1965-03-14 - Killing the Gossip Column
Summary: Strange has to pick up an erstwhile relic from Kamar-Taj and takes Wanda along. She meets the Font of Gossip at the fabled city, to much amusement all around.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
wanda strange 

Spring's trying, it really is, here in New York City. The wind's been a little bit warmer and the daffodils are throwing out green fronds in anticipation of some sunshine — eventually. Elsewhere?

Strange knows that the jacaranda tree in the courtyard of Kamar-Taj may be thinking about sprouting its own leaves. He adjusts the tunic of his Master-blues once more and brushes palms lightly down his front, ridding himself of any dust — though as if he would let himself get dusty without good reason. A final shift of belts about his waist and the reflection of himself in the master bedroom mirror looks proper.

"Ready?" Mild excitement is betrayed by the lightness of his tone and twinkle in his eyes as he turns towards Wanda once more.

Not trying hard enough. Grey skies, muddy slurries of slush, and not much in the way of warmth chase around the occasional fool blossom showing its buttercup head. Those tweaked blooms freeze whenever the temperature drops, and no, Wanda is not relieving herself of her heavier burgundy leather coat and black gloves for any power less than a space heater with a bucket of honey bubbling happily away in front of it.

Right now, she's munching on the slice of an orange and dourly contemplating dour things, which means cleaning. Cleaning something delicate, made of wood, with a cloth and oil. That's simply necessary for her hair stick, the ruby on the end flashing and glinting. She finishes up while loitering by the door, ever ready to run away on an adventure, orange tucked into her cheek, and call her a chipmunk and die a painful, painful death. "Last time I went up there, I dressed in yellow like a monk. Am I to wear yellow again? I am not a monk or a nun or a master." Not quite true. Her art form has heavily refined itself.

"No, you are who you are. You don't need to change at all," Strange replies as he walks over and by her — but pauses to plant a firm kiss on her forehead, right where those dark curls begin their growth, his hand cupping her jaw in passing. "No yellow."

Out into the Loft he goes, headed for the raised platform beneath the stylized Anomaly Rue window that lets in the grey light of the day. From behind whisks the crimson Cloak, clasping to his shoulders and twiddling the point of a collar in his ear briefly, as if reprimanding him for even considering that it should not come along. "ACK — stop that," the Sorcerer grumbles, tucking chin and tweaking the collar back. "You were invited, stop being ridiculous." Happy flitter of collars. With an offered hand outstretched to Wanda, he glances back at her, unable to keep that boyish grin from his face. Someone's…probably pretty proud to be showing her this world — his world, where he discovered his true calling amidst the wreckage of a collapsed future.

The Gate opens up upon the short entrance hallway and beyond, where it ends, the courtyard of Kamar-Taj opens up. The skies above are mostly clear and already the chill is setting it. It's early evening, with the sun having disappeared beyond the mountain ranges, and long are the shadows. No one is out practicing their weaponry or studying beneath the jacaranda tree. It's past dinner time and the warm glow of the inside lights are thrown across the bricked stones below, worn smooth from centuries of booted feet.

Yellow, at least buttercup, is not really Wanda's colour anyways. Amber skin does not cover the sallow shades well, for all her natural hair colour would warm to the shade. Either way, she swallows the slice of orange to the kiss planted on her head. Citrus delights the senses, infusing her palate with a certain summery richness not hers otherwise to bear.

With Strange leading the way, his crimson shadow follows a few steps behind. The branching, leaded panes arch and curve in their spectacular glory overhead, a sight that never ceases to arrest her heart a little. That she stands on the inside is remarkable, since enough people can admire the look out. But all said, she is a silent spectre. "Why would it not be welcome?" The relic is an assumed pass and parcel of being the Supreme Sorcerer of Sorcery Stuff. It should always be free to throw itself into the mix.

