1964-10-04 - Borrowing a Second Ring
Summary: Upon realizing that there is another matching ring to the one worn by Lamont, Strange hunts it down and fences wits with a youthful night-watchman in order to retrieve it.
Related: A Willow in the Wind
Theme Song: None
lamont strange 

Having an eidedic memory is a double-edged sword at times. Being able to remember the exact setting of that dark-opal ring, down to the crisp Russian writing inscribed upon its inner band, is delightful.

Knowing that you've read about it before becomes a pain in the ass when it's somewhere in your library. Having raided a good third of the shelves dedicated specifically to instances of lost-and-found relics, legendary jewelry, and enchanted gemstones, the Sorcerer leans against the middling vertical plank of burnished wood and sighs, running a hand down his face.

"I know I've seen that before….!!!" He hisses to himself, squinting at the faded title of a tome across the aisle. A headache, purely from grinding his teeth, encroaches. Maybe books aren't the way to go about it. Maybe…maybe it's Mystical sympathy in combination with memory…? He held the thing, after all, long enough for it to have a nice chitchat with his prideful nature. A deep inhale and…Strange centers himself.

Unerringly, the image of the ring, white gold and fire-lit opal, appears in his mind, hanging before a black velvet background. Glinting with subtle power, he focuses upon it and then casts strands of willpower about the library. The skein of intent flies and — throws him for a loop. One strand flies farther — much farther — than the library. What's this…? A resonance not located in New York proper?

Eyes flash open, revealing the glow of the Arts within them. The ring has a twin!!! "Ohhhhh…seven hells," he whispers to himself, heart dancing in his throat in passing, even as he breaks into motion. The black Belstaff is gathered up and crimson Cloak arrives on the snap of a summons, slipping into scarf-mode about his neck.

Aligning himself to the siren call of another ring containing compulsion-boosting abilities, Strange opens a Gate upon…

A store room, in fact. Full of valuable artifacts, it seems. The end of that thread of resonance there pulses within what can only be a a heavy-duty safe. But there are jeweled icon covers surrounding the dark-eyed, mournful faces of saints and the virgin. There's one of Saint Isidore that looks bizarrely like Lindon - the same strong bones and dark hair. Statues, sculptures, dishes. Arranged carefully….and there's no dust. Not abandoned, whatever this is. More than one thing has a tinge of old magic about it.

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 20

Carefully, Strange looks about the store room, his face peeking just beyond the vertical plane of two separated realities. No one appears to be present and so, with scarred hands in his pockets, he steps into the room. Brow flick up as he considers the wide array of objects available to immediate mundane sight.

"Must be a museum," he mutters to himself. The Sorcerer's attention unerringly returns to that safe, with its thick steel sides and he meanders over to it. "Right, well. This is adorable." With the ambient light of the Sight seen in his irises, he picks out the spiderweb-weaving of wards about the safe's surface. Ooh, that would have been embarrassing, stuck to it more firmly than if slimed by the combination of giant off-world chameleon spit and Gorilla glue. "Hmm."

Instead of attempting to pry open the door with force, he leans closely and whispers to the safe. It's a slippery-sounding set of Words, the intent to be a Mystical skeleton key that trips whatever number of tumblers necessary to allow the door to…simply swing open of its own volition.

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 1

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 12

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 17

It works like an honest to god charm. It's like the safe is one of the Beast's enchanted servants absolutely determined that the visiting Sorcerer Supreme gets to take home the shiniest possible souvenirs. The safe's door swings open without a creak. It's full of jewels, all genuine, many of them at least minorly magical, each in a protective case. Right on the shelf before Strange is the ring he seeks, as if it'd elbowed its way to the fore in order to leap directly into the magician's pocket as soon as possible. There's that yearning expression of not-quite-will - pick me! Pick me! This is going to be like taking candy from a baby.

Strange is no dummy. And he can feel another sorcerer in the building. It's the dim hours of night, here in Leningrad….the watchman's noticed him, and there's some sort of magical sensor trained on Strange. Not malevolent, not yet, but the equivalent of hearing someone shout in surprise.

