1965-03-13 - About That Gris-Gris...
Summary: Lamont gets taken on an excursion to Kamar-Taj and left to the metaphorical sharks while Strange discusses important matters.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
strange lamont 

It takes a few minutes. …well, rather more like close to an hour of Lamont sitting there, abeyante, for the Sorcerer to return from the sojourn into the Mirror Dimension. The delicate twinkling chime announces the reflective crackling of the air about a dozen feet back in the Loft and out steps Strange once more — back in his usual formidable 6'2" physique.

His is composure Supreme, nothing lingering about his mien that might indicate further ruffling of feathers. Nope, all calmed. Whatever he did in that unseeable domain smoothed him back to formality. He steps over to Lamont and stops, looking down upon his apprentice.

"Are you finished?" It's a simple enough question, in the end.

He nods, mutely, looking up from under his brows. There's that light of sheer cussedness in his eyes, but he's got that spark under control. Still quite comfortable - an hour was just a warm up, back when.

Strange can respect a spark of defiance; that, at least, means that the Shadow is acting of his own accord and, frankly, keeps things interesting. Now, the bonfire earlier? No wonder he disappeared into the Mirror Dimension. There's no stone wall out in the boonies of the Himalayan Mountain range located instead in this Sanctum. At Kamar-Taj, Lamont would have been taking a pick-axe to ice-encrusted boulders. In winter. Still…

"Good. On your feet." The Sorcerer turns and walks away across the Loft. "We're going to travel."

He rises with his usual grace. Refrains from bowing or any overt obsequiousness. It could be parsed as mute sarcasm, after all. "Where to?" he asks, with genuine curiosity.

"Kamar-Taj," the Sorcerer announces as he takes a moment to pause before a nearby mirror. An actual mirror, not some gathering of Mystical shards of reality. He adjusts the Master blues here and there, tucking loose fabric away and then plucking at one of the bandings about his wrist as if he were buttoning cuffs. "I'm due to speak with them on an important matter. You're to come along."

A glance across the Loft, somewhere beyond Lamont, and swish — there goes the crimson Cloak, ruffling the Shadow's hair as it flies past. Alighting upon its master's shoulders like a tamed raptor, its twin collars quiver in delight. Ooh, field trip!

Lamont grins at it, without hesitation. Cloak is adorable, it's true. Even if he loves his relic best. Lamont is in his suit, no topcoat. That can wait. There's a nod of assent from him, no further questioning.

"I ask that you keep your silence unless addressed by another Master," Strange adds, giving his fauxpprentice a passing significant glance, " - at least when we're in their presence. Otherwise, you are free to mingle with the other apprentices and journeymen as you so choose, within reason."

And with those guidelines laid down, he steps over to the raised dias before the Window on the Worlds. Circumscribing upon reality itself, the Sorcerer induces reality to bend to his whims. The crackling Gate opens and on the other side? The short entryway to the main courtyard of the fabled city, with its jacaranda tree budding its leaves in readiness for spring. The sudden sparkling is enough to draw at least one person's attention, a nearby Journeyman speaking to an Acolyte in his white outfit, and both pause in their conversation to stare.

"Oh, I — Master Strange, monsieur, hello," the Journeyman manages to stutter, looking to Lamont with equal surprise in expression. The male Acolyte keeps his silence, probably awed into it.

"Journeyman Trefoyte, hello. Kindly fetch me Master Hamir to the tea room? I have something to discuss with him," the Sorcerer replies.

"Absolutely, monsieur, right away," and with that, both young men scatter to the winds to locate the Master in question. Strange looks over at Lamont with a smug little grin. Ah, power. Sometimes, it's enjoyable.

He has been there before, being healed. But never just as himself….nor yet in tow of the Sorcerer Supreme. Lamont has his best pokerface on. "Understood," he says, calmly.


|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 4


Having allowed his ego to twitch a tail and purr, the Sorcerer stuffs it back into its comfy little mental corner as he steps down into the courtyard proper. The small group of Apprentices running what appear to be martial arts drills in one corner pauses in their motions once the Journeyman realizes who's present. All in unison, they turn and execute a bow. Strange simply nods in their direction, a twinkle of pride to be found in his eyes. After all, this is his Alma Mater, in a way.

