1964-07-08 - Lessons in Self-Preservation
Summary: Lamont comes to Strange for healing and lessons. Scars are cauterized, someone gets overly-confident, and then Wanda shows with Aralune in tow.
Related: Defense is the Best Offense?
Theme Song: None
lamont strange wanda 

He's overdue for a lesson anyhow, but Lamont's come on a matter of urgency. One he's unwilling to confide over the phone…..though the oblique references make it clear it's those things from another realm he's encountered again.

He comes on a motorcycle of all things, left parked as close to the sanctum as he dares - he's in white t-shirt, jeans, and a leather jacket that bears traces of reinforcement both magical and mundane. The latter he leaves hung in the hallway, along with his armaments- where Lamont goes, at least one blade and gun go with him.

Given that the wards have been instructed to allow the Shadow to enter without taking him apart at the molecular level, he is able to enter the Sanctum unscathed. They cavort about him in the usual manner of curious greeting, all the while reporting to their master in the Loft. His brisk steps can be heard on the open hallway of the second level and then Strange visually appears as he walks down the curvature of the staircase leading to the landing of the Grand Staircase. There he pauses, beneath the stylized Eye of Agamotto in stained glass, and the sunlight fall through to colorize his white dress-shirt in various hues.

"Cranston." The greeting is curt, the furrowed brows communicating concern. "From what you told me over the phone, I feel I made a good decision in keeping Aralune occupied elsewhere." After all, those damn charm-eating mice in the expansive closet downstairs aren't going to eat themselves. The sylph-like wards whisk away from Lamont and up about the Sorcerer's shoulders. "Let's talk in a practice room. We can kill two birds with one stone."

There's the faintest hint of humor in that austere face, as he looks up at Strange from the base of the staircase like a suitor waiting for his lady. "Wise of you," he agrees, voice low. But then he's coming up, with no sign of stiffness. It didn't wound him physically, at least. There's a rather pinched look around his eyes and mouth, as if battling a headache, however.

"It was the dreamer seeking a way in, again. It knows me. Tried to kill me by using a puppet to shoot me. I have the gun with me, but I imagine the contact was brief enough that there'd be little physical sympathy," he says. He's recently showered, that's clear….and there's the faint, sweet scent of purification incense about him, as if he'd done his best to make sure his opponent will have no trace left to track him with.

The sigh hissing from the Sorcerer's lips pops at the end. Less a frown now and more of a proper scowl; he's not amused at all to hear that the interdimensional dream-stalkers are still attempting to infringe upon his reality.

He keeps his peace until they reach the practice room. The silvery wards are dismissed with a mental shooing and they melt back into the framework of the Sanctum's architecture. Strange stops centrally in the room before turning to observe Lamont again. "It's a damn shame they keep testing my patience. I'm very ready to bring in some heavy firepower, especially if they're going to target you or others within our Mystical community, much less the general public. I can tell you've attempted to scour your aura. What gave you cause to do it?"

They….it….did manage to get a hold on me briefly," he explains. His tone is matter of fact, even, but the line of his body is taut with restrained anger. Few things are worse for the one who relies so much on strength of will than to be summarily rolled and made to submit. "I threw it out before it could make me do anything. Wiccan was present for all this," he adds, using the codename as a courtesy. "So I did what purification I could. I don't have any reason to directly expect that it's left something behind…"

Lamont is subjected to a moment of intense scrutiny, the sharp flicker of emotion unable to be kept from the micro-reactions in Strange's face. Oh yes, he knows that code name well enough. He settles himself again, much like a cat curling a tail about feet to simply watch what comes of a revelation.

"Thank you for telling me of his presence. We'll speak in regards to his involvement in the matter." Ruh-roh. Strange narrows his eyes ever so slightly, as if weighing something mentally. "Would you like me to look over you with the Sight and check if your aura is clean of its presence? I can, of course, offer you further cleansing, though it may be painful — I apologize for this beforehand, that's what it comes to," he murmurs.

There's a glint in his eyes. "Yes, please, to both," he adds, drawing himself up a fraction more. Almost as if bracing himself for pain. His gaze is direct, not wavering from Strange's.