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 11

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 16

"Gods below, I love being me," the Sorcerer murmurs to himself, watching the door swing open silently. Behind him, the open Gate continues to fritz and crackle in a perfect circle framed by chained lightning. And there — seven hells, indeed. Amidst rubies and carbuncles the size of quail eggs and in front of what must be the famed Hope Diamond (no touching that one, he knows the story well enough!), there's the twin to the ring worn by his fauxapprentice. It sits within a ring case with clear top, nestled into the slit in padded silk. Not white-gold, but a warm red-gold that immediately compliments the tornadic spin of Fae-fire to be found in the opal's depths. Not as smokey-black, this particular stone, but still bright and glinting and indeed, he can sense it calling, almost wagging its tail in greeting.

But — "Dammit." Lifting his head, Strange seems to look beyond the walls themselves. There — the sensation of being 'noticed'. He bares teeth and sucks in a sharp inhale, glancing back to the ring. The weight of attention abates and shift off of him to behind him — and there's the metaphysical equivalent of jamming a foot in the door. "DAMMIT!" There's something about the room itself that apparently stops Gates from collapsing.

To override the power would be to announce to the entire location that a power more…well, powerful than the average practitioner is present. Very few contain the sheer wattage to crush such an enchantment.

With a sigh, rueful and accepting, Strange reaches out and plucks the ring case from the safe. Into his pocket it goes, a subtle spell of muffling about it, and then he stands there, eyeing the physical entrance to the room with a noble air of…boredom.

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 3

There's a little fizzly point of blue-green light, there, buzzing….and then it fades. He can feel that presence coming closer, mustering defensive magic, and not doing it well. The grip on power is flailing and imprecise. Someone young and not yet terribly confident. The door's main room bursts open, and there's a dark haired young man there, dressed in a night watchman's uniform. «What are you doing?» he demands, in brisk and impatient…..Russian.

One dark brow lifts high and imperious. Ah, youth. This one…this one he might be able to bluster through simply by entitlement of age and mien. Russian isn't his first language, but thankfully, there's a spell for that. Barely moving his lips, Strange whispers an incantation that grants a temporary All-Speak like state. His tongue goes briefly numb, as if shot full of Novocaine, and then it's able to form those harsher nuances of the language.

"«Checking upon the storage status of your relics. Are you aware that this safe was no difficulty at all to open? Whomever set the wards should be ashamed.»" His hands spread wide to encompass the room. "«The amount of old magic stored here would tempt a dragon. Who are you? I demand an explanation.»" It's the same tone of voice that sent interns scattering and turned apprentices at Kamar-Taj to wide-eyed mutes.

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 9

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 7

He can't be more than eighteen, nineteen. No acne, but he's still got that puppy face. Dark hair, blue eyes, pale skin. He even cocks his head at Strange like a curious husky. He draws himself to attention at that peremptory town. «I'm Dmitri Alyoshevich Smirnov,» he says, without hesitation. «And I didn't set them, but I'll notify my superior this morning. And you are?»

"«Dmitri.»" The youth is considered in that distant manner, where all emotion is voided for the sheer impress of intellectual chill. "«I am the Sorcerer Supreme. I do these things, check upon the relics not within my immediate keeping.»" With an idle gesture, he wills the door of the safe shut. The brush of visible golden light brightens and fades out, acting as touch instead of his skin. That sticky-fingers charm is still upon the metal, after all.

"«Let your supervisor know that I was here. If anything is to be found missing, he may take it up with me.»" Still…to claim that Strange himself has light fingers and 'borrowed' a relic…? A heavy and risky thing. The man is almost daring the institute to make such a claim.

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 11

He looks properly overawed by that title…and the weight of truth behind it. he says, dubiously. «Couldn't you let me wake my boss? So you can explain….» Apparently more terrified of his superior than he is of Strange's wrath. He confides, after a moment, «Ekaterina, she's just about a *dragon* as it is, when it comes to what we've got here. She might not believe me.»

