1964-09-22 - A Bashe-ful Masquerade
Summary: Because it's a nice day for a white wedding…? And picking petty social fights.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
strange wanda 

It all boils down to diplomacy. Even with the affair easily within realm of descriptions such as 'grandiose' and 'opulent', the uniting of two realms through the marriage of bloodlines is a celebration of peace. If you received an invitation, you ranked high on the list, and thus, the Sorcerer Supreme and his shadow arrive at the Waldorf Astoria. The ballroom of the hotel plays host to the masquerade and it's clear that only those of Mystical ilk have been invited at the very moment the pair cross the boundaries into the hotel itself. The tingling wash of a strong redirection ward feels not too unlike stepping from dry heat into air-conditioning and leaves goosebumps in its wake when it has no effect on either of them.


"Thank you for attending, Sorcerer Supreme," says the glamoured head of security, hidden away within a costume that seems to be made entirely of glass; one can see through him and perhaps that would give him the edge when dealing with anyone who attempts to cause trouble. The parchment bearing the invite in gilded lettering burns away in the palm of his hand, no evidence left behind.

"Of course. Peace is always worth celebrating," replies Strange, giving the Fae-seeming man a nod. After passing through the foyer, it seems the only place left to go is the ballroom proper. The strains of otherwordly music can be heard and his shoulders rise and fall in a sigh. "This should be interesting," he murmurs before continuing onwards. "They have a dragon as head of security."

He's dressed for the occasion, of course. A domino in geometrically-inclined threaded strands of golden magic, lines thin and woven in concentric circles inside the confines of the mask rests upon his face. Each mandala slowly rotates, with the largest centrally between his brows, its innermost ring showcasing the marque of the Vishanti in stillness to the movement around it. The crosshatching thickens about his temples, successfully hiding the silvering there. It makes a mockery of the concept of a disguise, allowing the viewer some skin but still not obviously enough to warrant a challenging comment on the matter. Strategic darkening about his eyes brings their color into vibrant contrast and the lingering hue of pale-violet about their centers makes it thrilling to hold his gaze, even in passing.

His waistcoat in crushed crimson velvet, brocade patterned in black, hangs to calf-length and is belted about his waist; a single line of buttons in bronze runs up its center. Threads of gold run through the coat, giving it a sheen in the right lighting counter to what the eye sees. Beneath it, a crisp white dress shirt acts as canvas and supple black leather gloves adorn his hands. Black dress pants tucked into shined, knee-high boots complete the bottom half. A single-shouldered cape in black, thigh-length, drapes down and just might waver without a breeze present. Out of sight and never out of mind, hangs a bronze chit at his neck, the golden chain winking at unpredictable moments when the costume moves correctly on his form for natural shifts in posture.

The Sorcerer glances to his guest and finds the view appealing…to say the least. The shadows of the mask only aid and abet in placing those sharp eyes more towards lapis lazuli in hue. The candleglow of ever-present amaranthine already attempts to counter what profundity may be found with his gaze, sullies it entirely with appreciative heat.

"A tome and a teapot that you'll be courted," he murmurs, needing to lean in towards her to be heard over the murmurous hum of conversation and the music. He's not threatened, not in the least. It will be entertaining to watch them attempt it. After all, everyone wants what they can't have.


Marriage of powerful bloodlines and titles: is it a match of two terrible powers overlooked by the guardian of this dimension, or something as simple as the heiress of a military tycoon and a breathtakingly wealthy shipping magnate with honest to goodness faerie godmothers?

Wanda may not be happy playing the role of godmother. Better for everyone if she was not put in front of a spinning wheel, wool on a spindle and distaff dangling from her agile fingers, mostly because her skill in spinning is atrocious and she's bound to frown heavily upon the business of a wedding being where her reality-altering art applies. She rubs her forearm when the wards breeze over her, catching no doubt on the twenty-nine different mystical auras attached to her. Never mind the one relic at her throat, the soul-spike driven through her twin brother, and myriad other points of interest.

Right. Next to the Christmas Tree Supreme, she's merely a Charlie Brown version forgotten in the forest.

Possibly why, in a moment's notice, she is considering recalibrating her entire purpose and demeanor for something else other than the very simple garments she wears. Replace that corseted gown with, say, appropriately sourced and dirtied skirt and blouse, possibly tattered shoes, and she will be unspeakably the least belle-like of the ball. It has its particular attraction, that notion, one she muses over even while Doctor Strange, fearsome visitor and limited conversationalist, mows down the particulars.

