1965-07-18 - The Real Enemy Here Is The Dice
Summary: Banishing a deadly Nokk and Nix, a father and son outing.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
vic strange 

Central Park at this time of night is still busy enough to warrant arriving in style, if not behind the cover of a thick copse of trees, one of many scattered around the extensive greenbelt. Out from the trunks steps a man wearing blue jeans and slate-blue boots (the upper parts of which are most definitely out of sync with general NYC fashion, having criss-crossed leather lengths and go infinitely more with his Master-blues, but they hide beneath the jeans); he absently begins rolling back the cuffs of his black dress-shirt even as he says quietly over his shoulder,

"Now, here's the thing." It's not only the Sorcerer Supreme Voice, it's the Dad Voice too. "If, for any second, you begin to feel odd — in any way: tired, tingly, whatever — let me know. I can put up a barrier and then continue the banishment. Nokk are nothing to tangle with lightly. Their powers are geared to lay a mortal devoid of logical thought before they can blink twice." He pauses up on the path, making certain that his companion exits properly from the hidden Gate and the tangle of trunks.

Vic steps out, arriving in his own brand of style. Jeans, a white t-shirt that fits like a second skin, and a sensible pair of brown leather hiking boots. Vic's hair is swept back from his brow, a little too curly to stay in place, but he makes it work. He's a strapping, handsome lad, after all. "All right," he says, his expression Very Serious in the face of Dad (and Sorcerer Supreme) imparting information.

"I feel pretty good," he says after giving it a thought. He drops into a stance for fighting, all poised and watchful. Time to make Dad proud. Or worried. Worried works, too.

"Right now you may, yes," Sorcerous Dad agrees even as he then crosses the path and begins to walk into the continuation of the spread of trees. These are younger growth, tall enough that limbs only barely risk brushing at his silver-templed hair at his height. "Stay close." His words are muted in containment under the moon-struck boughs above them, a mixture of aspen, maple, and other deciduous species. He continues explaining to Vic, "The nature sanctuary is rarely disturbed, but people have gone missing on the banks of the Pond. The modus operendi speaks to water sprites, but carnivorous. As I mentioned before, I suspect Nokk. Or Nix. There'll probably be both, so be doubly on-guard."

It's not but a few minutes before the wading through leafy undergrowth seems to ease up and the sheet-like surface of the Pond appears through the trees. Strange travels a few hundred feet closer and then comes to a halt, one hand upheld to stop Vic from traveling further. "…yes, this is the spot. See the clothing on the bank?" By craning one's neck, the pile of discarded sweatpants and shirt plus running sneakers can be see lying forlornly. Rain-spotted, dark with some splash-stain, they've been there for enough time to accumulate detritus upon them. "…shit." That's Dad cursing himself at being too late for someone.

Vic nods to Strange, his serious expression still in place. He's grown in his year of life thus far in both wisdom and martial prowess. Those hard lessons of getting whomped on by Dad have paid off. The moment Strange lifts his hand, Vic stops. He nods toward the clothing on the bank and says quietly, "I see it."

Tentatively, Vic lays a hand on Strange's shoulder, giving it a squeeze. There's compassion in those big blue eyes. The kid's full of the stuff. "It ends tonight," he says, perhaps meaning to reassure.

"It sure as the seven hells is going to end…" The Sorcerer's tone is low and cold enough to frost on steel. He looks to Vic and the shadow of a smile crosses his lips. "Worst part about this is…and don't tell your mother," he adds, arching one brow in conspiratorial insinuation, "…but we'll have to be the bait. Not you alone, not myself alone…but both of us. Two victims are always better than one. The pair won't need to share this time, if you will." He looks back to the water, eyes narrowed. "They wouldn't let the opportunity pass."

With both men as ready as they'll ever be, it's not but a minute's more travel before they reach the bank. Strange chooses to take a seat on the leaf-covered slope about ten feet downwind of the clothing and then pats the ground beside himself. "We've got to act like we have no idea," he says nearly sotto-voce. "Wary prey might get passed over."

Vic nods smartly. He loves his mother. She hangs the moon, to him. He also knows things go smoother if, perhaps, she doesn't always know all the details about Dad time. The prospect of bait is something he takes in stride. It makes sense, and he's not afraid! "The better to draw them out," he agrees.

Vic comes to sit beside Strange. "Gotcha." He draws his knees up, resting his forearms upon them as he admires the lake's placid surface. "It's a nice night," he comments. "Quiet without Billy around, but nice."

|ROLL| Vic +rolls 1d20 for: 3

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 1

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 4

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 3

Strange nods as he extends one booted foot towards the edge of the water. Just stretching. Streeeetching out the legs after a long walk, whew, toooootally not putting it within easy reach of a webbed hand. The other he bends and then rests an arm upon.

