1964-09-02 - Three Strikes, You're Out
Summary: Let's test the effects of Malk venom in a sparring lesson. Also lovingly known as "Strange's Dice Hate Him".
Related: Any lesson and/or sparring log.
Theme Song: None
lamont strange 


So, god only knows what the Shadow has been up to. For woven in that dark aura with its rusty streaks are bright, curling coils of wild magic. A verdant green that seems to very nearly glow, twining like vines. It seems to show on the mundane front only by a particular brightness to those flint-gray eyes. He's in loose pants and singlet, presuming this to be one of the more physical lessons, the old knife-fighter's scars on his arms pale in contrast to the faint tan of the rest of his skin.


The Sorcerer, on the other hand, sports an aura of the hue of the heights of the thin air above Everest at twilight, a crystalline clear color captured in the petals of the hyacinthe, flecked perpetually throughout by minute mica-sprites of citrine. It reflects his mood: deliberate and pensive, though the old adage about smooth waters running deep may come to mind in the end.

He wears dress pants and the sleeves of his dress shirt are rolled up to his elbows, said arms folded across his chest. Leaning against the far inner wall of the practice room, Strange finally finishes his observings and devisings and comments,

"I presume whatever diversion lingers in your aura won't distract from the lesson, hmm?" A faint rise of eyebrows accompanies the small smile. "Though I've never seen the wild magics interact with the Fae magics of the Malk before. Still game to test yourself?"


Lamont bows, formally, despite the lack of the usual decorous layers. Strange may count himself among the lucky few to know what Monty's collarbones look like. "I am," he says, just as grave. "The less ideal one's conditions, the better one's test, I'd say."


Indeed, and Cranston may count himself equally honored to see the extent of the scarring that runs up the inner lines of the Sorcerer's arms as he unfolds himself from the wall and assumes a more neutral stance. A deep nod in turn and then Strange sets teeth to his bottom lip. The whistle that follows is delightfully musical despite being nearly shrill and has an odd resonance to the ears, as if echoing from walls of ice or perhaps glass.

Not a few seconds later, as if appearing from nowhere…in slinks the old foe of the Shadow himself: Aralune, resident adolescent Malk nearing adulthood. Smoke and argent, lanky build and legs, silkiest fur and those wide jade-green eyes…all slip past Lamont after giving him a very interested and pointedly predatory stare. The draw to the Big Fuzzy is stronger with practice and she wends about the Sorcerer's knees, her shoulders nearly reaching this height.

"Cranston, if you'll attend upon us. I'll hold her and you can prick your finger upon the spinning wheel," he says, giving the Shadow an amused flash of a grin. Indeed, he collects up the Malk with envious ease and she seems far too ready to continue with the lesson at hand for the laser-like attention on Lamont.


He regards Aralune with amusement, rather than dislike. She doesn't really mean him ill, after all. Obediently, he glides over to them….but stays out of convenient leaping range until Strange secures her.


How does one teach a Malk to be handled?

Carefully. Very carefully. And with many iron coins nearby.

Aralune deigns to have one of her mitten-paws taken up by Strange and doesn't fight. Rather, she sniffs at his scarred fingers and licks at them once before turning her attention back to Lamont, now more than near enough to garner her affection if she lunges. Still…she behaves, even as the Sorcerer depresses a single Malk toe — and out slips the silvery talon, easily on par with that of a falcon.

"Your spindle, Cranston," murmurs Strange, glancing up from the darkly-furred paw to his face.


His face is utterly deadpan, as he extends a fingertip to prick it on the offered clawtip. "You'd better have Lindon's phone number, if you need true love's first kiss to break me out of this," he murmurs. Then he steps back, sucking the bead of blood off the whorl of his fingerpint, pausing to let the venom take effect.


"He's but a Gate away," Strange replies after a low laugh. Aralune lets out a questioning mew even as she's being walked over to the practice room door. "I promise you a double feeding and an Imp to chase." Another more pitiful meeeew. "Not this time, no." Mrowl. "I acknowledge your displeasure in my decision, but it changes nothing." Mrowr. "Git."