For a mask, perhaps the only obvious choice is a blindfold. But her paranoia is too great for that. A smear of dark dirt, a few leaves stuck here and there, with twigs in her wild hair? Technically a mask. And therefore —

She's already in the shape of things before considering it, the alteration performed so fast 'whim' doesn't count. It's her mutation at the cellular level, tampered but hers, falling into place. She's a ragamuffin and could care less about that, to be sure.

"A jar of mana someone tries to sell you something," she mutters under her breath.


Far too late for Strange to do much else than widen his eyes behind his domino mask and stifle down the incredulous laugh because the major-domo's announcing them in his strident tones and gazes behind a sea of masks settle upon them with piqued interest.

Up comes the chin, out comes the charming grin meant to both settle and ruffle all at once, and with spine steeled, in they go. The ballroom is a riot of light and color, as well it should be, and the open space in the middle speaks to a play to dance to whatever…this music is called, what on earth? Once the initial ripple of reaction to their arrival has settled, the Sorcerer directs her off to one side, apart from the little groupings collecting as they naturally will in social settings.

"See the couple dancing in the very middle?" He won't point, but he will nod towards them and observe. The gentleman seems to be a veritable boulder of a man, portly and yet somehow balanced in his build, dressed in somber hues of granite and marble. The woman currently laughing at him is his willowy opposite, nearly swan-like in dress and limb alike, her tresses a rather violent shade of aubergine. "This fete is in honor of them."

Already, the Witch and her Beloved are being measured and bets whispered. Soulbond? ….someone's out to test that, gliding through the group with the shadowy grace of a shark in the shallows.


What are they going to announce, 'Vishanti priest' and 'messy peasant?' Yes, that might be appropriate but there's no trumpet for the brunette girl who encountered the bad side of a forest and fell a kilometer down a slope. She at least has intact garments, nothing to draw unwelcome attention. Her torn stockings and her plain, unpretentious garb make mockery of everyone who dares to bother with fancier things.

She tolerates the stares and the fanfare, very much the pre-Fair Lady Hepburn except no amazing transformation awaits to be seen. She won't become a brilliant butterfly out of a dull cocoon. This is why she is what she is. Simple, unremarkable, dark to the light. She can be sullen in an expensive crowd simply because her position allows it.

Wanda doesn't even bother to nod. "Ah." Almost unnecessary to ask. She glances at them through a sliver of the Sight to confirm whether they are human.


Looking upon the married couple with the Sight proves one to have bloodlines in the Swan Maidens while the other must absolutely have full-blood golem somewhere in his family — maybe a grandfather? Regardless, they seem happy, their auras a-sparkle with joy. Strange too watches with fully-lambent eyes and there's a small smile on his face. It's a blessing to not feel the sting of jealousy in light of their happiness and he's aware of the reason upon his arm, adorably-scruffy as she is.

"Their realms haven't been at war, but there were tensions. I gladly hope that the peace remains with their marriage. I don't know them as well as I should; I've dealt mostly with their parents," he explains, glancing back to Wanda. "Pride guides the actions of both royal families and old feelings die hard." A once-over and he laughs quietly, fondly. "I thought you were going to make a statement before. I take it back." His hand slides down and squeezes hers in passing before he turns his attention back to the gala, his air becoming noticeably more formal. "I expect to see a few familiar faces eventually," he adds, searching the crowd despite the masks. A limp is hard to hide, after all, as are things like antennae…and wings.


No threat, then. Golems present the worst kind of tedious company and swan maidens treasure their feathers more than their relationships. But a few steps removed, the problem is far less acute, and less a point of jailing a girl in her room and concealing her cloak in a bank vault. Romance survives even in 1964; praise be.

Wanda, of course, has all the romantic nature of a lobster staring down a pat of butter. Trust her to be more than a little distrustful for what she sees and how she interprets it, their own personal black raincloud on the affair. Or that's the purpose, the quiet human fallen into the unfamiliar world full of strangeness and charms that don't really rub off.

"They are happy." Good observation there, sorceress. Anything else to add, like water is wet? "Statement? What, that 'hello' is not good enough?" She tilts her head up to Strange, assessing him through the mask. Darkness clots her vision, a stream of shadow painted laterally over her features. Their amber is more coppery, but not much else. Girl needs a bath to wash herself clean, assuredly. "I will hope they are well. It is bad to say things at a wedding that are not these best wishes."


"Well, yes," the Sorcerer replies, turning his attention away from attempting to figure out if the tall person wearing a blue cloak hemmed in safety-orange not twenty feet away is an old friend from Kamar-Taj. "Well wishes go over best. I say a 'statement' in the meaning of fashion." He explains, as usual, with utter lack of judgment in the matter. "You stand out rather than blending in. I'm not sure that's what you wished to accomplish…?"