The noticeably delayed blink, nearly owlish, reveals the Sight-brightened hues of the Sorcerer's irises now. Lamont is given a thorough once-over and the fact that those dark brows are already quirked hides any new frisson of concern through his expression.

"You have…some new scarring," Strange finally decides as the correct description. Through the smokey normalcy of the Shadows's aura, laced as it is with swirls of thin garnet and the telltale blues of affection for a certain relic, he can suss out a floating collection of spiderwebbing. Not quite a perfect parallel to the touch of vampire venom in the psyche, it's still clearly the sign of a prevented invasion. "You repelled it, very good, Cranston." It's a distracted compliment, but one nonetheless. "A nod to your willpower. I suggest we sit for what cleansing I can offer." He gestures towards the space in front of him before settling down into a perfect Lotus meditation pose, dressed as he is in partial formal-wear.

There's a flick of his brows, drily amused. Lamont settles with equal ease, folding himself down facing Strange, resting his hands on his knees. It feels so odd, to be totally unarmed. "I thought as much," he allows, on a sigh. "I couldn't quite…..it's like seeing something out of the corner of your eye."

"I understand." It's not some idle comment, some friendly commiseration. The gravity within the words and the lingering stress about the corners of Strange's eyes imparts familiarity with such a state. "Alright. Center yourself first. I'll wait until you're ready — and you tell me as such — before I get to work. I expect it to sting on a psychic level. I'm uncertain as to any physical manifestations of the work."

Straightening his back, the Sorcerer himself upturns his palms upon his knees and lazily lids his eyes, still a-glow with the Sight as they are. He's organizing his metaphysical surgical tools, as it were.

He regulates his breathing, slows his heartbeat…..works on weighting his reflexes. There's no point in having reactions out of control do something stupid. His aura smoothes out into a near uniform darkness, making that alien pattern clearer. "I'm ready," he says, and his voice is low, almost dreamy.

"Very good," replies Strange in an equally detached manner. He continues to let his gaze rest upon the sternum of the shadow, right at the base of his neck. His Mystical senses are otherwise occupied and blank out the physical present. To work he goes.

A liquid stream of his aura slips away from the generally slowly-undulating gathering about his body. It's very similar to the wards themselves, celestine and dawn-blue all at once, and once it enters Lamont's aura, it stops short of the major gathering of the scarring, where the initial strike hit. There's the impression of a waffling of consideration from the imagery and then a prodding, no harder than necessary. Along the tendrils of scarring flies a wave of pale blue. To Lamont, the mental impression will be lumped in with phrases like "to feel someone walk over your grave" or "your ears are itching, therefore someone's thinking of you". Something insubstantial, but still vaguely quantifiable — maybe it's in the chill that dances along his body, gooseflesh not directly uncomfortable, more like a spring morning's brush of air not yet warmed by the sun.

Metaphysical numbness is left in its wake and the cauterization begins. The scarring itself slowly takes on a silvery under-hue as he carefully knits elements of his own Arts into it, binding tightly what he can of the mental defenses. Lamont may also feel the faint tug, like a ghost pulling at a sleeve, as Strange weaves in some of the Shadow's own aura. That natural bulwarking should hold all the better.

The marked sigh is the sign that the Sorcerer considers his work done. "Tell me how it feels," he asks quietly, his focus taking on a sharper presence instead of the earlier disconnection.

Another mark on him - that insubstantial clouding he wears already bears the signatures of other willworkers. Including the initial bulwarking of the Tulku, a sinuous geometry of darkness underlying Lamont's own. He shudders, but not in revulsion - more the nervous shiver of a horse who feels fly's feet on his hide. The cauterization makes him tense - some of it is almost pain, but he's not flinching or fighting back. Letting it pass through him. "Better," he says, finally. "It….felt like a wound that was on the verge of being infected."

"I'm not certain about infection, but there were exploitable points of weakness. I believe I've knitted them closed. Again, I apologize for any lingering soreness. I did have to utilize elements of your own aura. They may catch from time to time while they adjust to being sewn down."

