1965-05-23 - Couple Days in NYC
Summary: Vasant stops by the Sanctum to catch Strange and Lamont up on the Hargrove situation.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
lamont strange lindon 

The Sanctum Sanctorum. Not an unusual place for Strange and Lamont to be of an evening. There is a knock at the door. Standing at the doorstep is an Indian man, looking good for being in his forties (though time has aged him around the eyes with lines of worry). His black curled hair is shot through with silver, and his skin is weathered from the sun and wind. He's dressed in jeans, a white-tshirt, and a denim jacket, and he's got a military-issue duffel slung over one shoulder. There are sleepless nights shadowing his eyes, but he's got a smile on his face.

Of course, Strange would recognize his friend, Vasant Kulkarni. In the flesh, this time. Either that or astral projections have gotten really good lately.

It's for Strange to answer the door…or let the wards do it. They're post-sparring, discussing technque - Lamont's changed back into one of his usual neat suits, after cleaning himself up. There's tea. It's all very civilized.

"…and thus, the overextension of the kything leaves you open to such — " The Sorcerer pauses and looks unerringly towards the front doors of the Sanctum. He too has changed out of sweatpants and loose t-shirt. In his Master-blues, he glances up as the silver wards report of the vistor as well as name. "We'll return to that another time, Cranston. I wonder if you've met this man."

Rising from his chair in the first-floor living room, he walks to the front door and opens it inwards. The smile given to Vasant is polite and friendly, moreso than the average guests receives, and he steps back while sweeping an outstretched arm inwards. "Vasant. By all means, come in. We've tea in the parlor if you'd like some."

"Stephen,," Vasant says with warmth, and he steps in, clasping the Sorcerer Supreme on the shoulder. "My friend. It's good to see you face to face. You look well." He glances past Strange to spy Lamont. "Am I interrupting? Tea sounds fantastic." He's clearly got an Indian accent, but his English is spoken with ease, the accent straight out of New Jersey.

He releases the clasp and waves a little to Lamont. "Hello. My name's Vasant. I just got into town a little while ago." He holds still to let the wards do their thing before he makes his way over to where tea lives. He sets his duffel down and rolls his shoulders.

"Not at all," Lamont says, with uncharacteristic humility. But then, having recently been schooled hard by the Sorcerer will do that to you. He comes forward to offer a hand. "Lamont," he says, with a little smile. Let the aura vs aura sorcerer's chicken begin. "A pleasure to meet you." No explanation of who he is or why he might be here.

"No, not interrupting at all," Strange replies to his guest before looking back to see Lamont joining them. The wards roll over the man in their usual misty tingle of curiousity and dismiss him as safe to enter the Sanctum proper — back into the dark woodwork they go.

Once all three are in the living room, the Sorcerer returns to his chair (the one with the divot worn into it from hours of reading/speaking with various folks) and leans back comfortably into it. "Lamont is my…apprentice, if you will. He's under my tutelage until further necessity releases him upon the world." A rather prideful grin dimples the man's cheeks briefly. A scarred hand lifts to gesture both at the Shadow, in passing, and then towards the tea tray, with its accompanying accoutrements. "Satchets are of various blends. You'll find both sugar and cream available, even honey if that piques your interest. It's from the high mountains, actually, the Valley of Flowers, north of Rishikesh. It has a…" He pauses and frowns consideringly. "An airy note, somehow. I've become quite the connoissieur of honeys lately." The soft laugh is indulgent to himself.

Vasant clasps Lamont's hand, a firm and friendly shake. His hand are calloused from a lifetime's hard work, but they are strong and capable. His aura is subtle, like a whisper of a warm breeze that calls to mind the headiness of clove and cardamom.

"That sounds quite nice," Vasant tells Stephen, and he indeed does sample that honey with his tea, a dark and strong selection, something with a robust flavor. His smile returns as he takes his seat. "I would have brought honey, had I known. Instead, I brought books."

Lamont's aura is dark and smoky, redolent of cold stone and the curl of incense; the bitter sweet resins like myrrh and opoponax. He bows a little over that hand, though there's a pleased dart of his gaze to the Sorcerer. Still a thrill in being termed Strange's apprentice.

The Shadow gets the subtle nod in turn, acknowledgment of slant-compliment given and then the traditional mask and mantle of Sorcerous formality takes over.

"Perhaps next time, Vasant. Books, however? I'm intrigued." Resting an elbow each on the arms of the chair, Strange nearly steeples his fingers before his sternum; each tip rests against that of its mirrored brother, forming a near triangle of shape. "Please, do go on." His eyes glint with intelligence galvanized.