"The Sorcerer Supreme — as I live and breathe." Even before the voice reaches them, there's a sheering slip of the scent of charcoal and cinnamon under the nose. The speaker is about as tall as the good Doctor, dressed in finery with a lean towards the sultans of the bronze-aged Middle East, and with the full-face mask in blank white but for consummate Vs in black in glistening ink. With the veil that flows back from the edge of the porcelain to cover what hair could exist, they are indeed a mystery. The eyes within the sockets of the mask glow too, though they are near a match to the Witch's amber — more reptilian in the end, cold-fire to be found in their centers. A heavy inhale, hollowed for the slitting in the white surface, and an equally heavy sigh. "Verily. They spoke of a bonding. You must be a gem, to wear him on your arm." Those vertically-pupiled eyes slide to rest upon Wanda. "Your garments present a novelty."

“«It enhances your prestige when you are seen to cultivate even the primal forces,»” she replies almost too casually in Tibetan, though her tongue deliberately polishes every last sound of their most versatile shared language. Wanda doesn’t bother to square her shoulders or correct the drag of her stocking down her knee on a wrinkled crash. Nor are the arranged leaves and branches in her hair so artful they escape the sense of a wood nymph going through a sylvan apocalypse.

All scents flood over her while she’s curiously transparent, a process easier to attain whenever she concentrates upon centering herself on the sorcerer supreme. Her aura goes edge-on, like Saturn’s rings, completely invisible within the heavier weight of his except for the mingled sheen. Eddies swirl around in weak nebulae, evidence to her position as an arcanist of some sort. Albeit not one of the calibre of other sorcerers supreme living and dead, or even masters of the mystic arts as studied in Kamar-Taj. She’s literally hiding her light under a bushel as far as others are concerned, taking in the unfamiliar auspices of another visitor with cutting blandness. The socketed fire of the sultan’s eyes she meets without quite meeting them, refusing a glimpse into her soul.

Not here. Not really anywhere.

She bestows what constitutes a flat out grimness, no smile upon those full lips. “I ground him,” she states with all the forthright tremolo of an earthquake.

Strange’s Tibetan falls to ashes on his tongue in the face of a sudden interloper to their conversation. Instead, the man gains an imaginary inch of height for squaring himself beside Wanda, all formidable formality now, the unspoken just asking for a reason to flay the being verbally for impertinence.

“Indeed…” The drawn-out word is properly introspective in addition to the lingering attention granted to the Witch on the part of the costumed sultan. “A shame if he simply floated away on the wings of his success as mantle-holder for the threefold principalities of your dimension, oh anchoring one.”

“It has been far too long since we’ve crossed paths, Bashe,” interjects the Sorcerer, bringing the embers of the hidden eyes to rest upon himself. His aura undulates slowly about him, eclipsing into that of his ever-present shadow and peerlessly blending. The Name spoken by Strange has a light ring to it beyond hearing, felt like a drop in barometric pressure, and the being behind the mask can be heard to sigh with the nuances of burring. It’s not a snarl…not yet. “I didn’t expect to see you again so soon.” Or ever, he implies with indifference bordering on boredom.

“How could I forget the one who tricked my cousin into bondage? Your name is spoken with much reverence…Stephen Strange.” The sibilance isn’t necessarily venomous, but anti-freeze is saccharine in the end. A counter-ring sets the man’s natural Mystical energy field to fluctuating as if a leviathan stirred its depths. Cycling through breaths sets it calm again, mirror-like and refined once more, not unlike the man himself. Parry successful. “When we heard rumor of a presence at your side, I confess, my desire to learn of her nearly…ate me alive.”

The being hasn’t blinked those coal-glow eyes once this entire time. Back to Wanda they go.

Jokes and sarcasm require a deep command over any language, understanding its nuances and the hidden aspects of nonverbal communication that don’t readily appear to someone learning English. Or any tongue, for that matter. The respective response to the cut and thrust between Bashe and the good Doctor merely raise the wood-witch’s hackles. Her thinning eyes deepen to a murky hue inundated by too great a proportion of topaz to stay anywhere near the golden end of the spectrum, looking like a decent ale in comparable shade. It suits.

Her face averted from the conversation leave the vague sound of confirmation rumbling on her tightened lips. Primal urges do not warrant deeper evocative statements; she’s not giving the stranger any pithy statements from her privileged point of view on the arm of the dimension’s greatest living spellcaster. He wants to deal with that, he can ask directly or console himself with an elixir made more from smoke than practical flavours and substances. She’s a terrible partner for comedy and ideal for poker.

Who wants to play poker with an western diamondback rattler or, worse, a krait with the same flat, incomprehensible stare? Even if they’re cute in a serpentine way.