Rolling his shoulders loosely, Strange extends and flexes fingers. "You should be just fine." A mild smile is given to Lamont, a far kinder version than he used to dole out as egotistical neurosurgeon to recovering patients. "I'm curious, however…"

The thoughtful silence that follows, accompanied by a glint in the Sorcerer's eyes, might be uncomfortable in simply not knowing what's swimming in the depths of that squirrely mind. Finally, he speaks again. "Do you think you could attempt to self-cauterize? Utilizing your inherent abilities? You would be attempting to reinforce what I already put down."

"Yes," he says, simply. "I've done it before, when needed. It….takes a lot of time, energy, and deep meditation. It's like….what you just did was surgery. You're a doctor. You stitched a wound. Imagine needing to stitch that wound on yourself, in the aftermath of a battle, on some part of you hard to reach. Could you do it? You could. But there's a great difference between surgery done by a professional in controlled situation versus battlefield first aid." His expression's distant, calm…but there's a thoughtfulness there. "I had to take on a cult in Calcutta, once - Thuggee remnants. I barely survived and I was essentially comatose for days after to deal with the aftermath."

Strange winces. "I can imagine. The Thuggee cult is proficient in guerrilla tactics within the Darker Arts. One could theoretically bleed out from energy usage against them. That you survived is commendable." A nod to the mulish stamina needed to do this. "If you're comfortable and the Mystical sutures hold, I can't ask any more of you in this instance."

The Sorcerer inhales and exhales once. Upon the release of the breath, the air in the practice room swirls outwards and clears, taking on a sparkling brightness. "There we go." Another noted blink and it's those normal steely-blues that rest upon Lamont, still vaguely calculating as they generally are. "Anything else, Cranston?"

"I am due for a lesson," he allows, quietly. AS if he hadn't just gotten the magical equivalent of stitches. Then he grins, briefly, fiercely. "Yes, yes, they were. One of the …more demanding campaigns I've been through…."

Strange's lips rise in a little smile. "Still for the lesson. Good man."

Uncurling from his Lotus sit could put one in mind of a large cat, all smoothness of extending limbs and the stretch is through the spine to round out his neck briefly. "I was mulling over the new powers we discovered, the…living shadow abilities, not to abuse your nom de guerre," and he smirks in a friendly manner towards Lamont even as he gets to unbuttoning his cuffs. "They thrive on energy and seem particularly interested in solar energy. I'm inclined to work on your defenses once again, sparring as the main lesson itself. A good work-out for me and a chance to test if you've been practicing." One cuff undone. "I'm not looking to find either of us on our asses when it's all said and done. Simply breaking a sweat if it comes to that." Other cuff undone. Now to the buttons at the neck and down, one at a time. "You - hold me - at bay. Sound like a plan?"

"Very well," he says, rising in one smooth motion. The weathering on his skin, the lines, they say 'middle forties'. The way he moves - a fit, well-trained twenty year old. There's something almost ophdian about it, at odds with the usual restraint of movement. "It's not so much a nom de guerre as it is an accurate descriptor," he notes, musingly. His one concession to training is to remove the belt he's wearing - no letting the buckle tear things - and set it aside, leaving him in jeans and t-shirt. "I am the Living Shadow, as you are the Sorcerer Supreme." He settles into a ready stance….and this time, those dark tendrils suddenly whorl into life around him, visible to the human eye, not merely the magical. Like the spiraling on a shell, organic regularity, rather than rigid geometry.

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d3 for: 3

Shucking his dress shirt leaves Strange in a white undershirt and his black slacks. He takes off his dress shoes as well. Nothing like bare feet to grip the wooden floor beneath him. All this is set to one side, the shirt folded nicely atop said shoes, and then he finds his place again across the room.

The Sorcerer's stance is likely familiar to Lamont, indicative of training in the Eastern martial arts, balanced and ready to counter in a heartbeat. Lean musculature flexes once and then he narrows his eyes.

"I'm curious. How well do you counter…when you can't see your opponent?" A curl of a smirk. His scarred hands move in graceful, quick gestures and —

The very light in the room, ambient and electric alike, explodes outwards from the Sorcerer Supreme, seemingly smashed flat beneath a wall of darkness. The room is now pitch-black, not a single atom of visible illumination present…save for the possibly unnerving irises in frosted-lilac, marking where Strange stands.

"Hold me at bay," comes the baritone voice and then he closes his eyes, vanishing completely into the velvety blackness. The practice room remains airy, open, no sense of closeness intended. He controls his breathing to keep it silent.