The Malk leaps gracefully to the carpeted floor of the hallway and even as the door shuts, one can hear the prolonged and warbling battle-cry as she takes off after the wards, slip-silvery teases that they are.

"Adolescents," Strange mutters with a little shake of his head. He walks past Lamont, giving the man an appraising look even as he rotates to continue taking a few steps back. Then they're facing one another and he's adopting a loosely martial stance. "Well?"


He can see it hit Lamont like a tide of syrup. The eyes half-lid, and there's a general languor in his posture. But no lack of alertness, and the looseness of joints might be an advantage more than they're not. The tiniest smile pulls at that deadpan, leaving that long face sphinxish. "Yes," he says, simply.


*

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d2 for: 1

*


"Good."

Simple sparring to start and Strange settles on his approach. A cross-step and he begins an easy circling, hands raised and formed into half-mudras. No telling what they may become in the end — a deliberate draw for attention from other potential points of danger from his person and powers.

"Tell me, Cranston, if I happened to have catnip in my pocket, what would you say to that?" Is that a moderately conniving smile? …maybe.


The smile brightens, broadens, just a hair. And he says, in the silkiest possible voice, "Meow." Surely he's not flirting with Strange here, now? He turns to keep Strange in sight, and moves to try and turn to be the one circling Strange, bare feet scuffing on the mat.


A fluid shift in step and now Strange has countered the intent to be circled. Circles within circles, it seems that the dance may start.

The Shadow's response earns him a scoffing chuckle. "Fair enough." Even as he pauses in motion, his stance becoming solidly defensive, the scarred hand closer to his body reaches into the nearest pocket of his dress pants for…?


Of course his gaze flickers in that direction for just a moment….but it's not purely sight he's relying on. Strange can feel it, just the faintest brush against his mental defenses. Lamont's trying to read him that way, too.


Steel-blue eyes narrow and then come to light, as quickly as striking a match. Lamont might feel the mental defenses slam down hard upon his attempt. Someone's been practicing mightily on shoring up his mind since run-ins with skilled mind-warpers.

Strange suddenly swirls the hand nearest to the Shadow through the air and brings his digits collected upright in place, as if holding something between two forefingers and thumb. Then comes the snap. Magnesium-white light flashes from the point of friction and the sound is dramatically loud in the small room. The other hand flings a swathe of powder towards the pseudo-apprentice and oh yes.

It's catnip. The fresh stuff. Potent.


*

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d2 for: 2

*


What is he, really? Strange's odd little Shadow. They come from such different paradigms and traditions of magic, and yet here they are. The scent has Lamont inhaling luxuriously, the pupils whorling out until they've nearly obscure the entirety of the pale iris. He dips gracefully, as if trying to roll on it in midair…..and in the process turns it into a far more genuine attempt at a jiu-jitsu style grapple, fingers reaching for nerve points, meridians of anatomical chi.


Bah! He should have taken the other satchet labeled "Catnip, Ninth Dimension — CAUTION" from the stores in the larder. That stuff levels the Diresmithes of said dimension as easily as a bullet between the eyes. Next time…he's making Cranston tea with it.

An immediate retreat follows the cloud of fine powder gracing the air between them and the Sorcerer attempts to step beyond reach of the Shadow even as his forearm sweeps to knock clawed fingers aside.


*

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 15

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 9

*


There is a distinct possibility that Malk venom may make him that much more deadly. His fighting style has always been rather catlike, anyhow. You've augmented his powers, great job, Strange. And catnip…..adds grace and a peculiar kind of clarity. Because Lamont's on him like white on rice, fingertips digging in, interfering with that flow of energy….and hurting like hell.


The Sorcerer does like a challenge or two from time to time. With a snarl of pain, he immediately throws an elbow towards Lamont's face.

It stings like the metaphysical dickens to have that vein of energy pinched and the bubble causes a welt in his aura to be seen in a bruise-like burst of color. To be within arm's reach of Strange is quickly becoming like stepping into a highly-charged room. One might taste metal in their mouth and the hairs on the skin might rise to an invisible touch. Aforementioned elbow is quickly followed by a sweeping of one of his lean legs, the intent to remove what balance is available to his opponent.