Caustic substances meet with the endless chunk of dull continent she personifies, the basement rock not bound to awake or shake without very good reason. The man in the mask hasn’t blinked. She will, as a biological imperative, but neither is she going to give any ground in interest. It’s not as though her nature much welcomes it.

And it’s not as though her forefather is silent, ever, responding to any inquiries made too deep with an air of urgency by occasionally forcing her to float off the ground while inundated by his particularly bleak gravitation aura. It doesn’t happen often; when it does, however, it’s the equivalent of a nuclear bomb at a cocktail party.

It might be considered that what masquerades as ‘man’ in familiar build and costume plays poker regularly with those of serpentine ilk. A recalcitrant response wouldn’t ruffle feathers even if they were present. It simply remains a point of intrigue, her lack of immediate eye contact and silence.

Welcome to Who’s Going to Blink, where humanity is made up and the points don’t matter because the physiological rewetting of eyes doesn’t exist to the stranger anyways.

“Insatiable as always,” comments Strange, the thin-lipped smile he wears absolutely missing his eyes by a thousand miles and a mesosphere. “You heard us introduced and Miss Maximoff needs no more introduction as is. If you’ll excuse us, I believe I see the diplomats from the Jovian Twelfth dimension waving to me. I need to finish discussing orbital territory delineations with them.”

“You are excused.” The Bashe doesn’t move an inch, barely seems to breathe, and certainly doesn’t mind. “I would have further conversation with your companion.”

She breathes, of course. As much as Strange does, Wanda’s foibles are those of a nature common to all breakable, vulnerable, mortal people. Her bones wither in age. Her back may stoop, and hair grey. Every breath is a pulse closer to Death’s kingdom, without fail, a weakness surveyed from the instant of her birth. She is not a god of Asgard or Olympus or half a dozen other fabled places where mortality is as little understood as quantum physics is by the typical New Yorker.

Is there a quest not to blink? She’s wholly ignorant of the possibility, turning her head away from it and deliberately resisting the temptation to look back at the stolid, weird presence of “The Bashe” who so refuses to give her consort his due. Pay no privilege to Strange, she refuses to reflect it back unless propriety and wisdom earned by slant means compel her to.

Strange may depart without her leave. In this company, Wanda’s a small fish… then, so are irukandji and blue-ringed octopi, and they’re plenty capable of defending themselves against the intermittent threat occasionally prone to stamping around too heavily in the shallow end of the genetic sea.

She’ll only extricate his hand if he seems fit to release her arm for whatever reasons. Maybe there needs to be some kind of Roman standoff with this being as he retreats to discuss orbital patterns — as if that means anything to her. In another language, sure.

“What do you want?”

The Sorcerer’s eyes shift slowly from the Bashe and to his Consort. She’ll recognize that slim, knife-like curve to his lips, kukri’s wave with fine edge in social malice.

“I leave you in her capable hands,” murmurs Strange. A little squeeze to impart affection and promise on her arm and the man in the crushed velvet waistcoat then departs…but not after giving the one so very interested in Wanda a warning look. Hmm — someone’s had their ego pricked.

The Bashe is still, unnaturally so, until the mantle-bearer of the Vishanti is beyond immediate arm’s reach and then comes the resetting of posture. It’s vaguely alien, as if the being wearing humanity as a guise is attempting to placate her with such a motion. Those burning eyes never cease to focus upon her from behind the porcelain mask.

She asks, the thing replies, “To understand what makes you delectable to him. You wear one another with no heed. Explain to me, please, how you came to own his heart.”

Across the ballroom, a good few dozen feet away, Strange lifts a hand to accent whatever point of calm logic he’s injecting into the mildly heated conversation. The diplomat across from him responds and then the other and the Sorcerer can be seen to nod and then continue talking. Between points, he glances back over his shoulder towards his Consort and the inquisitive creature before her. The nature of his attention, even when not facing her, might be felt like a fingertip to a pulse-point upon the diamond-weave of the soulbond itself.


She always has an eye open to the events swirling around her, particularly where they knot and spiral in a greater whirlpool about the Sorcerer Supreme. Anything falling into his gravity well carries the consideration of the distrustful satellite running against his outer orbit, turned to the greater threat that might be out there.

The Bashe counts as a very real threat, to be sure, but focused on her. Therefore she lowers its threat rating instinctively, not quite meeting those burning eyes.

Not while there are greater predators in pretty garments and she is the slovenly little forest maid; not when he courts danger from the twitching frowns and jealous slander inserted into the harmonics of a conversation Wanda is infinitely sensitive to. It comes with not knowing the language so well.