And now it might make sense as to why he took off his dress shoes. Bare feet are devilishly difficult to hear.

Darkness is his element, entirely. He's trained in blind fighting, for that's so often his MO. Unseen, Lamont grins in the darkness. And then there's that laugh, nothing at all like his speaking voice. It should be corny, theatrical….but instead, it's the soft, satisfied chuckle of every monster under the bed that's found a child foolish enough to be out in the dark house alone. Mad and feral and inhuman.

He's reaching out with all his senses, that spiral of shadow turned into a seeking web, like a spider flinging silk to ride the wind…..and he, in turn, is reaching to blur Strange's perception of him. If all the chamber is moving shadows, where's the living one within?

Strange appreciates that laugh, so confident, and the rush of adrenaline that follows in its wake. Good. This'll be a proper bout.

With eyes closed off, the other senses invariably kick in. Disturbed air could signify where Lamont stands. The odd, singular scent of the shadowy powers could be picked up now, considering how the room was cleaned before descending into the Stygian depths. In a trick once used to befuddle the Witch herself, there's a sudden flash of silver-violet light that fills the room and vanishes as quickly as it came. Those tendrils might recoil at the sudden inundation of self, tasting of the celestial starfire of Strange's aura itself.

Can the shadows suss out a wisp in a roomful of Mystical fog? He moves fluidly through it, adopting no particularly straight approach, long-stepping on soundless feet, and then drops low in a long-legged sweep to attempt to take Lamont's feet out from beneath him.

The light blinds physical eyes, but it doesn't stun him as he might. He's not depending on them now, not at the moment. And even the withdrawal of those seeking wips of shadow are a sign. It's like playing Battleship - even the misses give you something.

The movement of air, the sense of warmth and presence looming up out of the blackness - Lamont's return strike misses, but Strange's initial one doesn't land, either. OF course Lamont's reaching out, trying to get a grasp on the Sorcerer's perceptions, befuddle them further, beyond mere physical means.

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 18

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 11

The drop that accompanies the leg sweep allows for the dodge of the counter-attack. The air above Strange moves sharply, indicative of some attempt to knock him back and away. Feeling no sudden points of contact upon the strong line of his shin gives him reason to turn the inherent motion of the movement into a brief roll towards Lamont's side.

Not another sweep this time as he rises into a standing crouch, shoulder precisely facing the Shadow to present a harder target. No — the other combatant should feel the parrying Mystical swat of the tendrils reaching out to ensnare his senses. Part guard, part beat, the Sorcerer gains what distance he needs within the dark room. He holds perfectly still for a second before…toying with the gathering of the essence in the room. Odd, Van Gogh-like spirals suddenly appear, disturbing and adding more triggers of interest in various places: the ceiling, the far corner, to the opposite side of Lamont — everywhere.

There's a half-second of reorientation, as Strange beats back that attempt to locate him. And then the spirals are distracting him, and he's backing, too, trying to gain distance. Trying to use some other sense to land a hit on the Sorcerer. Then there's an attempt at projection - where is Lamont? For the echoes multiply, and the movement of air changes. As if there were multiple men in the dark room.

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d10 for: 2

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d2 for: 2

The arrival of the other two facsimiles of Lamont is enough to give Strange a reason to react rather than continue to poke at the Shadow. After all, he gained a response by doing so. The galactic spirals home in on each of the Shadow-shadows and subsume them entirely — nomnomnom, the essence of the Sorcerer's aura takes them to shreds.

"Clever." Where is the baritone coming from within the room? Ah, the joy of filling every last square inch of space with himself, aligned precisely with the atmosphere of the Sanctum. He can project as coyly as he wishes, throwing his voice every which way in the process.

Strange speaks truly. There's no way to track the clones back to the Shadow himself now that they've completely vanished. The swirls of hypercharged aura have lost some of their power too, mere flickering lightbulbs to their earlier lighthouse-like assault on the senses.

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 10

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 1

There. It's more a slip on Strange's part….but it finally works, slipping in like a knife's edge to divide perception from reality. Lamont vanishes utterly. No sense of his presence, his aura. No stirring of air with breath or heartbeat. Did he teleport out? Surely not, even that'd've left a trace, the magical equivalent of a door slammed on departure. A puzzle entirely.