As the firefly sparks circle in furious rotation, she holds her thoughts and tongue. An appearance of the exotic East cannot ever be underappreciated. After all she lived there… just not in style. Not like this, where the mountains and the sky meet in a kiss. She has more she could say, really, about rough times and entitlement, but not to Strange. Now, Victoria? Aussie business is best settled by a fist and a smirk. Into the timeless world they go, and she steps in after him, her clothes so dark and spare compared to some. And flashy; the cuts are different from draping robes.

"It was being a distraction last I visited," Strange explains to Wanda as they step into the twilit courtyard. "It'll behave this time around — won't you?" His eyes slide to one of the collars that wiggles like an unrepentant dog's tail. "Of course." Rueful amusement there.

From one of the many entrances to the courtyard proper, a teenaged female wearing the chalky-white of Apprenticeship to the hidden city appears, carefully managing an armful of yellowed scrolls. The Sorcerer pauses as she catches sight of them both and…frankly, gapes. One scroll falls from her arms to hit the cobbled ground, plop.

"Sir!" she finally squeaks, cheeks blotchy with nerves.

"Yes, me. Hurry along, there's nothing to be concerned about. Simply a friendly visit," he reassures the young one as best he can, trying hard not to laugh. She stoops and gathers up the scroll quickly before hurrying on, their once-leveled gathering all at odds now, like a mismatched bundling of sticks. "Yes, well." Strange clears his throat and tries to look humble as he glances at Wanda. "My reputation preceeds me."

|ROLL| Wanda +rolls 1d20 for: 19

A distraction, as it were. That much raises her eyebrows, though she does not comment. Only the mild tweak of fabric to allow herself the privilege, or the right, of enjoying the Cloak's mischief and company. Be a showoff? Never. Her hands are occupied, and she slips the hair stick into her bound locks and the cloth into her pocket, though the telltale scent of orange still rides on the air. Dark rose, attar, and that one happy note do not an easy blend make, especially with the chypre base sometimes known to swirl around her.

Rarely do witches congregate in any sort of super-coven, though her people and her mistress surely did. Always those gatherings in their own jewel setting warrant sliding out of sight, standing to the wayside, the better not to draw attention. Stealth is an artform for a mystic, especially one who wears red, but so be it. Her veiled expression conveys no amusement, no doubt, naught other than sombre appreciation for her surroundings. As one does in Tibet or Nepal, or the line where they both merge in contested territory under the Chinese banner.

"Do you wish to live here and teach, not stay in New York?" An idle question to Strange, really.

The humming sigh is familiar enough. "To teach? No. I have no interest in leading repetitions of mudras or monitoring journeymen to make certain no one accidentally opens a rift into one of the dark pockets of the moon. To live here….?" Strange looks up at the clouds, shreds that pick up the dying light in ephemeral pinks and golds, refracting at the edges in pale rainbows as ice builds within them. "Sometimes. But then I remember that home is where the heart is, so…" He reaches out to snag one of her hands and squeezes it. "It wouldn't matter where we lived as long as you were there." There's that fond smile, briefly removing him of his formality. "Still, the New York Sanctum needs someone to mind it and that is my assignment." A shrug of acceptance. "It's grown on me over the years."

Even as they continue on and into one of the larger hallways, leading into the main building proper, a voice hails them from farther down the way. Strange's steps slow as the dark-haired Journeywoman walks towards them briskly, a broad smile on her face.

"Sorcerer Supreme, sir." She has the natural lisp that comes of English not being her first language; her lineage speaks to Catalan or perhaps Andalusia. Her steps slow as well as she notes Wanda's presence and she pauses at a respectful distance, offering a deep bow of respect to them both with hands pressed before her sternum. "And Mistress, be welcome. Master B'sso is unfortunately unable to receive you at this time, so it falls to me. Please, follow me." Her warm brown eyes consider the Witch yet again even as she stands upright once more and turns, leading the way onwards. It seems the intent is to bring them to the main reception room, where Strange once stood and learned that he was indeed looking at the world through a keyhole.