Another small group of Journeymen are discussing a scroll over by the jacaranda tree. One glances up and then slaps the arm of their nearby friend, who frowns before following the other's gaze. All eventually look over and offer various forms of honor, from bows to nods. Returning their attention with another curt nod, the Sorcerer completes his brisk crossing of the open are and continues on into the main interior of Kamar-Taj's cluster of buildings. Here, knowledge is venerated, the discovery of the Mystic Arts a thing of beauty, and grey incense mingles with the brisk air of the high mountains in every breath. In a way, it seems that Strange is…perfectly at home here. He sheds a modicum of formality in how he greets another Master in passing, with a fond jibe at some failed past attempt. The woman throws it right back and they continue onwards, but not after Lamont gets an intrigued once-over from the blonde. Their travels take them down the hallway until it opens up along the left-hand side, into a room meant for receiving guests, given the spread of pillowed short-chairs and tea set already standing upon a table.

He's not disappearing in the sense of consciously exerting his powers. But Lamont is doing that trick where he all but fades out, as if he really were Strange's shadow. The Sorcerer Supreme - well, there's nowhere else so cognizant of the role. Lapsing back into his coolest reserve, the gray eyes bright, curious. The contrast between this and his own reception at Shambhala. Well, it's the difference between being a proud graduate of Princeton and Columbia….or being released from reform school, isn't it?

The younger members of faculty, as it were, will be easily enough fooled into thinking that perhaps the Sorcerer's shadow has some sentience. Maybe it's the man's aura itself doing that curious look-about? The Masters are more jaded, in turn, and so far, only the blonde having seen clearly through Lamont's little trick.

Strange pauses centrally within the room and considers its various points of decor, ranging from relics of ancient Phoenicia to modern trappings of Napalese ilk, and looks back at his apprentice.

"Are you aware of what you're doing right now?" Amusement lurks beneath the seriousness of his words, accompanied by a mild rise of dark brows.

"Yes," Lamont returns, calmly, though by his tone he's asking permission for it. "Shall I stop?" Not the needling challenge of before, but genuinely wanting to know.

"I'm not concerned if you continue. You may need to be ready to explain yourself to the Masters, however, if they notice further. Master Hayden — that was the woman I spoke to — seemed interested in it."

Strange glances over as a shorter, more wizened Master enters the tea room suddenly, accompanied by the Journeyman Trefoyte, he of alacrity and awe. "Ah, Master Hamir," and there's a genuine smile from the Sorcerer that takes years from his face. Ah-hah, proof that he does like people beyond the Sanctum proper!

"Sorcerer Supreme, be welcome. And you, Apprentice Cranston." The dark eyes take in the Shadow as a whole, clear in a way that might cause squirming in those unprepared; it's probably not too unlike the attention given by Shambala's Abbess. "Tea?"

"Allow me." Strange begins the hallowed process of preparing the drinks. Master Hamir makes his way to a seat and settles into it with a relieved sigh. "Cranston, if you would go with Journeyman Trefoyte, please. I will fetch you when the time comes." Strange says this even as he's pouring tea for Master Hamir, not looking away from his task at hand. The Journeyman executes a polite bow to the Sorcerer and then gestures for Lamont to follow him back out of the room and out into the hallway proper, back towards the courtyard.

Lamont bows, mutely, in response to the greeting, face like a sphinx's under the Master's scrutiny. Then he nods, a crisp motion, and obediently follows the indicated journeyman. No longer fading, as it were, but with his usual silent circumspection.

There's no real telling what the two get to talking about, Strange and Hamir, for they don't begin to speak until long after the footsteps of the departing students have faded. Journeyman Trefoyte risks a glance over at Lamont, his hazel eyes scrutinizing as best they can before he speaks.

"You are the Sorcerer's Apprentice then?" There's a frosting of a French accent, but not Parisian, not so refined, more like Quebecois. "I expected you to be wearing the reds, as I do." How refreshing, at least the young man is honest.

His lips part, and Lamont hesitates on that for a moment, visibly searching for the best way to phrase it. "Ahhh," he says, finally. "Not in the most classical sense. I was a practitioner in another school already. I am most fortunate to have had some of his tutelage. But I am not formally apprenticed to him, in the lineage of Kamar-Taj. Just a student he deigns to correct." Which might be a hint - less reward than keeping an eye on someone else's magical problem child. Not like his aura doesn't make clear at least some of it.

