. The scar she opened on Central Park, dubbed a 'Hellmouth' most appropriately, was one I closed — permanently. It was a heavy-handed attempt on her part, ultimately. This secondary attempt is far more subtle…no doubt fueled by revenge as well. She knows who was responsible for her defeat the first time around." The gravity about his face is formidable. "I suspect her ultimate goal is to overlay this reality with one of her own devising, like a skin graph. Hence, the shifts we've been experiencing."

"The reports of Morgan's death are always greatly exaggerated from what I've been told." Dane says, his tone dry. "But you're correct as to her motives; no one holds a grudge like Morgan and she's been holding this one ever since Camelot. I don't know if Mordred is involved this time but the two of them would like nothing better than to rewrite history so they're the ones ruling and weren't ultimately defeated."

Hearing a name known to the annals of Arthurian legend known for traitorous actions in the name of the sorceress doesn't make Strange feel any better for reviewing the troubles at hand.

"So you're saying that you're uncertain as to whether or not Mordred — the Mordred I think you're referencing — is actively involved in this mess?"

"Correct." Dane agrees. "The original Mordred is… Well, he's not alive exactly. But dead and alive aren't exact terms for some. His spirit exists. I last encountered him during the Third Crusade." Gesturing to a seat, he says "Make yourself comfortable. Would you like something to eat or drink?"

"Wonderful." Except not really given how Strange rubs fingertips against one silvered temple. "That's entirely plausible, such a spirit living on. I expect no less given his connections to Le Fay. No food, thank you," and he shakes his head. "The brandy, yes." The lean Sorcerer settles into one of the plush reading chairs in the room and sighs slowly. "What else can you tell me your experiences with Le Fay?" His keen eyes rest upon the Baron.

Dane Whitman lifts a decanter and pours some into two glasses. Taking one over to Strange, he then sits down as well. "Nothing since the twelfth century and you know that as well as I. Or at least, Taliesin does. Any other encounters with her were by previous Black Knights."

The Sorcerer lifts his drink to his host and mutters, "To laying old nightmares to rest," before taking a solid sip of it. He sets it aside after smacking his lips and then looks to Dane again. "Would that this ancestor of mine knew more. The intermeshing of the psyches is nearly perfect in my case. The others — " and he means those involved, from the Human Torch to the Inhuman Prince to the tigress and more: " — seem to be having more trouble with their ancestor-souls suppressing their present souls into their subconsciousness. I'd almost rather sit down with myself and discuss, for lack of a better way to describe it. What the Bardd knew…knows," he corrects himself with a faint huff of a laugh, "could be useful. Hmm. Perhaps meditation in the morning."

He squints at the Baron, as if attempting to suss out more simply through sight alone. "Previous Black Knights then. You're…the latest in a line of them?"

Dane Whitman lifts his glass at the toast and takes a sip. "You're a powerful wizard. Can't you separate your spirit from your body and meet Taliesin's spirit wherever it is he's hanging out? It might be a good idea for the others too." Nodding at the question, he answers "I'm the tenth. The first, Sir Percy, was one of Arthur's knights and an agent of Merlin's. I suppose all of us were. Or are, in my case."

"Taliesin remains in the overlay of reality, not this reality proper. Traveling across realities in Astral Form poses a risk that I'm adverse to taking until I know more of Le Fay's plans. If she caught my Astral Form away from my body, it would be…catastrophic." His brows flick up even as his mouth thins. "Yes. It wouldn't bode well for us all. The tenth though? Hmm." Reaching for his glass, he takes a sip and retains his hold upon it. The brandy swirls lazily about it for the tilting back and forth. "Merlin chose well."

"Sir Percy thanks you, I'm sure." Dane says, smiling slightly. "But getting back to the current crisis, do you know anything beyond what we just did? Any hints as to what she's planning or where she's already been? Morgan does nothing if it's not grand and just tapping into some extra energy is just a first step for her, not the end result."

"As Taliesin, I spent some time dealing with what could either be a fascimile or the very Holy Grail itself. It's also not itself currently. I've never seen any representation of it as tarnished to soot-black." A short sigh from Strange. "We collected shards scattered about the land to rebuild the relic. I wish to get back to dealing with that as soon as humanly possible, but with Le Fay keeping the overlaying of realities as unpredictable as she can, there's little I can do without risking the destabilization of this reality." The brandy in the highball glass shifts about again as the Sorcerer scowls and throws up a hand. "I don't like being stymied any more than you do, believe me."

Dane Whitman stiffens at the mention of the Grail. "Stop. A black Grail? When did this happen? When and where did you see it? Which century?"

That streak of curiosity thrums strongly as the Sorcerer sees the sudden reaction from Dane. "I could make an educated guess as to the end of the twelfth century, given the clothing and current state of affairs in the land, twisted as is by Le Fay's hand currently." His eyes narrow. "I last saw it in the hands of the Green Knight after the backlash of its sudden reconfigured state knocked Sir Gareth cold. I attempted to retrieve it and it…objected. Strongly."