The good doctor, separated from society to live among the ascetics, holds a certain unbelievable quality. Some choose to leave the world at arm's length and others most certainly do not, not the least because they would never thrive in so alien or foreign an environment. "We grow where we are happy." It is truth, if simplified. Tibetan here is probably well and best understood, as opposed to English, but better to let the usual folks in such a spot not know she comprehends them better than she would on the streets of London or Cape Town.

Those elegant halls constructed in a manner so differently from the steel and concrete lines of the urban American melting pot. Curves here, for one, mysterious and layered stupas that originate from another frame of mind all the same. Her hands remain visibly in sight, not that it means much here, and never, ever with her. Under the Vishanti's watch, she is the embodiment of danger; a reality warp walking, no? It's easy to forget the jacaranda trees and towers of fragrant wood, following after Strange. This is his world, his life. She has to measure it all in, her finger slipping around the ring hidden on her finger. No, she's not announcing that she is the personal ring bearer. Word might get back to Sauron Mordo.

Strange gives Wanda a secretive little smile once the Journeymwoman's back is completely turned; across the soulbond flies, She's enamored with you already, I think. Content to be led to the reception room, the Sorcerer enters with the ease of knowing he's perfectly welcome and immediately gets to categorizing what, if anything, has changed since last he was here speaking with Master Hamir. Nothing, apparently. The timelessness remains, decor ranging from civilizations lost to sand dunes and onwards, trinkets as much as home beside the beading so adored by Tibetan culture. The time-worn tapestry on the wall gets a smirk before the Journeywoman speaking brings him to turn and face her, his hands clasped behind his back a la dignity and mantle.

"If you make yourselves comfortable, please, I will fetch what Master B'sso intended to give you." She stands by the doorway still, hands folded primly at her waist.

"Thank you, Journeywoman Ortiz, we'll be waiting," Strange replies, giving her a little nod. One more deep bow, another appraising look given to Wanda, and then they're left to their devices while the figure in rust-red is off on her fetch quest. Strange glances over at his fiancee. "Both enamored and intrigued. You'll be the talk of the city for days." Preen-preen-preen. "You probably wouldn't like living here. The gossip can be terrible." He pauses, his eyes lingering on her. "Or would you want to live here?"

|ROLL| Wanda +rolls 1d20 for: 11

The journeywoman does a fine job of waiting on the matters of import, and as a guide, she is fairly faultless. Wanda begrudges her nothing of her task, following behind. The thought of the soul bond alighting is always surprising, given her brother's presence is a constant, but not his thoughts. And thank the gods for that, or else she would be driven to distraction. Why? I do not understand what would enamour her. A concept in thought is fairly pure and easy to understand, though she thinks in Transian first, then Tibetan. Odd, no? What has that tapestry done to you?

Curiosity flickers briefly as she stares at it, unable to decipher the excitement or the surprise it should entail. Bit too mysterious for her? Potentially so. Not to be caught gawking, she clamps her expression back to subdued, the same look that a Korean gives to another across the DMZ. Rigid, far too much, and not giving anyone reason to complain.

Bows, bows, everywhere. While the doctor does not, she inclines her head and presses her elbows tighter to her waist. "Thank you." See, polite too, though she shifts a little, obeisance faint compared to some. It is not her habit to prostrate herself, apparently. Off they go. "I am different. Anyone not known causes talk." The questions settling on them like so much dust, faint and fair, warrants a little consideration, but not much.

"I had no home. I live wherever I can survive." They found her in East Berlin, did SHIELD. Her and her brother, selling information to attract the agency.

As belated reply in regards to the tapestry, Strange glances over at the hanging decor once more. His expression wars between a smile and a sobriety of sorts.

"It's a test that the Ancient One used to give. See how the details within are worn away? 'What do you see?' In a way, one could be tested for imagination, incliations of thought. It was a clever trick, in a way." He looks back to her, still seeming to deflate a little more. "But live where you can survive? Is the Sanctum not safety enough? The gods dare not even breach it."