Whereupon Lamont just leaps *on* Strange - bringing his legs into play in an attempt to wrap them around Stephen's waist, trying the kind of grapple that'll bring them both toppling to the ground. He rolls with the elbow strike….and then turns the backlash into an attempted headbutt. He fights dirty.


*

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 14

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 12

*


A palm to the face for Lamont's attempt at cracking skulls and even as Strange is falling backwards towards the floor, he's got his elbow locked to force the man away as far as possible. The next shot is aimed at the ribcage, nearest to the base, with the small-rib and all that lovely, sensitive tissue beneath it.


*

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 12

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 17

*


He's getting owned - the catnip is not helping, not past that initial burst of energy. Not a bit. It's a hell of a sucker punch, and it lands right on target, stealing the wind right from his lungs. Lamont wheezes, now trying to roll out of the grapple and find his distance again.


A barefoot shove to the Shadow's sternum might aid him in the distance he wants. Strange is quick to then counter-roll away and gain distance of his own, panting and laughing on the edge of each exhale. Back to that solidly defensive stance, with undefined mudras.

"Gods below, I haven't felt a Chi Pinch in years. Son of a bitch," and he shakes out the arm still twinging at said point. Lamont may float like a catterfly, but he stings like a bee, seven hells.


He's crouched, precisely like a cat ready to spring, teeth bared at Strange. At least there is neither hissing nor yowling. "I'm glad it worked," he admits. "I'd rather feared I'd forgotten how." No, he clearly hasn't. And he lunges for Strange again, trying for a low tackle.


*

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 6

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 11

*


Having to deal with the near-dead arm, Strange is slower to block the attempt this time around. Right into the planes of his torso, the attack lands, and again, they go backwards, this time headed for the padded floor with an almighty thump of impact.

An 'oof!' escapes him followed by a growling grunt of effort as he attempts to mimic an earlier move by Lamont and wrap the length of his thighs about the base of the ribcage already inflamed by the earlier jab. Given a change angle, he'll try to snag a wrist and yank the arm across Lamont's body, effectively utilizing his own joints against him!


Ah, the jointlock works - now it's Lamont grappled, twisting within that grip, trying to roll with the pressure. He's neither panting nor winded, however, silent and stoic. If he doesn't break this, he's going to have to tap out. Or….perhaps, he'll cheat. He goes for the latter, reaching out through the contact for Strange's mind.


*

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 18

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 15

*


Spine to the practice mat, Strange still shows the glistening line of his teeth through mildly-parted lips. It's an amalgamation of grimace and smirk and he doesn't drop Lamont's gaze.

Another furtive slip against his mental defenses and the bulwarks recently slipping are shorn up again.

"Ah-ah," snarks the Sorcerer, cranking a little harder on the grip he has. A little squeeze of his thighs about the Shadow's ribs is the sort of move that falls under the category of absolutely testing his pseudo-apprentice; it may be strong enough to twinge the sore rib from an earlier sucker punch.


*

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 13

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 2

*


Oh, it hurts. There's a wheeze from Lamont - he's just bone and whipcord muscle, no spare flesh at all, really. Then he goes limp in the Sorcerer's grip, as if he's passed out from pain or lack of air. Docile and heavy as as sleeping child….until that last probing mental touch reaches in and latches on like talons on a mouse. «RELEASE ME,» comes the command, as inexorable as the tide.


A wince away as the full weight of his pseudo-apprentice lands upon him and Strange has a moment to glare at the far wall of the practice room. "Dammit," he grumbles, tucking his chin to observe what he can of Lamont, though he'd never admit aloud that he's a smidge nervous of what he's just caused. After all, compressing a potentially-fractured rib could —

His eyes go wide and he immediately relinquishes his grip on the Shadow's arm as well as lets his legs fall from the man's lean side. There's a moment where he's paralyzed, cold-clocked by the ease of the compulsion and reeling from it, and then Lamont can probably note the very second that the Sorcerer begins to come back to himself again by the marked blink of his glowing eyes.


