1965-01-31 - A Cracker-Jack Hunt
Summary: In the usual manner, Strange wrangles in Lamont to aid him in testing a few of the best that Kamar-Taj has to offer. The hunt begins!
Related: None
Theme Song: None
lamont strange 

It came upon a midnight clear and…had…nothing to do with angels at all, really. More that it was a summons from the Sorcerer Supreme himself, a murmured summons carried by a wisp of the Sanctum's guardian spells. Silver-sylph, it wove in a lazy circle until the message was conveyed and then zipped far more swiftly back in the direction of its caster.

"Bring yourself and your wits tomorrow afternoon, Cranston." Nothing more was conveyed; if anything could have been construed from it further, perhaps the merest glint of humor buried deep down within. The following day dawns bright and clear, cold per the loss of warmth-preserving clouds, and arriving at the front door means that the door opens before even a knock can happen.

"You must be the other apprentice." Not Strange at all, but a young woman in journeyman-reds whose accent betrays her origins of Australia. Her eyes are a clear green-grey and hard, crystalline rather than limpid behind her lashes. "We're meeting in the living room." With that curt direction, she turns away and walks stiff-backed in the direction of said room.

Truth compels him to allow that he doesn't always bring his wits. Sometimes he brings his guns instead. This time, he's in one of his trademark gray suits, maroon tie, the duller daytime plumage, and a far cry from the usual scarlet and black. A leather day bag in hand - sparring gear, should the occasion warrant it. The bluntness only earns her a mild raise of his brows, and he folllows silently after only an inclination of his head.

It's within the living room that Strange can be found. He's speaking quietly to another newcomer, a young man with long blond hair braided to his mid-back. He also sports Kamar-Taj's journeyman-reds and glances over when the young woman enters the room. Lamont gets a far more friendly response from him, a short wave and grin, and then the Sorcerer is eyeing the Shadow in turn.

"I appreciate your punctuality, Cranston. You may set your bag aside and then I'll explain what this is all about. Tea is by the fireplace if you're inclined to a cup." He nods towards the tea stand, with its collection of clay mugs and perpetually-warmed tea pot. Strange himself wears his Master-blues, the stormy battle-leathers of his title, and the Eye of Agamotto is actually about his neck in a rather ceremonial manner. The gemstone winks in the pale light filtering in through the tall windows.

It's lucky he didn't show up in sweat pants and a t-shirt. Wizards are so fussy about etiquette, aren't they? Lamont's left hat and topcoat in the hall, , as well as his bag. "Thank you, I think I will." Not exactly frosty, but definitely wearing that mask of reserve, even if it's not up to full English strength at the moment. The ring, it seems, has been returned. At least, the dark opal gleams on his left hand ring finger. Not as if there'll ever be a wedding band to displace it. Not for decades, anyway. He pours himself tea, doctors it to his liking, and then sits almost demurely in one of the chairs.

No ring to be seen on Strange's fingers, white-opal or not, and his hands disappear beneath folded arms as he takes his usual stance grounded in quiet confidence. He stands in plain view of all present, including the two journeymen from Kamar-Taj. The blond man has remained seated in one of the wooden chairs tucked against the side study-table, leaning his forearms on its back. He sits reversed in it, resting his weight on its slabbed back and with legs parted across the seat. The young woman, she of brown hair cropped nearly to a pixie bob and cold greeting, stands at attention by the fireplace.

"You're all here because it's time to test you." The Sorcerer lets that statement linger in the air before he continues. "Cranston, this is Journeywoman Victoria and Journeyman Aleski." Both young people sporting their reds nod to Cranston, one more stiffly than the other. "Students of Kamar-Taj, this is Lamont Cranston. Here, you are all equals."

He gives no lineage - his apprenticeship has been an oddity the entire time as it is. "A pleasure," he says, gently. Not particularly sure what bee in her bonnet warrants him her lack of pleasantry, but not inclined to let it bother him. He's sipping his tea, politely. If he's nervous, well, Gods forbid that stiff upper lip let it show.

"Indeed, a nicety to meet you as well," replies Aleski to the Shadow, his accent heavily indicative of the northern European countries. Victoria merely nods again, looking back at the Sorcerer afterwards. Giving Cranston the faintest of satisfied smiles hidden by the shadow of an angled stance, Strange then looks back to the other two in dusty-red.

"Your current masters have asked me to see where you both are in your studies. I have recruited Mr. Cranston to assist me in this matter. It's rather simple. You two…catch him," and one scarred finger points towards the dignified gentleman with his tea cup. "You do this within the allotted time, without injuries, and I will report that you have successfully passed my exam. If not, no matter — you simply return to your studies and continue."

He's got that long, harsh face. All those angles, with only the most saving touch of humor in the lines to keep him from looking like Strange's revenant butler. But his smile is positively beatific, as he looks from one to the other. This is going to be fun. For certain 'it is recognized that you have a funny sense of fun' values.

Taking heart in the expression on Lamont's face, Strange continues in his oratory baritone.

"Mr. Cranston is talented in the arts of evasion, more than enough to challenge any journeyman of Kamar-Taj. You will need to either combine your powers or utilize your wits in order to capture him. Are there any questions?"