"Look and see. It is like those inks." Rorschach tests are something not heavily espoused in the eastern parts of Europe, but they obviously know of them. "The answer tells about the person." Not unfamiliar at all, that premise. "This our father would do. Take a weapon. Fight. You see the nature by their action."

And their selection, no doubt, an indicator if someone would rather beat someone to a pulp or run them through, or worse. No amazement features on her carefully composed face, but she scrunches her brows closer, lips wrapped in a rose petal moue. "We had no houses," she explains, rather soft-spoken. "We go when we have to. I do not think about place like that."

"Yes." The plane of his cheek indents as he chews on it briefly before opening his mouth. Nothing comes out, until something does. "I don't want you to go." The Sorcerer replies with equal delicacy of tone, stepping over and holding out both hands to her. "You know that I would shield you from the world, «Beloved.»"

…was that movement silhouetted against the contrast of light behind latticed walls? Someone's walking by again, but it's not Journeywoman Ortiz returning with whatever mysterious parcel that B'sso assigned to Strange's safekeeping. Nope. It's another rust-red Journeyman entirely, pausing to come to a complete halt in the middle of the wide space between room and hallway. He's got a thick piece of dark bread in hand and he finishes chewing to flash a broad smile.

"Monsieur Sorcerer Supreme. You are back so soon," say he, his accent not quite Parisian, but more Quebecois instead.

"I never go without you. But I do not need a house or a city to be me." They aren't necessarily capturing the spirit of the thought behind it and she spreads her hands out to capture his. The warmth of the skin isn't to be forgotten, nor ignored, given a decided firmness in deliberation. I am not a tree defined by roots somewhere. I am more like a river, I go where I must go. We can find happiness anywhere. It should be something clearer that way, but perhaps not.

God, they're caught. Her thoughts explode in silvery edges, dagger bright and sharp, turning on the risk of being spied on. Apparently in his neck of the woods, this is entirely normal behaviour. Whoever the Qu%<u00e9>b%<u00e9>cois is, he's bound to suffer for the pretentions. Sneaking and stalking is her job. Bread heel at hand and this mystery is whom, exactly? "Are you locked out?"

Indeed, caught — and while Strange can sense the claws slowly slipping from velvet sheaths in regards to the Witch, his is a more glinting gaze locking upon the Journeyman from on high. The young man with deep-auburn hair visibly loses his glittering attempt at charm, seeming to shrink under the regard of both senior practitioners. Wanda beats him to the punch with questioning and there is a little part of Stephen Strange that does enjoy watching the presumptuous Journeyman squirm.

Still, the young man seems to regain some level of confidence and dares a step into the room proper before stopping again, his bread all but ignored now for the sake of something novel here in Kamar-Taj: the Witch. "Not at all, mademoiselle. I was merely doing my rounds for the night, seeking to see that all Apprentices are a-bed. Some choose to stay up later than is advised." He executes a deep bow as well, this one with arm held across his chest, palm resting over his heart. "Journeyman Trefoyte, mademoiselle. May I have the honor of knowing your name?" Held hands means status; he's no idiot.

|ROLL| Wanda +rolls 1d20 for: 20

The boss is the one to be afraid of, given he holds power over the others, especially in the way of promotions and reflecting unpleasantly on their behaviour come review time. No need to worry about the fiancee of the man; worry much more about the doctor. He has pride and rank on his side. The chewing on the inner corner of her mouth mars whatever smile is unlikely to form. While she has the mouth for it, the prospect of a grin simply isn't there. Nor will it really ever be.

Apprentices have bedtime? Billy is never, ever going to live that down even though he is ensconced in his own place. Maybe there need to be no reality hops after nine, for the sake of the many. The idea is leaking over the bond without her effort to share it, a matter no doubt related directly to those misplaced maternal impulses that one day lead indirectly or directly to their children. Children that aren't Trefoyte's, for that matter, a future inscribed somewhere among the many. Wait a few moments and then she looks at those hands pressing over one's heart and sketching bows. Bemused more than bewildered, her eyes narrow a fraction. Unctuous is a route Pietro handles so much better. "Wanda," she says without any preamble.