"Well, shit." Dane says and downs the contents of his glass. Standing, he goes to pour himself some more. "Back in the time of Camelot, a starstone fell to Earth. At least that's what Sir Percy called it when he told me the story. We'd call it a meteorite. To help protect Arthur and England, four powerful magical items were forged: a sword, a shield, a staff, and a chalice."

"And either the Holy Grail was forged from this meteorite or this current Grail, which I suspect is not the true Grail in the least. If it is, sullied as it is…" And Strange throws back the rest of his brandy as well. Nothing like a possessed relic to make his stomach twist into tight knots.

"Merlin gave Sir Percy the choice to pick one." Dane continues, turning back to Strange. "The Black Knight, unsurprisingly, chose the sword: the Ebony Blade. Merlin then destroyed the other three artifacts. Or so he thought. Somehow, Morgan and Mordred seized the staff. They reforged it into the Obsidian Dagger and used it to kill Sir Percy as only a weapon forged from the same metal as the Ebony Blade can kill the wielder. All four were black as night. The shield and chalice were supposed to have been destroyed." But then, so was the staff.

The Sorcerer listens to the rest of the tale, tapping his glass soundlessly on the cushioning of the chair's arm. His jawline rests in the palm of his other hand and forgive the rather dark contemplation in his expression.

"So…you suspect that this chalice isn't the Grail, but instead this chalice carved from the meteorite instead…? To your knowledge, does Le Fay still have this dagger?"

"I don't know if the Grail was ever real or if it was just rumors of the chalice that Merlin made. I also don't think it matters." Dane says, returning to his seat. "It would be as powerful as the sword in its own way. That it wasn't destroyed is, to say the least, worrying. And if it wasn't, there's no guarantee the shield was. As for the dagger, I don't know. After Mordred killed Percy, Arthur killed Mordred. But Arthur also died and Morgan did not. It's safest to assume she has it."

Strange sets aside the glass and scrubs at his face.

"Gods below, it never ends…" he mutters, mostly behind his hands. They slap to his thighs before he's on his feet, pacing not far and back for the frustration of it all. "It matters…or it will before the end. Those relics are powerful in the wrong hands, as mythical history tells us." A nod to Dane, acknowledgment of all he's shared thus far. "Still, the confluence of ley lines is locked off and for now, so be it." It looks like it's still a bitter pill for the Sorcerer to swallow, but he's a big boy. He can tolerate it. "I could try tracing what stolen energy has vanished from it, but they were incredibly stagnant before the sword was used. It would take me some time."

Dane Whitman sets his glass down and stands up. "Why try to trace the energy when there's something much more powerful that you can look for?" Holding out a hand, palm up, he reaches up to touch something hanging from his neck that's hidden by his shirt. "Avalon." he murmurs and is suddenly holding a sheathed sword. "They were all forged from the same metal. I know enough about magic to know that's a powerful link."

The hairs on the back of Strange's neck and arms riffle like grain in a breeze as the Ebony Sword comes to be, summoned by its handler. He eyes the relic before his gaze rises to Dane's face. Very still stands the Sorcerer now by the chair that still hold the impress of his past seat. A fingertip draws a line down one side of his goatee.

"It's called sympathetic magic, yes. You agree that Le Fay is canny, however, and she is no apprentice in the Arts. A red herring would be a beautiful way to encourage the Sorcerer Supreme and the Black Knight to waltz into a trap…much less the real thing itself, should she still hold the Dagger."

"Actually, I was thinking of the chalice." Dane corrects. "As you say, the dagger is an obvious choice but the chalice hasn't been seen in eight hundred years." Unsurprisingly, the sword radiates incredibly powerful magic as befits an artifact created by Merlin himself. As powerful as Excalibur? Who can say without them side by side. Though this one also has a curse which is almost certainly discernible to the Sorceror Supreme. "If the chalice is in play, or fragments of it, you should be able to detect them. Even if we don't go chasing after them, knowing they exist is something."

Strange nods. "I assure you, the chalice exists. I'd rather hunt down that relic over all else if there's going to be any cross-reality searching done at all. Not only am I absolutely certain it exists, given as to how it objected to my touch, but it last remained in the hands of someone I know and — " The obvious choice of words never comes. The man closes his eyes for a second. Upon opening them, a faint ring of frosted-violet colors the central ring of his irises. "Someone I know well," he finishes with a faint wry smile. "I doubt he had any inclinations to ally with Le Fay. He disliked her as much as I do, since he calls this reality his home."

He then regards the sword. "It might not behave if its cutting edge draws my blood, Dane." A warning there, for he can indeed hazard a guess at what aura lingers about the sword. "If I touch it, is it going to object?" The humor in the tone is so very dry, more unamused than anything else.

Dane Whitman grasps the sheath and then holding the hilt, pulls the sword out halfway to bare the blade. "No. Just don't grab it. Touch it lightly up by the cross guard." Though he's obviously curious as to who this person is, he's not asking. Not yet at least.