*

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 18

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 4

*


Nope, denied. Lamont's up on his feet again in an instant, all but dancing a stride away. Feline grace is no joke, even if he's only temporarily such a thing. This time he speaks aloud, but the words bear that weight of cold command. "Be still," he hisses, looking down at Strange. No urge for cheekrubs, this time, for the Sorcerer. There's a terrible, chilling moment where Strange may realize he's entirely at the Shadow's mercy….and that such mercy is in short supply.


*

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 10

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 7

*


Strange blinks harder and then manages to make his way to his elbows, the line of his body raised up by the bend in arms, and to bring a bare foot up towards himself with the intent of rolling to one side, when —

Plan aborted. The gathering of folded dress shirt sleeves digs into his skin as he becomes utterly still, staring up at Lamont with the same attention a border collie might give its handler, just waiting for that next whistle. It's intense, this focus, and no doubt the Shadow can feel the wriggling fight of the Sorcerer's subconscious willpower growing stronger by the passing second.


There's a last exertion of that focussed will; Lamont's making no attempt to regain any physical hold. It's taking enough strength just to keep that mental one. And subduing Strange that way, even for a few heartbeats is exhausting. It's like someone used to breaking broncos trying his skills on an annoyed bull elephant. Hastily, with a last urgent imperative behind it, Lamont orders, "Sleep now!"


The microtic of confusion flits across Strange's patrician features. What, sleep? Not another action? He draws his brows together for all of a second, and then…

Whump. Zonked out, back onto the mat. His chest rises and falls at a marked rate, there's no crow's feet to be seen upon his face, and…dare anyone note…the faintest rattling of a snore from his open mouth. He looks incredibly stress-free. His crooked knee slooooooowly falls to one side, counter to the straightness of his other leg, and there he lies, dead to the world…for now.


A step back, and Lamont abruptly sinks to his knees. He hasn't hurt Strange, and he knows it. But….it's taken the strength right out of him, and left him sweaty and wobble-kneed in the process. Then, abruptly, he grins, crab-scuttles sideways on hands and feet, and leans over to bestow a kiss on his mentor's forehead. Wake up, Sleeping Beauty.


As easily as flicking on a light switch, the Sorcerer wakes. He blinks a few times, staring at the ceiling, before stiffening.

"SHIT!" Graceful, his retreat? Eh, whatever works when your subconscious reminds you that your mental defenses aren't nearly as strong as you once thought. It's a tumbling, kicking roll away from Lamont and then to his feet, where he still takes a further stumbling step back. The silvery wards rush from the walls of the Sanctum and wreathe around him, on alert for the fight-or-flight moment he's having.

Strange clearly vacillates between temper and schooling himself to patience and the wards signal his decision even before he lets out a slow, hissing sigh. They hang behind him, undulating like the light upon ocean floor.

"Well done," he comments ruefully, wearing a half-hearted smirk to boot.


Monty remains kneeling demurely on the floor, having settled into a more formal posture: knees set a bit wider, feet tucked under neatly, hands on his thighs. But the look in his eyes gives him away, sly as a fox, even as he inclines his head in apparent submission. "Thank you."


No missing that coy look he receives and Strange narrows his eyes, the smirk growing sharper for a passing second. Oh, the urge to slap-down is strong here, but…he's the wise mentor. One must plan their slap-downs accordingly and he's not here to win, he's here to teach. Lamont can trip on his own over-confidence the next time they find themselves in this sparring room — because someone is going to be improving mental defenses in the usual multi-hour, obsessive manner for the next week. Or two.

"You need no practice in the arts of mental manipulation, that's for damned certain." Of course the good Doctor has equal parts acknowledgment and reproof in his tone. As he frowns, he seems to note the odd sensation on his forehead. Scarred fingers reach up and touch; he looks at his fingertips and then to Lamont, squinting further with suspicion at maximum wattage. "Cranston…?"