“I am not good to taste,” she answers the porcelain faced horror. “What do you think he eats?” The poisoned uplift of her gaze lasts a heartbeat. He doesn’t actually eat where anyone ever sees. Let that be a suggestive implant right there.

“I do not presume to hazard at what the mantle-bearer imbibes to remain alive. That you stand here means he is opposed to cannibalism.” So dryly-spoken. The momentary lock of stares seems to excite the creature in some manner for another shifting in costumed place.

“You side-step my questioning in regards to your worth to him. I should be offended, but I think I am entertained in the end, little anchor-Witch. Are you so afraid to claim your status beside him? It could be construed as weakness.” Those cold-fire eyes eclipse behind the mask to half-slits. “Your people have a saying, something about those four-legged creatures you claim as companions. Dags. Nay, not such…though the word sounds as such. They eat one another in your world. I will grant you the favor of informing how your status is perilous without defense.” A slow nod that dips the masked face, momentarily cutting off sight of the glowing eyes.

The return to full focus on her face is slow, the weight of the creature’s attention dragging up the length of her body. Still no blink once the Bashe looks upon her grime-smeared visage again.

“How you claim him, I wonder still.”

One of the diplomats is gesticulating more wildly now, though it seems to be a story of hilarity rather than disagreement for some term placed upon the metaphorical table of discussion. Strange’s shoulders can be seen to jump and a brief toss-back of his head as a true laugh belts from him, heard and lost immediately in the conversational buzz of the ballroom. The dancers continue at their turns and sweeps across the floor and the married couple is still a-glow with happiness. At least, on the polished floor, goodwill reigns there. His black-gloved hands can be seen to counter-sign, a comet trail of magic sparkling and fading behind a particularly fluid movement, and then…jazz-hands. These, apparently required an explanation for the confused looks he receives and then delayed laughter in turn. Another glance over his shoulder towards Wanda and the perk of faint query travels along the soulbond, a request for a status update, if you will.

“Does the world ask of its star? Does the night need to talk about the day to rocks and trees and dirt?” Questions that come without heat are shot one after the other, launched from a well-balanced compound reason. She aims and fires as fast as one might expect, showing little concern on the whole. “He does not need a shield who is the Sorcerer Supreme.”

The very sharp entendres shared elsewhere are not used by her, and she looks flatly up through the darkened rime streaked over her face. Nature holds edges, jagged precipices and lava for its weapons, earthquakes and storms and deadly gases locked beneath fissures to the magmatic layer as needed.

A raise of her shoulder doesn’t dispel the ragged attire around her. “It is very simple. Maybe you look too hard and there is an answer in your face. I am his and he is mine. With all that means. I do not have need to make pretty words and pretty poetry for anyone. Too many here think it important that we have these veils for words. I will grant you favour.

“I give you truth. Respect us, and you will go on as you do. Disturb us and your existence ends.”

She deigns to give the slightest upturn of a smile that is no more human than the Bashe’s face is human. No power is called on, not a glimmering of a spell. Reality doesn’t warp or twist in her favour. Merely the slightest ripple touches her aura, reflective, aligned to linear planes of crystal and just perhaps, just perhaps, if someone looks so close…

A mote of fire and a spiral of scintillating amaranthine light. Look too close and it’s the fires of the eldest evil and the counterweight of his sisters.

What wide, dark pupils glitter behind the white mask slowly begin to narrow to vertical ovaloids. More of the fiery orange irises eclipses it and in degrees, the creature seems to draw itself up until at its tallest.

“I do not remember offering you an iota of a threat, anchor-Witch. I merely indulge my curiosity in the matter of your bonding. No tale to tell and I granted you wisdom. I may find insult.” From within the confines of the porcelain facade comes a sibilation.

Sensitivity of the Richter Scale of Wanda registers said riffling and Strange, with back turned, can be seen to make one last expressive gesture. The palm, left facing upwards before him, seems to be inquiring as to something in the conversation. One diplomat looks to the other and chalices clink metal upon precious metal. It seems some sort of peace, even fleeting, has been brokered and the Sorcerer inclines his head, respectful and not in the least self-debasing. A last comment on his part and there are amused smiles, one indulging — it wasn’t that funny — and then he can depart. It will still take several purposeful strides, no quicker than necessary, to reach the epicenter of the rumble to his senses. Along the way, a well-dressed Harpy snags his sleeve and he must wheel in place, surprised enough that his own aura spikes briefly, and then there’s a short exchange to be had. The creature has some news to relay and Strange frowns, folding his arms. The gesture proves a shield to test the resiliency of the fabric of his waistcoat with fingertips. Whew, no holes.