Vasant tells Lamont, "Your education is in good hands." One can't do much better than the Sorcerer Surpeme, and Vasant seems to be a fan. He waves a hand in dismissal as he says, "Nothing too noteworthy. I found a pair of tomes in my searching that I did not think you had, as they are one of a kind. Histories of a lost civilization. I thought perhaps you would find them interesting conversation pieces, and I? I can't take proper care of them as I'm always on the move."

He sets his tea aside so he can open his duffel. The books he withdraws are indeed old, bound in leather, with the gilt worn off their spines. They're collections of stories of some long-passed Celtic tribe as told by one of the Roman soldiers who helped destroy it, translated from Latin into English. Two odd pieces of antiquity salvaged from somewhere. He presents them to Strange. "As I said, they aren't much."

Of course, Lamont's got that feline look of interest on his own face. Curious, indeed. He doesn't speak up to demand what they are. That'll unfold. Maybe Strange will let him sniffat them later, metaphorically speaking.

"Hmm." Strange takes the offered books, one at a time, and carefully sets the second aside on the table next to his chair. His own teacup is empty but for the dregs; no risk of spilling unless something dramatic happens — and if the Sorcerer has his druthers, nothing will injure the newly-acquired tomes. He carefully places a palm flat upon the front of the first book and closes his eyes, brows drawing together into a faint frown.

After a second, he murmurs, "No curse upon this one. Good." Most carefully, he lifts the leather-bound cover to reveal yellowed and delicate pages. The faintest scent of musty vellum rises, accompanied by the cool sweetness of lignin breaking down, almost vanillin by note. The script is crisp, flowing, iron-dark still with heavy ink. "Oh ho," and the Sorcerer gives Vasant a pleased look. "Thank you, Vasant. A treasured find indeed. I'll have to be certain to keep these in a safe place." Within the Sanctum, the manor both museum and penitentiary? Oh dear.

"I tested them as well, but yours is the greater expertise," Vasant says. There's no envy there. Vasant has his own areas he's good at. Astral projection, as Strange well knows. He takes up his cup and toasts Strange with it. "It pleases me they've found their home."

He takes a sip of his tea, and his eyes close. He breathes in, and he breathes out a contented sigh. It's the first decent cup of tea he's had in months. "It is good to be here," he says. "Tell me, how have you been doing? How fares New York?"

The Shadow's gray eyes are alight. But I touch tha fishy. Lamont's all but sitting on his hands to restrain himself, occupying himself with the rituals of tea, attending with the proper demure silence of a student in the presence of his teachers.

"New York still stands," the Sorcerer quips with that touch of ironic humor. "Reality is as stable as can be managed. I cannot lodge a complaint and it would do me little good to do so as is. I have been worse off." His lips twist faintly. "I wondered if you'd brought news of your hunt? Cranston is aware of current events, in regards to Hargrove," he's certain to add with another more crisp nod towards the Shadow.

He sets the first book atop the second and then looks to Lamont expectantly. "Would you set these aside on the desk over there, by the window? I can ensure their safe placing later this evening." He means the heavy oak-wood writing desk tucked beneath one of the tall and thin windows that line the outer walls of the parlor room, currently with heavy blinds drawn tightly.

Vasant nods to Strange and inclines his head to Lamont. "I see." He holds his delicate teacup in his worn, weathered hands so carefully. Gazing down at its contents, he says, "He has been moving North. I thought to head him off at the pass if he means to come here. I doubt he will, he prefers to let his minions do his dirty work; if anything, he's probably going to meet with them elsewhere, maybe upstate, and then move on. My next stop is Toronto. I have a couple days in New York, though."

Lamont obediently rises to move the books as requested. AT the mention of Hargrove, he looks grave…..well, graver, considering. No comment from im, for the moment.

Strange has the wherewithal to thank Lamont quietly before he turns his sharp attention back to his guest. Back to the steepling of fingers he goes and he closes his eyes. His chest rises and falls once before he speaks again, eyelids rising that a glint of surface present betrays their opening at all.

"How certain are you that he is here, in North America? Much less in the state proper?" His cheekbones grow momentarily stark as he grits teeth and then relaxes his jaw once more. "I would be tempted to hazard trapping him if he dares to get so near."

Vasant pats his pockets, and he withdraws a newspaper clipping, a little tattered but in one piece. He offers it to Strange as he says, "Vivian Westler, she was a witch of some power. Nothing to write home about, but she had a talent for biokinesis. She could alter her body to adapt to various environments. She studied the spells at Kamar Taj in her twenties."

The news clipping shows a picture of someone in her sixties. The headline says 'Local Woman Found Dead' and the story pretty much confirms it. "That happened three days ago in DC. Before that, I came in hot on his heels in Ashville. Before that, Shreveport. He might bypass New York altogether, but I've come just in case."