He bows in acknowledgement, still fluidly graceful, dipping his own brow to the mat. But when he straightens again, the smirk betrays him. No verbal answer - it's written there in his face. "Yes?"


Okay, now Lamont gets the full force of his mentor folding his arms and literally tapping his foot on the padded mat one sharp time.

"What did you do." Not even a flip of questioning in his tone. It's the same way you'd address the puppy that sits at the door covered in dirt and you're down a slipper but you don't realize it yet. "I can ask the wards," Strange adds, tilting his head and allowing that knife-curve of a smirk to return. "They are fairly accurate with their reports."


Lamont's reply is to gesture, gracefully, at the wards themselves. Let them speak for him, clearly. His eyes are bright as quartz. He knows what's coming, but it'll be worth it.


"No? No chance for self-defense?" It's a rhetorical question, in the end, for the continued hunch that the Shadow did, in fact, do something. A loft of his dark brows and Strange shrugs. "So be it." Turning his head to one side, his eyes shift to some far point of the room as the wards report — in a whisper — to his ear precisely what occurred.

He looks a bit dumbstruck, in the end, and then slides a lightly-amused look back to Lamont. "Yes…well done, Prince Charming." A faint laugh follows.


Guess who has dimples? Lamont has dimples, and they are on display now, as he folds himself up to his feet, still loose-jointed and relaxed. Then he bows again.


A final shake of his head and Strange dismisses the wards. Back into the walls they go, those silvery guardian spells, and he reaches into the other pocket of his pants.

Catnip again? No, not this time — an iron coin.

"Enjoy it, Cranston, while you can," he comments as he saunters over, his own body language back to its normal level of confidence. He holds out the old coin in the palm of his hand and dips his chin to note it as he explains, "I'll remove the influence of the Malk venom. I can't stomach sending you home to Lindon as such…even though it'd be funny as the seven hells." The admission costs him nothing and he smiles faintly. "Grasp my hand and I'll heal you of it."

Even as the Shadow might reach out, the Sorcerer contemplates him further, his gaze never straying from his face. "Why?" Ah, the question for the ages, in any line of interest. "And don't make me use the 'cat got your tongue' crack." Smirk.


Obediently, he takes Strange's hand. His own looks curiously bare without the opal ring. God only knows where he left it, but there's the pale ring imprinted on his finger like the mark of a wedding band. "Why what?" he asks, voice bland as milk, but the question is apparently genuine.


Cue the roll of those eyes alight with Mystical power even as the beginnings of the healing spell can be felt to touch upon Lamont's skin. Cool, clean somehow and with an effervescence that chases the Malk's influence from his veins, it washes up his arm and then through his body, leaving goosebumps and the scent of petrichor in its wake.

Returning from the vague, trance-like state that the spell requires means a few quick blinks and Strange frowns in mild frustration. He retracts his hand and it's back to folding those scarred digits away again.

"Why…the kiss."


His smile isn't mocking, it's fond. "Mostly for mischief's sake. And you looked so peaceful sleeping there. I should've left you there - I'm sure you needed the nap." All delivered in the sweetest possible voice.


A little jaw-drop…and then a snort.

"Left me there. Needed a nap, puh." …he's never EVER going to admit that he could have, in fact, benefitted greatly from being left there on the practice room floor to sleep for a few hours. "Right. Well." Is that Strange…mildly flustered? His air is absolutely dignified as he turns and paces away a few feet.

"Lindon's expecting you, I'm sure." So very dignified, yes, as he turns to face Lamont again.


Lamont has grace enough not to needle, standing there with that dancer's poise. "Yes, of course," he agrees, hands before him, folded respectfully. But there's that glint in his eyes.


The Gate expands upon the front gate of the mansion that Lamont calls home. Off to one side, Strange gestures to the oculus framed in sparking gold.

"You know how to properly recover from the effects of drainage. Lindon should have satchets still. If not, send word. I'll be certain to procure more." One last once-over and a final smirk. "I'm certain that I'll see you soon enough."


His smile is sphinxish, as he gives Strange a sidelong look, even as he slips through the Gate. "Of course," he says, presumably to all of the above.

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