Fear. She should know the taste of fear and the consequences. How many faces of fear were presented to her by a master of it?

The fear of her brother’s death. The end of her own survival. Entrapment underground, drowning, fire were all standard, knives and spears and guns. The fear of running through tangled streets with hunters in pursuit is so much like the fear of the demons that stalked her dreams from the astral and the living nightmare when they closed in on children. Wanda’s habitual distrust is not her ally much of the time; others, it presents a useful out.

Let the Bashe unleash its terror upon her, slandering her lack of a reputation and beckoning violence as she rocks back on her heels slightly. Not immune to terror, not by half, but it’s the poisoned bread and the sour milk she’s imbibed all her life as a deliberate effort to harden her system against its effects.

“You say I am weak. Food for bigger things.” Her tone is flat, her utterances all edges and crumbling slate in rocky sheets from the dispassionate cleft where thought prevails. Each rumble is an utterance. “I entertain you. Now you have offense when entertaining witch sings. That is too bad.”

She does not smile. It would show teeth and that is a step too far, probably when they expect fangs. No bow sketched; she walks sideways, away from immediate risk.

«Rudely behaved monster thinks he is only monster in room. Asks rude questions. May be a good appetizer for a wurm.»

«How unbecoming,» replies the Sorcerer in the tongue of highest mountains even as he turns his head just enough to allow a slide of glowing eyes to land upon them both, Witch and Bashe alike.

The unfailing attention of the Bashe does not rise from the interest at hand, tail and rail-thin beneath the costuming as it is.

“You cannot deny it, morsel. A retreat is wise. You would entertain me long enough to tickle as you went down my throat.” Another hiss beneath the porcelain. “I have gained what I need know. Scuttle away.” Dismissive? Absolutely. If she’s gained a suspicion of a sudden strike, well…the inclination could be clear in the microshifts of the creature’s posture.

«I am coming,» Strange reminds her even as he offers some side comment to the Harpy who’s showing clear irritation over his divided attention in what must be a very serious matter.


The little wood witch knows better than to play her hand at such an obvious provocation. She was trained for many situations, rarely high society venues. Certainly Wanda knows about things more powerful, people more powerful, beings more terrifying. Never show that terror, and back away slowly, key lesson.

She smiles at the serpent thing. The cold, feral smile her brother mastered almost at birth. It crooks a little higher on the left than the right, a blitz of a grin that shows only… well, teeth. Contempt. Humour. Amusement about everything.


The very impudence in even asking is almost a challenge. Along the soul bond thrums an electrical charge, a pull tugging on the immense energy well as the seals start rupturing around her own.

«That hand should leave your shirt. How very rude.» That much, loving.

Pride will tell. So will that other, say not its name in vain. It takes a nanosecond for volatile intent to shift, to align.

It’s the cold shard of anger shaken free from somewhere deep. The iron in her blood quickening in her veins. Heat flooding over her blank purple vision, the swarming fields aligning to gravitational pulses. Fine micropoints of probability weave into profoundly active lines, a personal magnetic field broadening around her. It seethes, hyper-reactive, rotating to engulf the woman in a heartbeat.

Every intersection makes a narrow jagged point of karma. The fortunopause pours away from her opposite to the gaseous sheath about a star, pointing at the Bashe rather than away. Anything closer would be positively bathed in the outflow amassing a presence, though it doesn’t make much difference — behind, before, they’re the same to the orbital fates drawn around her.

The razor-sharp surge along the soul-bond makes the Sorcerer visibly straighten up, as if someone ran a cold fingertip down his spine. Clueless to the reaction and prattling on in the beaky speech known to the species, the Harpy is just finishing a sentence when he interrupts.

“My lady, a moment, please. Something needs my attention elsewhere. Hold your thought on the impact of the weaponry?” The creature sighs through her nose, the sound sharp and squeaky, and huffs — but it’s clear that the duties of the man’s mantle outweigh her discussion. “I thank you. I promise to speak with you again before the night ends.”

His half-cape swirls in a mimicry of the usual crimson flare as Strange finishes those strides he began earlier. The prickle of the Witch’s aura is singular to step into and sets his teeth on edge even as he pauses beside her, looking first over her and then to the Bashe, who is taller and thinner within that odd royal costuming.

“Is there an issue?”

Behind the interlacing of golden glow-wires of his mask, his eyes bleed to amaranthine about the centers, first flush of instinctive draw upon his own wellspring of power. The words spoken earlier drop like stones upon delicate crockery, sharply-edged in a way.

The Bashe, against possible perception, remains utterly silent, its gaze unwavering from Wanda. She’s marked as the greater of the evils in the moment because bluff has met bluff and the scales of action balance in a knife’s edge.