The weapon itself is a piece of art, truly, its edge folded and tempered to a keeness that defies modern blacksmithing's abilities. Even looking upon it with irises brightened by the Sight, Strange can tell that it wasn't only a deft hand who smithed it — it was an equally deft hand that wove the enchantments into it. The powerful relic's fingerprint of identity is Mystically muted. Like an incandescent bulb behind cheesecloth, he can tell that there's the potential for a dazzling show when in a situation that suits its inclinations.

Reaching out with a hand gloved in a thin layer of power, rippling over his skin like light reflections on the ocean floor, he hisses and suddenly pulls back his hand. The Ebony Blade deflects his attempt to use magic upon it, even sucks some of it away in an aftereffect.

"Your relic isn't going to play nice apparently, Baron. It's treating my efforts to a nulling effect." The Sorcerer glowers, though there's a reluctant appreciation to the motion. "I hazard that it won't allow itself to act as an anchor for the sympathetic magic either."

Dane Whitman holds the blade out, waiting for Strange to do his thing. One brow raises when the sorcerer jerks his hand back. "Interesting. I was aware, of course, of its ability to neutralize magic. I didn't know it didn't restrict itself to hostile magics." The situation never came up before. Pushing the blade back into the scabbard, he hooks it onto his belt. "So much for that idea then."

"Unfortunately," the Sorcerer agrees with a shake of his head. "That's some canny workmanship on that blade too. I don't care to test it further. It'd be a waste of time and energy both." He sighs, wandering back over to sit down once again in his chair. "It may come down to waiting for Morgan to move again and reacting rather than proactively moving against her instead…and it sits no better with me, don't think otherwise." He gives some far section of shelving a hard, cold look in frustration.

Dane nods and lifts his glass again to finish what's in it. "There's a reason Merlin has the reputation he does. It's possible that if I were wielding the blade, I could get it to not absorb specific magics that I want to get through. But not in a mere day of experimenting." Nor a week or month most likely. "I agree; I see no alternative to waiting at this point either. If you come up with one, do give me a call."

Strange rises to his feet after a moment, sensing an end to this particular encounter. "Of course. Would you prefer an actual phone call or is the staff comfortable with my Gating to the front door and knocking? They took my initial arrival well." He glances back towards the stables with a little smile before to Dane once more. "I'll be certain to keep the rifting to a minimum in terms of prominence if it doesn't disturb you overly so."

"Now that I know you might be gating in, I'll warn them you might be doing so in the future." Dane answers. "It's difficult to hide a winged horse so I decided to just tell them who I am instead of coming up with some complicated lie. They're all English." As if that makes all the difference in accepting a Black Knight dating back to the time of King Arthur. And maybe it does.

"It's amazing what the human mind can accept given enough logic," and Strange snorts quietly to himself. "I appreciate your communicating that to your staff, Baron. I suppose the question now is do they respect your identity as truth or do you they humor you because you're crazy and you pay them well?" The humor is friendly, subtly tart only for the residual annoyance at being stymied by Le Fay and the machinations of a wizard not seen for many a month.

"I think the flying horse and seeing me change into my armor with a single word played a part." Dane answers, chuckling a bit. "The pay doesn't hurt either. Plus they get to play a small part in fulfilling the legacy of Arthur. That's important to many of the English."

"Good. If they think you're crazy, you never get true loyalty without a threat to go along with it and you don't strike me as the sort to threaten without reasoning behind it." The Sorcerer nods and then holds out a hand for Dane to shake. "I can appreciate the idea of making a mark on history. Until next time, Baron Whitman. I'll Gate myself out."

"Until next time, Doctor. Strange." Dane replies, clasping the hand. "Oh… what's the best way to contact you? Do you have a business card?" Stephen Strange, Sorcerer Supreme. No job too large.

Indeed, no job too large when you can borrow the might of the gods themselves within reason.

"Of course." And the man indulges in a little showmanship by reaching into his previously-empty pants pocket and pulling out the very thing Dane asks after. It's the standard card…save for the coloration. A beautiful deep-violet, the surface shimmers in the right lighting as if underlaid in silver. The font itself is scripted, delicate in gold, and says:

Dr. Stephen Strange
Medical Consulting and Esoteric Items

And a phone number beneath it all.

"That reaches the rotary dial in my Loft if you feel like indulging in the mundane manner of contact. Otherwise, send a projected thought across the Astral Dimension if you're able. Either way, you'll reach me."

Taking the card, Dane gives it a quick look and slips it into a pocket. "I can not. I have no magical talent myself, at least none I know of. So the phone it must be. A pleasure to meet you in this time, Doctor and to see you again, Taliesin."

"Likewise to you, Baron Whitman. I look forwards to seeing what you and your Blade can do to help avert Le Fay's plans."

With that and a little nod that's appropriately archaic, Strange then opens up a Gate off to one side. Beyond it, the Loft, and he steps through, leaving the Knight and the library behind. It swirls shut with a twinkle of firefly light that disappears, crackle-snap, and it's as if the Sorcerer were never here at all.

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