Trefoyte notes the pause and raises his brows. His are dark nearing red, lighter than his deeply-auburn hair that also flirts with enough melanin to count as brown itself. A red fox pelt in fall's shadow may be the most apt description in turn.

"Another school? Which?" At least he also has the manners to not sniff after that hint. Another student of Kamar-Taj might do so. They emerge back into the wane sunlight of the courtyard and Trefoyte leads him off to one side, to a section of wall where it seems the students take a sit-rest when not deeply involved in their various studies. The Journeyman sits, all the better to observe his classmates in passing.

"Shambhala," he says, softly. Lamont seats himself by Trefoyte, turning his gaze to the classmates. What might he have been in this life if he'd come here early enough? Sought beyond the stews of Alexandria and Shanghai in the flesh, not just stumbling about in the astral, high out of his mind. It's enough to bring a kind of sober wonder to his face.

"Oh, Shambhala. Oui, I know of this place. It is beyond our borders, in the high mountains and farther still." Trefoyte nods, simply absorbing the information for now, without rancor or judgment. "What do you study with Master Strange? What is your vocation?"

Across the way, by the jacaranda tree, one set of particularly glass-green eyes lingers on the Shadow. Guess who.

"I can't believe he's even here," Victoria hisses at Aleski. She's absolutely…not incensed, but more than annoyed in passing. How dare.

The Scandinavian Journeyman doesn't look up from reading through his book and bites at his apple again, commenting around his mouthful, "One day, you are going to get into trouble over this."

"Basic technique, really, at this point," Lamont doesn't sound embarrassed by it. He knows who and what he is, and that's a lot of squandered potential compared to the bright young minds here. "Some sparring. Expanding my own flexibility in the magical sense. I….." How to explain what he's sentenced to be. "I have a lot to work off, and a narrow path to follow to do it. The Doctor is kind enough to offer advice and help." If he's noted her, it hasn't showed. It's as if the apprentices in front of him don't wholly register, not with the temptation of reverie before him.


|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 13


"Ah, I see. You have…a debt of sorts, if I am hearing correctly. You are working it off to the Sorcerer Supreme himself? Woof." And Trefoyte shakes his head, looking away momentarily across the courtyard. His eyes linger on the group of white-vested acolytes, back at their practiced motions in perfect unison. "I do not envy you."

Victoria continues to glare from across the way, attempting to burn a hole between Lamont's eyes by will alone. "He doesn't deserve what he has."

"Victoria, you are being unkind, stop," Aleski replies, pulling his attention from the book to frown at her. He gestures at her with his apple. "If you think this will earn you a place by his side, you are wrong."

"What, I can't complain now? You're not my master," the young woman shoots back, kicking her heel into the cement basing around the mature tree.

"Not to the Sorcerer himself. To karma, via the Masters of Shambhala." Which is even worse, "Master Strange has been kind enough to offer some guidance to help keep me on the right path as I do. I'm lucky to have the help." He is genuinely grateful, by the way his expression softens.

The weight of that regard is enough for Lamont to finally turn and peer at Victoria, recognition dawning. He lifts a hand and waves a greeting. He's not the one holding a grudge.

"Oui, I concur. Many would be in your place, if they could do so. I can imagine that Master Strange holds you to an impossible standard," and with that, Trefoyte laughs, a friendly and mellow sound. "I hear stories from the other Masters that he was a terror when he was a student here. Mais…I should not gossip, it is gauche of me." Still, the way his hazel eyes slide sideways to rest on Lamont insinuates that if he were to ask, the journeyman might tell him more.

The wave given to Victoria? Returned by a twiddle of fingers from where they rest on her folded arm, half-effort at best. Aleski gives the far more sociable wave with the hand holding his apple and goes back to reading.

"He is not so bad when he is not attempting to scare us witless." A snort is proof that Aleski, at least, can forgive himself and even laugh about what happened during that test a few weeks back. Victoria just huffs.