Bluff may have met bluff, but for a single failing on Wanda’s part. She so rarely lies, manipulation a gift of her laughing brother. It’s not to say she can’t, only that she rarely has reason to perform sleight of hand. Part of that is boundary-making, a limit on her spells provided by the Vishanti. Mayhap not spells so much as intentions, the power to warp curbed by quiet, profound regard for the guardian who might be called to subvert his desires and level her.

But a spin of fortune around her, formless and void, is another matter entirely. It promises reward for her defense and risk to those who impede upon it, fed through the lens of intention judged on the cosmic stage. Fate is, after all, a force embodied in the mightiest scale. She’s but a child of it, older and greater than chaos, all the potential somethings and could-bes.

Eyes focus on the Bashe just above its actual gaze, the position of a chakra more than anything. The intensity is casual, hooded eyes and pouting mouth the hint of someone rising from the boudoir or a novel rather than confronting another at a fancy dress party.

Strange wades in and finds himself no doubt the centre of attention, limelight turned to see where he goes. Oscillations in the rotational orbit slide around to divert past him, enveloping him in the bent curves and rays of her aura.

Stuck in one’s throat and clearly a dismissed creature; she’s not going to bother provoking further action beyond what the Bashe already has. But neither does she slink off with her tail between her legs. Her opaque eyes rest on that spot even while waiting to be reclaimed by the Sorcerer Supreme.

Then there’s the little matter of silences and yawning rudenesses. Worry about those later.

«Hello, love.»



Another shift in weight brings the beginning of an eclipse across her form for the line of his sleeve, wrinkled and nearly punctured in places by grabby Harpy talons. The creature watches, intrigued, but she sips at her drink and keeps her gossip within her immediate circle. From behind the porcelain mask, the fiery focus slides to Strange and locks gazes with him.

The air pressure around them drops enough to cause ears to pop. The Sorcerer never looks away. An elemental mistake, attempting an outfacing; the supernatural may make light of ancient pathways in the human brain, but nothing so easy as to trigger a defensive reaction as an unwanted staredown.

“….no.” It’s barely heard from the sultan-esque figure.

The Bashe is reticent to continue the encounter now that the Other Half is present, tempest in a teapot at the moment for the frosty glitter in the man’s eyes.

“Excellent.” The crispness of the consonants might shatter a pane of glass. “If you’ll excuse us both.”

Said woodsy raggamuffin has her arm captured with gently polite (and implacable) intention — she’s perfectly able to link elbow or rest a hand on his forearm, whatever seems best — and it’s only once Strange is beyond the meridian of passing the Bashe that he breaks gazes with the creature. It’s back to the Harpy that he travels at a slower pace, intent on finishing out that conversation, at least. Extra insult for the utterly lazy “retreat” on his part. Look, an unprotected shot at my parting back that you can’t have. …neener-neener.

The Bashe wends its way back into the crowd, offering no parting comment. There’s a nice grudge to brew anyways.

The Bashe probably would love to have a parting shot except the magic in question hovering in anticipation is the sort that will end up with him falling down some stairs, even in a realm with no stairs to speak of.

Wanda will find some for him.

Maybe she already has. Perhaps every route he takes away constitutes nothing but slippery stairs on a deadly route, all broken railings and crooked risers, worn carpets and banana peels just for him.

She allows Strange to haul her along, his personal albatross around the neck. The harpy is probably mortified by her presence, and she does not regret her choice of looking like the sole mortal of any inconsequence in the current affair.

Why, she might even leave dirty footprints. Jury is out on that. Consort to the most powerful mystic in the dimension, she hardly warrants more than a pine cone to the redwood. The entire point, of course.

“And now?” Short, curt word choice is her default, but it’s not angry. Truly, he probably has a destination with her grubby little hand locked around his forearm like he’s a branch she means to climb.

If said Bashe finds a stairwell, one must consider the visual of a slinky — coils and chaos, tumbling down and down, end over end. What awful luck!

Strange glances over to her and no ire is assigned for her laconic speech. If anything, they’re peas in a pod unless given to extemporizing a speech on a thing of grand personal interest. The Sorcerer? Absolutely. Get a few drinks in the man and he does ramble.

“We take some air,” he replies quietly. The Harpy gets a polite nod as they pass by and she watches the pair go, blinking her eyelids and considering before turning back to her gossipy group of hens. He heads for one of the side halls, parting the costumed crowd with ease — probably more credit given to the steely no-nonsense glare he seems to wield like a weapon.