Kent's returned to sit mutely, taking up his tea again. But there's that feverish glitter in his eyes, despite the apparent calm. His gaze darts to Strange, now and again.

Taking the frail clipping, Strange frowns down at the image accompanied by the short report. In black and white, some of the woman's humanity is stripped, but she has — had a friendly smile.

"Westler…" he murmurs to himself, idly rubbing two fingertips at one silvered temple, as if this would jog memories of names. He looks up at Vasant again and the flinty shadow to cross his eyes is banished away in the name of polite hosting. "Would that I knew more of her. Biokinesis. An enviable trait." His gaze flicks to Lamont and catches at one of those moments of returned glance. "Cranston? You have a thought?" He asks this calmly, for all that he can read a tension in his fauxpprentice's body.

Vasant's lips form a thin line. He swallows and says in a soft tone, "I could haved saved her if not for something so mundane as traffic. Or maybe I would've merely gotten myself killed as well. We'll never know." He winces with a pinched smile that fades quickly as he drops his gaze. He glances toward Lamont, then. "I would welcome your thoughts."

"It does seem a perfect opportunity for a trap," he opines, softly. "The Sorcerer forewarned….for surely he'll come here. The concentration of power, of knowledge, of artifacts…."

"No. He wouldn't dare try breaking in. The Mystical community is well aware of these places, this Sanctum and the others, of how they are guarded. That the buildings still stand is not only a testament of time, but of the surety of the wardings about them. Others have tried before and failed." There's not much pride to be found in those words; that there have been attempts before is harrowing enough, much less their uneviable results from ley-line backlash.

Strange sighs and offers the newspaper clipping back to Vasant. "The trap would need to be elsewhere…outside of the city, far from humanity as a cluster. I don't doubt he would easily attempt to take innocents with him, if it came to more brutal blows."

Vasant says, "Innocent lives mean nothing to him. He refrains only because, for these past many years, he has been hidden and wanting to keep it that way. Too many deaths garner too much notice. I have no doubt he wouldn't hesitate to kill." He scrubs his hand with a weathered palm, then sits up and takes another drink of tea. It's a small comfort, but all the comfort one can get is welcome.

"So far, he's left New York in the care of his witch and his right hand. That they've been laying low as well concerns me. People go missing in this city all the time, and even young wizards with small talent aren't safe. Those on the fringes of our society might be easy pickings. They would be funneling the power out of New York to him without him ever having to cross within city limits."

"We should go find him. Strike him before he expects it," Lamont suggests. There's that darkness in his eyes….eagerness. This is what he's meant to do, to balance the scales, destroy evil before it can distort the true workings of Fate, and the mantle can be heavy. Insistent, even.

The steel-blue eyes shift from his guest and over to his fauxpprentice. The Sorcerer tilts his head in an indication towards Vasant even as he replies quietly to Lamont,

"Vasant has been hunting for months now. His talents lie in the tracking of those capable of disappearing from all but the cleverest of us. If he cannot directly locate Hargrove, I will not risk a blind attempt to flush out the man. He is nothing to be trifled with. I need more solid information before I can involve myself…at least." The last bit is spoken almost hesitantly, with an accompanying grimace of distaste. "I would locate the man myself, but I cannot leave the Sanctum unattended for long periods of time. We're lucky to have Vasant working as he does. Hargrove should be all the more uncomforable knowing Kulkarni hunts him." His smile is nothing kind, cold, as if he takes a chill delight in the long reach of his fellow graduate's skills.

Vasant inclines his head and says, "The man doesn't stay anymore more than a few days, so there is that." He finishes his tea, then sets the cup aside and gets to his feet. "Which reminds me, I should get back to work. I will find somewhere safe to sleep while I track him in the Astral plane." He offers his hand to Lamont. "A pleasure to meet you. It does my heart good to meet another who wants him caught as much as we do."

"You have no idea, sir," Lamont's tone is almost whimsical, as he shakes that offered hand. But that glint in his eyes is like obsidian.

Strange rises to his feet as well, ever the obliging host to those in need, and watches the two interact with a small, somewhat pleased smile hovering at the corners of his lips.

"Should you ever need a place of total security, Vasant, come to the Sanctum. You know of our defenses. I merely extend the offer," and he gestures before himself symbolically with an open scarred palm. "I ask that you contact me again if you find him near to or even within the city. It is tantamount to a threat and will need to be addressed." And it will be, one way or another, should it come to pass. For now, the Sorcerer escorts Vasant and his bag to the front door of the Sanctum and the final exchange of pleasantries is a happy if not grim one:

"Good hunting, Kulkarni."

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