Though all help him if he's going to stare into her aura, because the earth element has totally shifted away and what's left behind is raw, unbridled storm surge, lurking under an incredibly calm surface. Yes, come a little closer, and drown.

Some choose to stay up rather than get the sleep they need and suffer for it. Days begin early here. He surely means the youngest Apprentices, no one under eighteen. When you are older than that, you choose your own demise. Still, he's amused, at least that which vibrates across the soulbond.

The terse response has one man curling a knowing little smirk and the other very nonplussed. Well, shoot. This normally works on the other sex. One can almost see the wheels turning behind Trefoyte's hazel eyes as he's left without anything clever to say. Eventually, though, he does risk another look at Strange, as if silently asking permission to come closer. None is given, seeing as the Sorcerer seems to be watching him in the very same manner that his Master Hayden does during training trials.

"A…pleasure to meet you, Mademoiselle Wanda. I had assumed that you were of Journeyman status as myself, given your colors, but I see that I am wrong. I apologize." Oh gods, he's sorry for everything now, stop looking at him like he's this quaint little partridge on a fenceline!

Suffer unto thee, little children, who mean to loiter into the late hours of the night reading. I am sure you never wasted your sleep learning from the tomes here. She knows his sleep habits probably better than any but the elder Masters, familiar with someone who endured long, sleepless nights of a medical residency, followed by sheer pride to master all those immense mysteries housed in the tomes and practices of those who went before. Her mouth doesn't turn up. It rarely will.

Charm she is not immune to. How can one seduce someone witness to the depravities and sorrows of the Warsaw Pact, so used to erosion by inches? Present kindness and wit, tolerance and knowledge, charm that washes away her natural disturst. Her fingers remain locked among Strange's, slim against his scarred digits.

She wears none of the standard colours of journeymanship or mastery, cosmopolitan fashion for the street. Understandable poor Trefoyte has no idea whatsoever about her rank or status, nor is she very forthcoming about such matters. Let him walk into that bear trap alone. "My colours?" she asks, head cocked a degree. "Skin too dark?"

I utilized my time in the manner I considered most wise, Strange replies along their kything, still eyeing the Journeyman with that hint of a foxy smile on his lips. Of course, this was executed as "body there, Astral form here, read-read-read, annoy Wong all the more because it's my unspoken side-hobby".

The query as to her skin color is enough to blanch Trefoyte's own. "No! No-no-no-no!" His eyes flick to the Sorcerer, reading his chances of survival in the man's face, and apparently finds them high enough to warrant continuing. "Mademoiselle, never that. The Journeyman, here, we wear red, as you do — " He plucks at his vest with his free hand, the other still holding the long-ignored and half-eaten slice of brown bread. "I…" What's that glinting on her hand, on a finger entangled amidst the Master's own scarred digits? His open mouth drops a centimeter more and the topmost edges of white teeth show above his bottom lip briefly. "«Mon Dieu, je n'avais aucune idee qu'il vous avait propose,» I am so sorry — Mistress of the New York Sanctum, my deepest apologies." And deepest bow yet, one he holds with no hint of mockery or attempt at guile.

Strange glances over at her with brows lightly lifted and finally, that smile dimples up. Jig's up, he thinks to her, exasperation intermingled in dry amusement.

Astral projection to read is a valid venture; she uses it as much to spy, though less so nowadays when the very idea might put someone horribly on edge and cast dear Doctor Strange in a poor light. The Sorcerer Supreme doesn't need his fiancee the source of great wickedness and rumour. After all, Caesar's wife must be unimpeachable, from the deified Augusta.

She registers that mild, mellow blink as the journeyman falls over himself to explain things, and tie those topics into knots the better to not offend. "And green?" An idle inquiry, really, but one that injects a piercing point of curiosity that has nothing at all to do with quetzals and Baron von Mordo, except where it does. No one has to doubt. She can even tip her head slightly. All this bowing and scraping is something that her external armour of expression, not wearing a mask or a corset, is called upon for. Her head tips slightly. Let's just twist that knife ever so much.