There's that rueful look again. "No," he says, mildly, "He understands my limitations," Delivered with a grin. "Have you now? I know of his previous profession, and it is one that breeds arrogance. Either one lives up to such pride, or it gets beaten down."

He doesn't persist in seeking attention from the pair, turning back to Trefoyte. "I've seen evidence of such pride, but he seems to live up it it….and as far as I can tell, the gods concur. If you can walk the walk, you can talk the talk."

"Walk the walk and talk the talk?" It takes the Journeyman a moment of translation in his own mind before he suddenly inhales and nods again. "Oui, he has the strut of the roost, this is true. His own pride…the Masters were beside themselves time and time again, but his own Master?"

Here, Trefoyte's expression darkens in a mingling of anger and sorrow. "Maybe you would know his name, maybe you would not. He is…«anatheme»." The word comes in French. "He would not be welcome here in Kamar-Taj, I think. Still…he was patient with Master Strange, when he was learning. I hear tales from Master Wong, our librarian, that Master Strange never asked for books. He simply took them and returned them in his own good time." The Journeyman chuckles. "«Vorace». Like the wolves of the north."

That makes Lamont blink. How has he literally never considered who Strange's master might have been. Stephen didn't spring up out of the ground like a mushroom. "What….what name is that?" he asks, softly. Less willing that this question should be heard.

"He has not told you?" This gives Trefoyte a reason to pause and look Lamont dead in the face. He's not disbelieving of the Shadow, simply more amazed that this isn't well-known information. "«The city does keep its secrets…»" This thought in French is more of a murmur to himself and then he shuffles in his seat, uncertainty found in the action. "I am not certain that it is my place to tell, but perhaps you can have a talk of your own about it once you know."

Those rich hazel eyes flick back to Lamont again. "Karl Mordo. He held a place of power elsewhere in the world, in…I do not remember." A shrug by way of apology. "He was Master Mordo here, a pupil of the Ancient One. Surely you know of the Ancient One?"

"That name I have heard," Lamont concedes. The gray eyes have gone keen, interested. "The head of Kamar-Taj, if I recall correctly?" Dish, Tre, dish.

Uh oh, Lamont has found the font of Kamar-Taj-ian gossip and tapped it. Trefoyte's eyes light up the slightest.

"Good. If you did not, I would call your teaching suspect." He laughs to lighten the prod. "Then you know that the Ancient One was once Sorcerer Supreme. They took Master Mordo under their wing because they saw potential. He was stubborn, as your Master Strange was, and prideful. A good teacher for one of the same because of how they butted heads, as the Americans say. Like wild sheep." His fists crack together lightly as illustration.

"I am not sure of what led Master Mordo astray." His voice drops quieter. "The Masters say it was jealousy, a thing to be avoided here, but…again, I do not know. I am not a Master, after all. I am but a Journeyman." His vest gets a pluck. "I also do not know that your Master Strange did. Maybe he renounced Master Mordo, maybe not. Still. A question for him, I think."

He looks like the cat that just got let into the milkbottling factory. "Jealousy is so often the downfall of magicians," Lamont says, with evident sympathy. "And the lust for power." Because he wouldn't know aaaaaaanything about that, would he?

"That may have been part of it as well. You should ask him. It seems an innocent enough line in inquiry," and Trefoyte shrugs. Across the courtyard, the group of white-clad apprentices finish up their lessons and the Journeyman watches as the other rust-red figure dismisses them. They scatter slowly, as a flock of pigeons might after the last bit of crumbs scattered about, and this other Journeyman makes his way over, giving Trefoyte a merry wave. "Hey, Volpett!"

"Trefoyte." The man's voice is deeper, his accent far more neutral in turn, not indicative yet of any nationality. He's a good towering 6' at least, thin for his build, and he stops shy of Lamont, looking at him with clear brown eyes. "A guest?"

"Oui, the apprentice of Master Strange." That encourages a sudden laugh from Volpett and white teeth flash.

"I've heard of you, yes. Only good things, I promise." The glitter of his eyes speaks otherwise; take a guess as to the source. "What's Trefoyte telling you now, about the shenanigans of Master Strange here? He's legendary."

"Mais non, Volpett, you are ruining my fun! Don't give it all away." Still, the red-head doesn't seem too mad, sporting a sharp grin in turn.