Until the loop of leather and its hidden wire settles gently around Strange's throat…..and is abruptly yanked tight.

What…in the name of the Vishanti. Where he is, Strange straightens slightly, though his hands never drop from their defensive posturing.

The thin garrote suddenly about his neck is good reason to panic. No time to get fingers between it and the skin either. A gargled sound, aborted Word, escapes his lips even as the Sorcerer reaches up and back with those scarred hands to find the forearms connected to the belt. The galactic spirals dart back across the room and into their home cloud of Mystical energy.

Kzzzzt!!! A full measure of the Sorcerer Supreme's incandescent energy tasers into the Shadow.

There's an awful moment where it makes Lamont's muscles spasm….and thus he jerks all the tighter, pulling Strange against him. The Sorcerer can feel his own pulse against the wire cord buried within the belt for a few heartbeats….and then there's the slither of leather, the clink of the buckle, and the thud of a body collapsing behind him, hitting the mat bonelessly. Strange's imposed darkness may remain, but Lamont's clearly present again. Well, his body is, anyhow.

The Sorcerer falls to his knees, one hand wrapped around his throat while the other provides the third point of balance to keep him from fully succumbing to excess adrenaline.

A cough and a wince. "Seven hells, Cranston — " Cough. "Effective," he grudgingly admits…to the sound of silence. Whoops. The light flooding the room is very bright despite being completely mild to normal eyes, those not kept in pitch blackness for some time, and Strange is blinking way tears even as he turns in place to squint at Lamont. "I didn't hit you that hard, Cranston, get up," he says gruffly.

This might be indicative of what the master of the manor considers to be 'pulling punches', which could be worrying or amusing, depending on one's take on life. Lamont is breathing still…he thinks.

Well, he is breathing steadily, if shallowly. A second look has him hanging half in and out of his body, stuck between the physical and the Astral like Pooh in Rabbit's doorway. It gives him the look of a doubled reflection. Then he succeeds in peeling himself free and stands there, brushing nonexistent dust from himself…..even as his body remains crumpled on the mat.

He tries to sigh and mostly succeeds but for another cough. It seems garrote wires irritate the windpipe. Who would have known? Upon noting the Astral form of the Shadow unattached to his physical form, Strange gets to his feet slowly, still pressing gently at his throat. …can he feel a ligature mark?

Oh man. No one tell the Witch. His pride wouldn't live it down. Lamont might not live it down…literally.

"Are you aware that you've separated from your body, Cranston? You're not dead, by the way. Can you hear me?" Hey, he might as well check. Some students at Kamar-Taj freaked out when they first achieved the separation of forms.

"Yes, I'm aware," Lamont retorts, crisply. "I can see myself." It doesn't do to be snotty with one's magical teacher, but….there's snark there, barely restrained. He toes his body idly, which fails to respond - his foot just passes through, after all. He bends a little to look into his own face, and mutters, "It's not the years, but the mileage," before straightening up to regard Strange. "It's not usually this easy to knock me out of my body…."

The subtle snark earns the Shadow a flat mentorly look. "It's been some time since I've dealt with my windpipe under direct attack. You were subjected to the same amount of energy as anyone else who would have tried. I can't pull my punches." The Sorcerer folds his arms, now content with the state of his throat and his student's general well-being.

"You can return yourself to your body, I assume?" Thus, the return of the insouciance.

So….Strange's student is there. There twice, to be specific. For they're in the practice room. Lamont's body is crumpled on the mat, out like a light…..but Lamont's astral form is clearly visible standing by it, looking at Strange rather wryly. The Shadow's body's clad only in t-shirt and jeans….but there's a belt lying on the mat beside a limp hand. And Strange's throat has a distinct ligature mark around it - lateral, rather than the slanted loop of someone who's tried to hang himself. Lamont doesn't seem overly discomfited by the fact that Strange has apparently popped him out of his body like an ice cube out of a tray. "So I see," he says to the Sorcerer, drily. "And yes, I can. One moment." Then he's trying to step into his body again, more or less feetfirst. It's taking some attempts.