"Madame Docteur," she puts a simple point on it. "I am his…" Transian pause here, convert, translate. "I devil him."

Bedevil me, really? This is Stephen unable to keep the silent laughter from twinkling in his eyes as he mentally addresses the Witch. Trefoyte looks up from holding his bow, the motion leading him to a merely quarter-angled bow rather than the one that nearly planted him on his face in his alacrity.

"Green, Madame Docteur?" The pause is accompanied by another look to Strange, who simply gives him expectant attention in return. …is this a test? It's a test, isn't it — one can almost see this filtering through the Journeyman's brain. "We do not ascribe to green as a color of learning status here. A Master may choose to wear another color other than blue," and he nods at the Sorcerer Supreme as example of someone sticking to long-honored tradition rather than diversion, " — but no one has done so with green for…some time now." This seems to be an odd little point of realization to him and he straightens entirely in his spot. Strange drops his chin briefly, rolling his lips; he suspects that he knows why she asks and, as always, the bruise on his heart twinges. "Congratulations, Master Strange," the Journeyman adds, daring a little smile, and the man inclines his head to Trefyote.

"Thank you, Journeyman Trefoyte."

"And to you as well, Madame Docteur — mais non, Mistress Strange. …Mademoiselle Wanda…?" Poor guy peters out again in uncertainty.

Help the young man, «Beloved», he's attempting respect though it seems as not. Still more of that charmingly-suppressed laughter in those steel-blue eyes.

"I know a master in green." She shrugs her shoulders slightly, less goading than marching right into the no-man's-land heedless of any possible mines hidden under the conversation, conventions something else to worry about. In this, a glimpse of Pietro as a sorcerer or warlock becomes altogether too apparent. "Maybe made to go away. A sign of no favour. Or a promise to be quiet." Yes, the latter sounds about right; the bond burns up with the symmetries of a mouthless Mordo scowling grumpily at a book on English phonics, marking the differences in glottal vowels while unable to make them. Maybe he eats through a straw. A little straw-shaped hole bursts out into that vision, and so it is Mordo is in the whistle register.

Point of devilry made, is it not?

At the choice of names, her nose wrinkles for most of them. "Wanda. His," she raises her thumb from the clasp of their hands to point at the Cloak in its proud collars and the peppery temples, "in formal setting." And this, people, is the heart of the universe, characteristically blunt and something of a trickster when the mood takes. Karma reflects the same elements, too.

Strange has to turn his head entirely away, facing towards the far wall and its mysterious tapestry, to allow himself the teeth-sucking effort not to let loose the laugh. It bubbles away just behind the back of his tongue. She has the most wicked timing, deliberate for certain, and no doubt she can catch the pizicatto pluckings of the chuckling along the soulbond, bright and mellow notes still tinged with a bright point of rue. Poor Trefoye, he's not even sure what to do again other than reply to Wanda, slowly at first.

"Er, mais, Madame, it seems…improper to address you as such, without title," he says with a minor cringe. "You are Madame Docteur. Should I use Madame Wanda then?"

Slim fingers point to Strange. "What do you call him? Master, Doctor, Supreme?" Legitimate questions, all said and done, conquering the unfamiliar by slaying those wyverns one by one. "I am not so important. Wanda is enough." She shrugs her shoulders, eloquent underneath the coat, the ripple of motion carried through her obsidian shirt and the corset clinging to every line of her body, a woman's armament. It is not a cruelty to strike some balance, like foreign dignitaries of imperial China and Venice Beach hippie communes meeting. Slight difference seeing eye to eye. "You have titles and traditions. I do not know them." Or not as much as Trefoyte would. "Wrong to say Master when not tested. Maybe, then, it should be done."