"Student," Lamont hastens to correct. "I'm….in sort of an ambiguous position, one might say. Formally a practitioner of another school and lineage, but Master Strange has been generous enough to give me guidance, lessons," he says, rising to offer his hand.

Volpett takes the Shadow's hand within his own and shakes it firmly.

"Nice to meet you. Don't let Trefoyte here fool you, he has his own agendas around here. We call him the French Fox." The red-head looks wounded before he laughs, unable to keep up the guise.

"Allow me my side-hobbies, Volpett." Those sly hazel eyes slip back to Lamont. "After all, we may not see this one again. Master Strange might not allow him to visit after he asks whatever questions he will." Oh yes, the Journeyman is certain that, eventually, the Shadow will ask after Mordo. It seems every practitioner requires a heavy lean towards curiosity. "Oh, but, this one time…" Trefoyte glances around, making certain that no one wearing the Master blues is anywhere nearby, before he continues. "Your Master Strange was so very irritated at Master Mordo that he cursed the bottom of Mordo's boots with a slipping spell. It was slow to enact, so a stumble became a slip became sliding on ice. I believe when Master Mordo entered the library to find Master Strange and ask, he did so at such a speed that he slid into one of the aisles like a greased pig and took out the entire section. Pages, my friend, fluttering everywhere, like so many feathers from a burst pillow. Master Strange apparently had to dive beneath his study desk to finish out laughing before emerging again."

"You are aware you're giving me fuel to twit him with later?" Lamont observes, though he's trying to wear an innocent expression. It doesn't sit well there. Not with that sly gleam in the pale eyes. There's something charming about it - the confidence in magic, their innocence. A faint hint of envy….what would it have been like to come to magic this way?

"Mais oui," replies Trefoyte to the Shadow, still looking rather pleased with himself. Volpett simply snorts and folds his arms, shaking his head so his tightly-braided locks glitter and click together as beads collide.

"Tell him about the gris-gris," says the taller Journeyman and the red-head laughs again, the sound traveling out into the courtyard proper now. Still seated on the jacaranda tree's concrete holding barrier, Victoria looks no more pleased than five minutes ago. The Resting Bitch Face is strong with this one.

"Oh no, the gris-gris!!!! I do not precisely what led to this, but I have heard it said that Master Mordo told Master Strange that he was barking out his spells like a love-sick dog in heat. In return, Master Strange researched a charm that would serve as silent revenge. Well, next they went out into the city proper, to Kathmandu? From all the alleyways and all the homes streamed so very many dogs and all — all — " he emphasizes, " — attempted to hump Master Mordo's legs." This is apparently enough to bring Trefoyte to amused tears and even as he takes a full breath, he wipes at his eye. "Oh, mon Dieu, the audacity. I am certain Master Strange stood there and felt so smug."

Oh, now this is gold. Lamont's lips are white with being pinched between his teeth, but that rare dimple is putting in an appearance anyhow. His eyes are positively glittering, and he looks like nothing so much as the Coyote sure that he's finally got the Road Runner in his sights. "You are aware," he says, sweetly, "That you are undermining my proper respect and reverence for my teacher?" In on the joke, clearly.

"Trefoyte would try something like that," Volpett is quick to say, giving the unrepentant red-head a knowing look.

"Not at all, mon ami! I am merely educating you as to lesser known stories of his history. You are tutoring under the Sorcerer Supreme himself. He is human, though, in the end, not all monumental power and once, he was a student too." Taking a moment to indulge in a stretch with arms lifted straight alongside his ears, Trefoyte then leans his head to one side until the sharp crack of popping vertebrae are heard. "Ah, much better. Too much sitting today, I think."

"You are due for your lessons soon here, I believe?" This gets Volpett a flat look.

"You are not my Master, Volpett. I am assuring that he gets a proper welcome to Kamar-Taj. Master Hayden knows he is present." The other Journeyman lifts hands up, palms out, silently assenting to quit the line of inquiry. Trefoyte's sly hazel eyes slide back to Lamont again. "I have told you a few stories, no? Is there something you want to hear about further?"

"He thinks he knows everything," Volpett quips in a loud stage-whisper and deflects a thrown punch at his gut with a rolling laugh or two.