Silence reigns for a time and then Victoria pipes up, her voice flat. "Why him?"

"Why not him?" The Sorcerer fires back calmly. "Life is not going to grant you familiarity. Mr. Cranston has my permission to use everything shy of injury to avoid you. Life will be patently less kind."

"But sir —"

"If it is a question pertaining to the task itself, please continue. Otherwise, your opinions on my decisions are not necessary." The brunette falls silent, though her lips are a thin line of repressed disagreement. Strange continues to observe her until it's absolutely clear that no further questions are forthcoming from her. He then looks to Aleski, who shrugs.

"It is a test, it will be passed one way or another. The variables change, but in the end, it is a game." Quirking one side of his mouth, Strange replies quietly,

"If that helps you understand it, then yes." The blond's smile fades a little in confidence. Good. "Cranston, any questions?"

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 1

It's supposed to be a subtle fading out, like a Cheshire Cat, just to tease them. But sometimes, it's not a matter of grasping and failing, but of reaching….and succeeding in a way you really didn't want. For every shadow in the room abruptly jumps out of its proper orientation and points directly at Lamont. The effect does not last, beyond the irritated instant it takes him to dismiss it, but he might as well have gotten up and given them a round of jazz hands and softshoe. In order to cover up the flub, he says, affably, "There. A little handicapping, in case they should need it." The apprentices may be fooled, but Strange is sure to realize the comment is the dark avenger equivalent of falling off the table while grooming and then licking your shoulder to show that ou meant to do that.

The Sorcerer's bright eyes flick up and around the room, independent of his stilled frame, and the drawn corner of his mouth remains. Aleski is properly impressed; he turns about in his chair and even flinches at one point when the inked outline of his chair on the floor leaps about. Victoria is quick to draw up twinned mandala-shields, the basic defense of all at Kamar-Taj, and she remains planted even as she quickly turns her head left and right. Everyone eventually looks to Cranston again and…yes, Strange is aware of how mild a showing this display was in comparison to what the journeymen will truly see.

"Thank you, Cranston, your charity is noted. No questions, however?"

"Trigger happy, are we?" Lamont's voice is amused, silky and cold at once. He is going to have fun with this. He is a sadist of the first water, after all, and not all of his enjoyment comes from putting artistic welts on a willing relic. He cocks a grateful eye at his teacher, still sitting calmly in his chair. He has laid aside his teacup.

The neon-bright mandala-shields flicker out of existence, banished, and Victoria stands up as stiffly as she was before, still a display of readied action held tightly in check. Her mouth opens and then closes, her decision to not speak further like as not based on the bland and subtly testing look given to her by the Master of the Sanctum.

"Nothing wrong with being prepared," Strange says mildly as he begins to pace, arms still crossed. "Surprise is potentially lethal to a caster. Still…this is a place of neutrality. Your task will begin in another location, one that you will suss out of your own accord." Aleski and Victoria glance at one another. "Yes, Mr. Cranston will be sent out ahead of you. Before we begin, any questions? Any at all? Because once we begin, I will not lend aid to anyone." He is certain to let his faintly-amaranthine gaze linger on each person in turn.

"Any particularly forbidden act or technique?" There's still that note in his voice, almost amused. Let's see if these wet behind the ears sorcerer pups can catch him on his home turf. His bag of tricks is limited, compared to theirs…..but as the saying goes, "He just has the one song, but boy, can he sing it."

With the appearance of utmost dignity, fully exuding his mantle in all ways shy of having the Eye alit, Strange replies,

"All I ask is no injuries. None, of any kind. Physical, mental, spiritual. Magic itself is without morals. It is in its use that its morality is defined. If it would risk yourself or the others, I ask that you consider it carefully." That's enough to have both young people glancing at each other again and then back to the Sorcerer.

Lamont remains comfortably seated, legs crossed. He's not dressed for serious street running, far from it. But he steeples his fingers, doing nothing at all to conceal the gleam in the gray eyes. These kids are too young to know him by repute, surely….which is all to his advantage.

Given the impression that Lamont is at least in agreement against inflicting injuries, Strange gives the man a short nod, more polite than necessary given status.

"Excellent. Then Cranston, please, exit the Sanctum and go where you will. Do not attempt to contact me… I will find you." Nothing like the seasoning of potentially challenging the prowess of the Sorcerer Supreme to make a journeyman of Kamar-Taj salivate. Aleksi looks properly dubious, frowning. Victoria only has hard eyes for the Shadow; is it a naturally-competitive nature and she's studying the prey before it hares off…or is it a hint of fear? Regardless, the man with the silver temples turns a benign smile upon Lamont. "Shoo," he says quietly, his own frosted-violet eyes a-glitter with that tightly-reined sense of humor.

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 1

This time…..well, the Shadow's magic is what it is. So the visual effect at the second attempt that ends with him slapped by Karma is even more bizarre. It's definitely eerie - a ripple of red light and black shadow, his aura of burnt myrrh and opoponax smoke bleeding into the mundane sensory spectrum for the moment - like holding a cloth with scent before the noses of bloodhounds. He's still got that 'I meant to do that' look on, English sangfroid at its best. Strange will feel it, though. Things are not behaving.

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