Wait, shouldn’t the hallway extend another half-building’s worth or so? What’s this spiral staircase leading upwards? Must be a Mystical touch. It seems to lead to the same level as the balconies overlooking the ballroom floor below. As he ascends the steps, he murmurs to the Witch,

“I apologize in the creature’s stead. It is no friend of mine. It spoke true in regards to its cousin. The vase on the corner table in the Sanctum’s second floor hall? Its cousin is captured inside that.” Oh yes, that vase, with the glazing in molten splatters of gold and translucent green overtop ivory, with the stylized closure that brings to mind a creature of possible equine origin. Or a dragon, if one’s imagination is broader still.

How explanatory, that the monster in the mask is rather part of their nice decorating efforts in the New York sanctum.

“We should move that to London.” Isn’t she a sweet girl assuming that? Wanda cares for the safety of their pretty little house, the harmony of the morning and night important enough to warrant threatening monsters beyond her ken without remorse.

Admittedly a fine time to take their leave up onto the balcony where fresh air kisses the cheeks and the ripe humidity of the city adds to the pressure cooker effect. Her eyes fade into the spectra of emissions usually known only to mages and wizards, drinking in the impossible. Distrust for the makers or the outcomes are plain; someone would be happy to trap Strange there in a cage, and while he may never starve, she can.

It’s old instinct, ever haunting the corners of the mind. Her hand may rest on his forearm but her fingers curl tight into the fine array that’s usually replaced by overlapping straps on his sleeve, a braided element to the familiar outfit.

“I miss the Cloak.” Truth told, she hasn’t wrapped herself up in it for days.

Drawn away from observing what he can of the rise of the city around them, Strange then gathers up her hand and brings up her knuckles to his lips. It’s a soothing gesture on his part; he felt the clench of tension in her grip, not necessary for her impeccable balance.

“We can go for a flight after this,” he murmurs, thumb brushing overtop the soft ridges of bony structure back and forth, metronomic, present. The black gloves, supple and containing all the warmth of his skin, are likely minky in a way. “Before the weather gets too cold in the lower atmosphere. I’d rather keep the vase here, in New York.” His eyes, still shadowed by impossible darkness behind the delicately-glowing mask, twinkle in that gentle fondness he imparts upon her in moments of peace. “It is my responsibility. And, unfortunately, the London Sanctum just had an influx of apprentices. Someone’s bound to get curious or a case of idiocy and attempt to meddle with the binding on it. It can’t REALLY contain a dragon, can it?, they’ll say — It’s too small for a dragon. Let’s look.” The short sigh and set of his jaw precedes a few shakes of his head. “As long as it remains identified as a decoration to our guests and not as relic, it will be safe in the Sanctum.”


“Are the new ones so foolish? They would die for that. A lesson bad to learn,” Wanda echoes the sentiment of surprise and grim acknowledgment in the same tone.

She really isn’t as surprised as she should be. The lessons of her childhood were extreme in every fashion, nothing at all like the soft, tender upbringing most sorcerers and wizards receive.

Oh, they’re all bound to take their lumps. But that’s really, the follies described by Strange accord with her own experience and Agatha’s countless warnings. Heed what you will, of course.

Her hand in his forms a bridge across which she leans over, pressing her lips to the hard shell of his mask. Whatever frisson exploding against her skin from the ambient energy will not prevent her from sampling the taste and renewing the bond that constantly redefines itself at every moment.

Whatever answers her eyes hold, she remains silent for a moment while sheltering in the Sorcerer Supreme’s shadow. Any incurious harpy or elemental bound to mortal form might be terribly interested to see that affiliation of wood nymph and jocular power-that-be bound so.

But for those rare moments they can snatch for themselves, Wanda will risk being seen if only to practice the fledgling skills of a hug.

It might feel like the surprise static of winter’s dry air suffusing her lips but for the warmth and the lack of pain. After all, the mask itself is composed of strands of contained energy per its caster’s whims. Its wearer dimples and gathers the woodsy ragamuffin against his front, into his arms, pressing his own kiss first against her hair. Even decorated as it is with burrs and twigs, it remains inestimably soft and safeguard of her own dark-floral scent.

“I doubt the Masters of the London Sanctum would let it get as far as the testing of the bindings, but there would be punishment in lieu of the worst of lessons.” Death, yes, that’s the most final lesson of all. No coming back from that — unless you piss off Lady Death and she does hold grudges, so still not a good idea in the end. “You and I, we know better. The vase will remain undisturbed here in New York.”

The next kiss falls upon the third chakra, between her brows. The last? Upon her lips as Strange lifts her chin with gently implacable force. Sweet, lingering, a firm statement. Who cares what the rest of the gathering thinks? Out of immediate sight, they can indulge in a bond tested time and time again that remains true to its weaving: diamond-esque.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License