"«Ah, she,»" Strange amends tartly. "«Why would she not believe you, Dmitri? Have you given her reason to doubt you? You were quick to herald my arrival. She should be pleased at your quick actions and bravery in facing an unknown intruder.»"

His smile shows slowly, cajolingly, the charm turned up with care. Perhaps he can catch the youth like a frog in boiling water, the temperature rising so slowly as to be unnoticed until far too late. "«There is also the fact that sleeping dragons are best left to lie, hmm?»"

Worry furrows his brow. «Could you leave a note? A sigil? Something? I don't lie, but she says my imagination gets the better of me.» Someone has cried wolf in the past, it might be. Or jumped at shadows.

The slow sigh is dragged out long enough to crystallize his feelings on the matter of…leaving a note.

Again, the imperious eyebrow. Another beat or two of silence and that damn morality gets the better of the Sorcerer.

"«…Find me a slip of paper and a pen. I'll write you a hall pass.»" He sounds very unamused. "«If it'll keep you from another tongue-lashing, I will make note that you executed your required tasks with brevity and courage.»" Cash in on the notoriety of his name. Yep, he's going to do that.

«All right,» He's much sunnier now that the doctor's going to write him an excuse. It does not occurr to him that he's going to have to leave Strange alone on his own in here for a moment or two while he gets paper and pen. «I'll be right back!» And with that, he's dashing back out into the dimly lit hallway.

With another sigh, Strange rubs up the back of his neck with one hand and into his dark hair, slowly scratching with blunt nails to self-soothe as he wrestles his pride back into place. It was never going to be easy, he expected this. The kid meant well, in the end, and he was doing his job as best he could — though if he ever got to speak with Ekaterina in person, he would level the brutal truth of the failed defensive spell and council her in training the night staff to better accuracy of cast.

In his pocket, muffled, he can sense the red-gold ring emitting a faint sense of…happiness, almost. Ah, to be left to gather dust for so long, and now — a practitioner of much power! How…metaphorically-thrilled it is.

He comes scampering back in moments, this poor little apprentice. He's got a pen and paper in hand, which he proffers to Strange with….not quite a smile, but a pleasant expression. «Thank you,» he says, cheerfully. «It will help. You should tell her about the warding spell, too.» Then he looks abashed, as if he'd said more than he should've.

Taking the offered sheet and the writing utensil, Strange gives the youth a forced smile and then finds the nearest surface. A little willpower, flush of magic to damaged nerves, and thus he scratches out, in English:


When executing my impromptu visit, I was greeted by your night staff member, Dmitri. He was prompt in noting my presence as well as attempting to deter it. Grant him clemency in light of being unable to deter my arrival and consequent check upon your wardings.
The safe, in particular, was unfortunately easy to open. Might I recommend a warding based in the magics of the Svartalf mages. The ancient Egyptians utilized an interesting twist upon the curses in their tombs.
I have closed the safe and enacted my own wardings upon it. You will find them easy enough to unbind should the need arise to retrieve anything from within.

Stephen Strange, Sorcerer Supreme

After signing his name upon the bottom of the sheet, he folds it over thrice and holds it out to the youth. "There."

Dmitri accepts it with gratitude. He doesn't salute, but just beams at Strange, tucking the note away in his jacket. «Do you want some tea? I was just about to make some.»

"Ah…" The sound is hesitant and Strange clicks the pen into dormancy even as he gestures back at the still-open Gate. Thank the gods Aralune hasn't come poking her head in. A nearly-adult Malk would be chaos in this room. Some of the relics absolutely have an aura of old blood about them.

"«Thank you, Dmitri, for the offer, but this is just one of the many things on my list to accomplish today.»" The pen comes with; no leaving things about with his aura on it, just in case. "«I should be getting back to business as is.»" He slips his hands into the pockets of his Belstaff coat again and takes a few steps back towards the rift in reality.

The foot in the door is gone, so to speak. «All right,» says the kid, for so he is, really. «Go safely, Sorcerer.» The last thing Strange sees before the gate irises closed is Dmitri waving goodbye.

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