"There's no hurry, Cranston. Your body isn't about to walk off of its own volition. Not here, anyways," and there's a faint darkly-amused laugh from Strange followed by a little cough. He touches at his neck again carefully. Yep, most definitely an angry red line there. "If you need assistance, I can always help. Simply ask."

He folds his arms again, standing there beside Lamont's physical form. His dress shirt and dress shoes still remain folded off to one side, leaving him barefoot in black slacks and a white undershirt.

The Scarlet Witch detects anomalies in the astral as a shiver of presence, a haunting at the edges of her highly sensitive Sight. Oh, there are variations in how strongly attuned to the mystical world people are. Some need pickaxes to smash open the barriers, others get so overwhelmed they go mad. She falls to the latter spectrum, harried by disturbances that make eating three plums in a row — dinner — obnoxiously difficult. Especially when they involve something akin to a certain violence staining the air, dancing through the bleeding hue of her fruity meal.

She goes on her walkabout then, guided by instinct and knowing when light comes under a door. Swishing shadows attend upon her, resolving into her proper coat, and manifesting into a stick. Pray that someone hasn't tried to hang her partner. Please.

Cranston's astral form…..just like everything else about the magical aspects of his life, it's off. It doesn't have that soft, indistinctly lit glow. Instead it's something made out of roiling darkness, as if he were made of smoke….or were giving it off. Translucent as any shade, with movement leaving inky traces behind, and all his planes and angles exaggerated. He looks like something painted by El Greco on a bad day.

The next few attempts are like trying to play the mirror game, matching point to point with his material body….but always a fraction off. Some aspect remains unconvinced, and the body stubbornly collapsed on the mat. His concentration's enough that he doesn't sense the approach of the Witch.

Strange tilts his head as he watches the attempts fail repeatedly. His eyebrows rise up fractionally even as he mutters, "I find it curious that you're unable to return easily. Is it always this difficult?"

He's intrigued, admittedly, just enough that he too makes some vague notation as to Wanda's approach. She's a steadfast beacon in the Sanctum and in this moment, her presence is normalcy. He doesn't consider his personal state, including that ligature line, as he continues to watch Lamont's attempts.

On the other hand, the muted vision of Hecate incarnated in a particularly gilded, dark mould owes her fugue to the moody torments of Caravaggio crossed by the passionate fury of Rossetti heralding his muses. The juxtaposition is wrong, assuredly, for Rose Red does not match well with agony and the ecstasy of a saint. Darkness knows its like. Her skin is solidly her own; yet here, the vision blotting her gaze stained plum-bright.

The door tips open slightly to admit her if not already ajar. Enough for her to perceive the lesson at hand, and the spinnerets of possibility bleeding this way and that. Say this much for her, she's not throwing a bolt of force or singing 'Oh AGGY!' at the top of her lungs. Though she does have her hands on her hips. Mostly to avoid hexes.

"Yes," Cranston explains. "You see, it used to be that I did this far too easily. When I was a child and young man, I thought it was just a dream. And then when I was an addict in Shanghai, I was out of my body more than in it for weeks on end. I nearly died of it, more than once." His tone is matter of fact, but there's something like pity, if of the remotest sort, in his voice. "That's how I came to the Tulkus' attention, as a wandering soul. I saw Shambhala that way, first, after an overdose. I was caught in their wards, and one of them guided me back. I thought it was the vision of someone on the edge of death, not something real. Not until I came there in the flesh, years later, did I understand."

Then, even as Wanda's entering, he's making one more attempt. As if the memory were a spur. He stands just before his feet, and lets himself drift back and down. Not trying to line himself up carefully, but settling in…flickering out and down like the glint of a penny dropped into the dark depths of a well. There's a horrible moment where the astral body is gone and the physical doesn't seem occupied, as if he'd extinguished himself entirely. Then there's a whoop of inhaled breath, and he sits up suddenly, panting.

The Sorcerer listens, vaguely sympathetic in little ways here and there. He doesn't uncross his arms, still inclined to stay near the man's physical body in case of more severe issues.

"What a way to court Death…" He coughs lightly again. "I would think that it would be easier to return to your form with the habit of being out-of-body, but…perhaps it's the opposite. A bit like grinding down the teeth on a key over-turning a lock." He muses as he waits through the hang-time of disconnect between Astral form and home and finally — success. "There you are, Sleeping Beauty," Strange quips, smirking.