Agatha must be rolling over in her astral manor to a collective shudder on the leylines, her apprentice dipping her toe into the proverbial waters. "I do no dishonour to him otherwise." She inclines her head at the good doctor, champion of the Vishanti. "But without someone who says I meet these things, I cannot say I am them honestly."

Trefoyte's hazel eyes slide to Strange and linger. These are honest questions and there's certainly enough pressure to answer as a representative of Kamar-Taj, much less do so correctly before the Sorcerer Supreme himself, noted graduate of the Mystical schooling. He might not be sweating bullets visibly, but surely sweaty palms count?

"We address Master Strange as such," he says, mincing through the words with the attention of the proud Sorcerer upon him. "He is Sorcerer Supreme elsewise. You are not a graduate of Kamar-Taj — respectfully, Madame — and so, with your permission, I will address you as Madame Wanda." Points must be given to the Journeyman for not taking that step further into the room or choosing a title of more familiarity when none is available to him.

"Master Strange," repeats the brunette. It will do, assented to with a nod. She can't very well call him smooshy-pook in the middle of public without suggesting she is in fact speaking Vietnamese, in part because they have Vietnamese speakers and those who can speak all languages ever. Nor would his reputation benefit by being called the 'wretched mischievous snuggle pantsy mcbandersnatch' which is, naturally, of equal possibility.

Is it any wonder witches are viewed with such care and distrust by the greater occult community. Maybe they are not; Agatha certainly is. For that, the amber-eyed witch regards the world almost placidly. "No, I am no graduate. Though maybe you have…" Equivalency tests? GEDs? 'General Mystic Badass Quotient?' "Know the skill of one. I am not to ask for something I am not. Mademoiselle. Madame says now I am married in all ways. Not to the Vishanti am I. Yet." Baaaad girl.

"Mais…" And Trefoyte stops as Strange arches one dark eyebrow at him silently. He amends his tack of conversation immediately. "Oui, Mademoiselle Wanda. I shall address you as such. But, I ask — if you change your mind, please, let me know."

Across the soulbond: You severely underestimate yourself and judge yourself against another calibre of study entirely. We need to discuss this. A warmer inflection wends through the seriousness of his thought, belying the possibilities of something else entirely.

Perhaps it seems that this matter is settled; all well and good. The Sorcerer looks beyond the Journeyman, perhaps thinking that he heard the approaching steps of Journeywoman Ortiz, but then Trefoyte speaks again.

"I…hazard it is not well-known that you have proposed, Master Strange…?"

Rubbing the pad of his thumb along her knuckles briefly, Stephen smiles almost as if to himself before looking back at Trefoyte. "It is not. I expect to remain as such until formal announcement is given." For all that he delivers the edict mildly, there is a lovely under-lacing of warning beneath it. The Journeyman in his rust-red nods, almost quickly, and murmurs,

"Mais oui, Master Strange, I shall keep my peace." His ears go red at the tips as those dark brows rise.

"Will you?" Strange asks again in that tone.

"Master Strange, I promise, on my word as a student of Kamar-Taj and my family's good name, I will not speak of this."

"Speak of it to whom…?" There is a matter of syntax, after all, an ommission noted. Trefoyte blushes the deeper and drops his eyes, caught.

"I will not speak of this to anyone, sir." He looks up through his lashes to see Strange nod.

"Thank you, Journeyman Trefoyte. I acknowledge your restraint. It is ours to give and ours alone." He watches to make sure that he gets another nod in return and, indeed, he gets it.

What was that now? I am not going to claim advantage unproven. I said I would be tested as necessary. Let them name an officiant. It is to death or yield, no?

What on earth has Agatha put in her head? Apparently what the rest of the world whispers, possibly, though she is entirely sanguine in the quiet moments when her thoughts radiate the messages her face mostly does not. Except for that petite nose wrinkle, smoothing when the young man announces he will be their secret keeper against Baron Mordomort.

Poor Billy.

"Does Kamar-Taj have newspapers?" she asks, apropos of nothing.

Because like you do, when being the outsider. Might as well lighten the air give Trefoyte a case of the vapors.