He's quiet, hands resting on his knees, out of place in his Western style suit. Lamont's expression has turned meditative. "Well, he does have the pointiest possible hat, so to speak. It has been years since I was here - ten or so, I think," He inclines hishead. "Yes. Master Strange sent me along, while he discusses things. And…..his old profession was one to inspire arrogance. How did he become Sorcerer Supreme, do you know?"

That particular question proves to draw a light veil of sobriety around their small grouping. Volpett continues looking at Trefoyte, as if seeing if he can successfully predict what his fellow Journeyman will say or do. Trefoyte runs his tongue along his front teeth with mouth shut and finally releases the suction with a small tack of sound.

"I have heard stories, from others, about how he managed such a thing. What I can tell you is that the oldest stories say that the gods themselves pick the one to hold the position. Whether that is true or not may depend on one's beliefs themselves. Here?" He gestures to all within the courtyard. "While we may have our individual beliefs, one cannot dismiss gods if one believes in magic." He takes a moment to draw up a small and glittering oculus with a faint frown of effort. It disappears once he stops concentrating and shrugs.

"I heard he gained his immortality by beating Death herself," Volpett offers, looking somewhat guilty at the admission. Trefoyte points at him, eyebrows raised high.

"This, I have not heard. What?!"

"I do not dismiss the gods. I have met a few, in my time," Lamont's voice is cool, a little distant. They weren't pleasant encounters - Kali's cultists are no laughing matter. "But I have not come face to face with Death herself." Not like that, anyway.

Volpett nods at Lamont, silently in agreement; he has also not come to meet Death, not even close or in passing.

"I'm guessing at best, Trefoyte, from what I've heard and read," he says quietly, making Trefoyte let out a small sound of disappointment. "I was in the Bar With No Doors one time, on an errand for Master Bartley, when I overheard two beings in scaled armor there talking. One had the head of a bull, the other had the head of a horse, but I heard them mention the 'Sorcerer Supreme' and how they 'could not understand why he was half-marked by Her'. He is marked by gods, yes, but who else could they have been talking about?"

Trefoyte snorts and waves a hand. "You are making a far-reaching logical jump, mon ami. They could have been speaking of any goddess."

Volpett rolls his eyes. "Last time I tell a story around here…"

"Non, non, it was good. I shall…how do the Americans say it…snoop around. Be a gum-shoe. Who knows, your seed may bear some fruit!" The red-head nods.

He tilts his head, bird-like. "Is that wise?" he asks, voice mild as milk. "To go looking into the secrets of the Masters?" Ask him about the time he nearly blundered into the guardian walls of Shambhala, on the astral plane. Then, as if diverting the subject, "…..what sort of tests must one pass to become a Master here?"

"Ehn…" There's that dismissive hand-wave again from Trefoyte. "Master Wong says that no knowledge is forbidden, only certain practices. I am doing nothing but collecting knowledge."

Volpett sighs and laughs lightly. "You keep telling yourself that, you nosy little weasel." He laughs again, more loudly, as the other Journeyman subtly flips him off. "As to becoming a Master, that takes many, many years of study and application of the Arts. You must learn the basics, such as drawing up a Gate upon reality, conjuring weaponry, being able to safely separate your Astral form from your physical form… There are many tests, some of finesse, others of endurance. You must show the ability to be able to teach without encouraging excess risk or putting your students in danger." Trefoyte rolls his eyes at this; someone didn't get that memo once, apparently. "I personally think it's when you require access to the Mirror Dimension itself — when your spellcraft becomes so advanced that you may pose a danger to the world around you when you practice."

Trefoyte points at his fellow Journeyman and nods. "When you risk immolating the room around you because you sneeze, that is necessary."

"That's a new word, Trefoyte, immolating; well done."

"Merci, you pompous windbag."

Lamont can't help but laugh. A little envy in his voice - his schooling was such a contrast. Such a grim affair. "There is no age limit at which one might apply?" he asks, suddenly. It's a thought, even if it's one banished with the briefest application of reason. HE has not only age against him, but karma, and the binding of a relic. A thought - here's a refuge for Lindon, if the very worst happens. Few places are less assailable, magically.