Oh, wait — he looks up from considering Lamont to find that his Mystical senses don't lie. The Witch has arrived and he turns to face her, wearing a softer version of that smirk. "Miss Maximoff." Zip on that 'Miss', always. "A simple sparring match, nothing to worry about." His eyes widen a fraction after he coughs, realizing that the reason for the action is brightly flaring across his throat. "Nothing to worry about," he reiterates, trying very hard not to want to reach up and half-cover the mark. It's a dead sign that he plainly did not avoid attack in his own domain.

Proof that the Shadow will do his killing by the mundane means, if he can. Most magic-workers need to be able to speak the Words to work, after all….and a strangling wire makes that awfully hard to do. He gets up with more deliberation. "Maybe if I'd been trained to do it, but it happened naturally, spontaneously, even before the drugs. They only magnified the effect." He bows to Wanda in greeting, dignified despite being rumpled and discomposed. "Ma'am."

"Why is he down there?" Her finger points to Lamont with all the incurious regard of a flat-spoken witch. Which is, of course, a fanciful and fantastic clarion for the presence of another resident of the house.

"Mraaaaat?" The question originates from the grey shadow stalking Little Fuzzy, the one known to provide the tastiest of treats bled off her aura. Question mark curlicue tail high, yon spectre stalks on delicate paws to wend round the ankles of her chosen favourite. And then looks very hopefully with those big, mirror-sheen eyes, on other morsel of choice damnation.

The witch pets the malk absently. Oh, she knows. She knows who has Lamont marked.

The sudden appearance of the young Malk kitten stymies Strange's immediate response. He glances over at Lamont and apology is written all over in the look.

"Cranston discovered what happens when you come too close to an opponent wielding the Arts," he offers up as explanation, giving Wanda, in turn, a twinkly smile. He departs from his student's space and walks over to his dress shirt. Slipping it on, he then begins to button it up at a brisk rate. "I accidentally separated him from his Astral form." He finishes buttoning up the shirt and…leaves the collars down despite the fact that they could hide the angry red line. Walking over to the Witch and Aralune, he reaches to tickle under the Fae cat's chin, all the better to distract her from the Shadow. Pay attention to Big Fuzzy now, come along.

There's a wry resignation on his features, when Ara makes herself known. No matter how many times she gets at him, there's just too much bad karma in place for even that sandpaper tongue to make a dent. Someone's going to end up home high as a kite. Lindon must get used to it, getting his cheekrubs. "He didn't know how easily it happens to me," he explains, sounding apologetic in his turn.

Better than tickling Wanda under the chin and distracting her while Aralune pounces Lamont's face off. For even Big Fuzzy petting her, absent Red Snapperstringtoy, does not distract yon grey menace from the friendly questionable shadow man. She's on to you, Lamont. A lazy appearance of fangs joins the lazy slink of her hind legs as she directs petting where it belongs. On her tail.

The Sorcerer did consider tickling Wanda under the chin, but he likes his fingers intact and his general person non-hexed.

Shifting to indulge the Malk, Strange then attempts to scoop up Aralune as best he can. Perhaps further corporal cuddling might disuage her from nomming on the Shadow.

"But you're fine now and no one's hurt." Says the man with the line on his throat. Wanda gets another lazy, charming smile.

Lamont offers a smile. And for all his ability to act and dissimulate, this one is not convincing. More a baring of teeth than anything else. He's trying to play nice, though, for all that the gray eyes are on that cat. At the comment about no one being hurt, he's stooping to pick up his belt, thread it back through the loops on the jeans, buckle it carefully. "Right."

The Sorcerer glances over at the sound of the metallic buckle being put back on.

"Yes. Right. Cranston, I presume you know the way out. We'll schedule another lesson in the near future." He looks minutely the part of the Evil Overlord with how he pets Aralune and she eyes Lamont like a dieting co-ed eyes a pastry display. Stepping aside while remaining next to Wanda, he silently shows the escape route in question. "Say hello to Lindon for me."

It seems the Shadow will escape the attentions of the females of the Sanctum…for now.

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