Death or yield?! That gains Wanda a sharp look out of the blue, concern flashing through his eyes like a lightning bolt. Trefoyte looks properly confused, of course, having no idea of the conversation continuing without his knowledge. I don't believe it's been done like that for nigh on…three thousand years here. I sincerely do think we need to have a discussion now, and his mental nuances suggest that this is a solid plan, likely to happen sooner than not.

About that newspaper… Strange glances over at Trefoyte again, his chin lifting the slightest. "Mademoiselle Wanda makes a good point and that, in turn, reminds me. Trefoyte." The frosting of a French accent disappears into that mild Midwestern twang soon enough, resonating like a steel string through his words. "If I find you have been writing this information down, I will also speak with you on the matter."

And there goes the blush — caught yet again. Damn syntax! "Oui, Master Strange…" mutters the Journeyman, looking put-out by the frown turned upon him.

Oh indeed, there can be no hope of that explanation or escape. Wanda responds by merely raising her eyebrows ever so slightly. It is suggested one must battle for the rank and recognition. It is no mere test. Or is it? Her thoughts are peppered by a hundred images and fleeting impressions, difficult to really shake out.

I am open to discussion. Your man here is perturbed? The ability to think in words that make sense is a pleasure, for all she tends not to exercise the link in that way. Because she cannot help but to smile ever so faintly to herself, inwardly, at the point made. She ought not to dare crack that. "Or thoughts. They buzz like a web." There, perhaps, the very first inkling of what that poor fool of a journeyman is dealing with. Is she a knife-wielding psychic? Worse, maybe, in ways that count. As dark as he is, poor Trefoyte, and perhaps worse.

There will be discussion, the Sorcerer promises her across the kything, and adds, Of course Trefoyte is perturbed. His Master isn't lenient, but Trefoyte thinks he's clever. He is, but to a point, and sometimes, I must remind him of it. It keeps him humble. Oh, but the tumbling of wicked amusment that jounces down the line, warm and dappling like afternoon sun. He knows of the hypocrisy, readies himself for the ball to fly back across the court.

That Journeyman, however? Watch the barest inklings of suspicion begin to grow and a faintly-horrified mask take over his face. …oh gods below, can the Witch read his mind?! Ohshitohshit, she heard what he thought about the corset?!?!

"Trefoyte?" Saved by Ortiz! The Journeywoman appears holding a milk jug-sized bundle wrapped in ceremonial silk, its color a deep purple attributed to royalty and sanctity. The Spanish woman eyes him even as she walks past, noting the half-eaten bread and his generally-flustered air, but chooses not to say anything aloud; instead, the lofted brows speak to intimated surprise and question. But the answer for later, it appears. "Master Strange, my apologies. I was not sure as to where Master B'sso put the relic, but here," and she offers it to him. Strange had extricated his fingers from amongst those of Wanda when the Journeywoman appeared initially and now he takes the relic.

"Thank you, Journeywoman Ortiz. Waiting was no matter. Journeyman Trefoyte was kind enough to keep us entertained." Trefoyte actually nearly scuffs a foot, both pleased and still mortified, all in one sweaty-palmed bundle. "We won't keep you awake further, I'm sure that you have other tasks to complete before the evening comes in darkest."

"Oui, and thank you, Master Strange. Mademoiselle Wanda, a pleasure to meet you," and Trefoyte bows deeply again even as he's beginning a backwards step of retreat. Ortiz? She's watching him as if she's never seen this behavior before. "I must go and make certain that the Apprentices are all a-bed. Until next time." And he turns on his heel and walks away, just quickly enough to betray an abject need to flee. Journeywoman Ortiz blinks a few times and looks back at the visitors.

"He was polite?" She seems to hate to ask, the uncertainty at overstepping displayed in how she rubs at her earlobe, jostling the golden hoop within it. Her dark eyes land especially on Wanda yet again, possibly due to the novelty status of the Witch here in the city.

((To be continued))

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