"No age limit, no. There are a few Masters who count less than forty years of age. His Master, Hayden," and Volpett nods to Trefoyte. "She's one of the youngest in centuries."

"But am I hearing correctly? You want to become a Master here…?" Ooh, something new for the red-head to ferret out. He's giving Lamont an appraising look. "You would have to pass the exams in Apprenticeship first, to become a Journeyman. Then you could attempt to pass the exams to become a Master. Though…this is a challenge, I assure you."

"What he's trying to say is that at least half of the exams aren't an exam," Volpett explains. "The other Masters, maybe even the Sorcerer Supreme himself, keep tallies. They weigh your actions in times of stress, even in every-day interactions."

Lamont shakes his head. "No. I was merely curious. I am….not on a path to take me to that goal. Not in this life." He sounds resigned, but not bitter about it. "I'm not even really an apprentice as it is reckoned here, and I have other commitments."

"Not in this life…? Mon ami, you have your secrets, don't you…?" Oh, but now Lamont is friend, since he's made an allusion to some mysterious attribute of himself.

"Trefoyte, you're becoming predictable." The sudden burst of giggling nearby them makes both Journeymen abruptly shift attention. Is that…?

Oh gods below, that's the Cloak of Levitation flitting about overtop the heads of a gaggle of younglings, those talented enough to be recognized and dedicated in their learning. They too wear the Apprentice whites, but fitted to their smaller frames, the oldest no more than adolescent at best and the youngest likely around eight years of age.

"I don't know if I would call that a responsible relic," Trefoyte opines, raising an eyebrow counter to his half-agape mouth.

"I've heard that it will snap you like a locker-room towel if you try and touch it without permission." Volpett, on this count? — is entirely correct.

"It does not like unwarranted familiarity," Lamont's eyes are twinkling again. "Or so I've observed." He slants an amused look at Tref. "When you are bored of an evening, look up the Living Shadow in the records. I know the name appears here, even if it's most often a role taken by the students of Shambhala." A wilder, more remote, and sometimes even stranger school of the occult, that one.

"The Living Shadow. I will look this up." Ooh, a task not assigned by his Master! Done. Trefoyte seems pleased to have some new lure to chase and Volpett gives Lamont a small smile, but keeps his peace. It seems he might be more familiar with the Shadow in turn and perhaps keeping this nugget of information all to himself.

"Do you think it has a mind of its own? Or that is just complicated magic?" The red-head muses aloud as the relic continues to swirl about, being a terrible distraction to most of the courtyard proper.

"I wonder if it snuck away because whatever his Master was talking about was talking about was boring." The Journeyman glances to Trefoyte as he chuckles.

"Non, relics do not get bored. That one? It has a sense of humor. I visited it once, in the New York Sanctum, when I was younger. I tapped on the glass and it tapped back."

"I wondered whose fingerprints those were." The baritone is deeply amused and Trefoyte? He jumps up with alacrity and turns about on his heels, bumping off of Volpett in the process. WHOA. When did the Sorcerer Supreme show up?! There he is, leaning on the stone wall on the other open side of Lamont, with arms folded lightly and the smuggest smile on his face. He must have just stepped out from the Mirror Dimension proper. …oh gods below, how long was he listening in for?!?!

Lamont puts on his very best pokerface. Which, of course, is a good indication that even he was startled. "Master," he says, pleasantly, rising from his seat. Old habits die hard. "And it very definitely has a mind of its own," he adds.

Count Strange pleased as pie for that pokerface. He's been Lamont's pseudo-Master for long enough to recognize its meaning and his eyes narrow the slightest to accompany that silver-foxy smile of his.

"M-Master Strange, monsieur, we were just — " Trefote is interrupted by the man himself.

"Entertaining Cranston while I spoke with Master Hamir. I appreciate this. Journeyman Volpett, good to see you again as well." Volpett gives a perfectly silent and executed half-bow of utter respect. He's been well-schooled in this, apparently. Strange's attention shift now to Lamont as he too straightens into straight-spined attention, his arms still lightly folded. Even without the Master-blues of Kamar-Taj, he would never be mistaken for anything but someone in charge. "We're going back to the Sanctum now, Cranston." At some silent beckon, the Cloak departs from its giggling crowd and whisks over, alighting upon the man's shoulders again. "Gentlemen," and with that, the Sorcerer Supreme walks away, headed back over to the entrance hallway that they arrived in initially. It seems he assumes that Lamont is going to follow like the world's most karmically-skewed duckling.

Trefoyte gives the man an awed stare and Volpett simply laughs, still merry despite being startled. "Good luck," he says to Lamont, offering a hand to shake.

Of course he is. A bow of thanks to the journeymen who've kept him company this while. He doesn't hesitate to shake Volpett's hand, and then turns to follow his teacher. He's hardly going to deny Strange's orders, not without excellent reason.

The two Journeymen watch Lamont make his way across the courtyard and Trefoyte nods to himself.

"I like him." His comment is met with a snort.

"You think he's another puzzle to solve." Volpett gets a pop in the arm and the red-head turns to make his way back into the main section of Kamar-Taj. "I'm not wrong." Trefoyte tells him to do something to his mother in French and this just makes the bead-wearing Journeyman laugh.

In the short entrance hall, Strange turns and gives his fauxpprentice a half-smile. "I presume they entertained you?" His tone is only too knowing.

He gets that almost Roman profile, the sphinxish little smile. "They were most kind," he says, in that 'butter wouldn't melt in his mouth' voice. "Quite happy to regale me with tales of your own time as a student. You've made quite an impression on the subsequent generations."

Strange's teeth flash like a shark's in the shadow of a reef wreck. His attention slides to opening a Gate upon the Loft of the Sanctum and through he steps, leaving the high altitude of the hidden city for the familiar warmth of the third floor.

"I certainly hope that I did — and I don't believe they even told you the best stories," he adds, looking over his shoulder at Lamont far too knowingly. "The gris-gris was spectacular though. I'm even proud of that one." Says the man whose pride is worn as an armor.

Almost demure, which is kind of a funny expression for that face. Lamont's got that look of hooded amusement "I'm sure they didn't dare," he agrees, with laughter in his voice. "You must've been hell on wheels when you were here." A pause, and his voice is more serious. "And perhaps being Mordo's student makes you that much more suitable as a teacher for me…"

"Yes…" Strange's jaw visibly tightens even as he turns away from Lamont again. The concession doesn't sound particularly happy, especially in how he elongates the first consonant on it. "If anything, it makes me particularly cognizant of slips in morality and…since you deserve clarity in the matter, I have been betrayed by him before. I have a knee-jerk reaction to such behavior." The air around him ripples visibly before settling, though the scent of burnt petrichor lingers until incense smooths over it again.

Clearly, he's struck on a tender point. But he's no teenager, to be cowed by a hint of temper. "Precisely," he says, softly. "I won't ask the details. But perversely, it is reassuring. If you've dealt with a student of Kamar-Taj gone bad, I'll be small change by comparison."

The Cloak is dismissed, lifting silently from the man and wifting away across the Loft to its stand by the master bedroom doors. Strange walks over to the statues of the felines, one on each side of the raised dias beneath the Window on the World, and pets the smoothly-carven head absently. Maybe the surface is so very soft because of the many hands passing over it through the long years of the Sanctum's existence.

"He was a personal student of the Ancient One," says Strange quietly. As if that should make some difference, but in a way, it does. "Of the Sorcerer Supreme, at the time. The Ancient One thought that he could remain above his demons." The look that Strange turns on Lamont now could be harrowing. "I expect you to do so."

Lamont meets his gaze levelly. Weary, a little sad, but with that something behind it. "I have no choice," he says, voice light, light as he can make it. "For this life and the next to come, I am what I am…."

"I can ask no more of you than for you to do your utmost best, Cranston, no matter what your karmic burden may be. I accepted it when I accepted you." Strange's thumb slides up the bridge of the statue's leonine nose and across the rounding of one ear as he continues to look at Lamont. "I will test you. Again and again, until I am certain, and then? I will test you more. Still…"

Maybe the ghost of a smile is succor after a statement like that. "I have the distinct suspicion that you'll continue to be an apt pupil."

That smile is lopsided, a hint of the old aviator's arrogance. "May I continue to live up to your expectations," he says. It has the air of a prayer, even if it's delivered cheerfully enough. "And my best is what I will do."

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