"Billy would know to be quiet if I asked him…but yes, he has a tendency to chatter," the man agrees in a soft voice. It almost seems improper to disturb the stillness about them. The surface of the Pond is barely riffled by air movement and the reflection of the city's lit buildings beyond counts as a form of night-light, in an urban way.

It doesn't take long at all. By all accounts, for one of the Fae, it's about the most ridiculously un-subtle approach possible. The female, the Nokk, breaks the surface of the Pond about five yards out with her back before descending again. Her skin is smooth and pale-green and it is very apparent that she wears no shirt, at the very least. Strange straightens in place in surprise at how blatant it is and then scowls. "…what in the seven hells…?" he murmurs, now scanning the waters between the dispersing ripples and the bank before them.

Vic smiles crookedly. "Yeah," he says. Just the one word is infused with such brotherly affection. Billy is the big brother Vic follows around. He relaxes with a sigh as he watches the water. Still alert, still poised for action, but there's an ease about him. Sure, danger is coming, but right now it's a perfect evening.

The moment doesn't last long. Vic perks up when the Nokk crests the surface of the lake. He shifts his seemingly comfortable stance. Another figure moves in the water before him, like the Nokk with smooth, pale-green skin, scales shimmering. A breathtakingly gorgeous male face gazes at him with huge, dark eyes.

Vic leans closer, gazing back. Surely, those big dark eyes couldn't belong to someone (or something) evil. It would be so easy to just slip into the water. Vic hesitates, though. As beautiful as that face is, it's not the face he loves.

|ROLL| Vic +rolls 1d20 for: 6

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 1

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 18

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 1

Even as the Sorcerer squints at the now-smooth patch of lake, he's oblivious to Vic at first. The Nokk surfaces again, almost like a dolphin flirting at a distance, and his jaw drops slightly.

"…what are they doing? Is it drunk?" He might as well be talking to himself. He gets to his feet, all the better to use his height to its advantage. He's nowhere near to jumping in after the thing, but curiosity is a noted weakness for the Sorcerer. On sheer blundering alone, the Nokk entices him to wade in. Water washes up about the laces of his boots and, for now, his toes remain dry. His section of the bank has a small shelf before its sudden drop-off.

The male Fae swims a little closer still to Vic, never dropping his blue gaze. A slow blink seems useless considering the heart-breaking glossiness of his eyes beneath the water's surface. Hair left to grow of its own accord billows slowly; braided lakeweed through it brings shifting hints of green to its depth-dark natural color. Scales spread, large and yet delicately translucent, along the Nix's chest and tops of shoulders, almost as freckles would spread across human skin exposed to sunlight. They reflect the wane city-light. The bank is the perfect ambush site after all…for he can swim right up with easy arm's reach of the young man and still remain rather well-hidden after dropping into the shadow of the naturally-formed underwater cliff to the Pond's bottom. It's a good twenty feet and perhaps more by best guess. Where did the Nix go? Maybe leaning out a little more would allow Vic to be able to see…?

Vic is, alas, too entranced by the Nix to see what's happening with Dad. He does glance up when Strange speaks, but when he glances back to the water, he finds the Nix gone, and that's just as distracting as the Nix himself. Where did he go? Vic looks like a golden retriever whose master has only faked throwing the ball. Aroo?

He rises to his feet and skirts down closer to the lakeside. He's careful not to step into the water, but he leans. Just a little lean won't hurt anything, and it's important to know where the creature went, right?

|ROLL| Vic +rolls 1d20 for: 11

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 7

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 4

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 2

"Vic, stay on the bank." The Sorcerer has enough sense in him to say this sternly after glancing over at the young man, but another nearby splish pulls his attention back to the Pond. He's wary, readied on the pads of his feet to jump backwards and out of reach, but the level of distraction shows true in how his banishment spell seems to flicker into existence rather than crackle as lightning would across the sky. He holds the half-formed spell between his palms at his waist as he waits…because maybe it'll come closer still…? Like a large fish swimming by, he too sees the glint of scales and then she turns beneath the water to peer up at him. The man's mouth drops open unconsciously. Dark eyes…how they beckon before even she does, curling reaching fingers one at a time towards herself. And…wow, yes, absolutely no shirt, confirmed now in the clarity of the water. The spell sputters…and barely clings to existence between his scarred palms.

From the depths, the Nix appears again, absolutely flirting with Vic's own sense of curiosity. He stops about a foot beneath the surface and smiles broadly at the young man. Here…take this hand, my friend. The water breaks and there it is, extended in offer, dripping and enticing through Fae-charm.

|ROLL| Vic +rolls 1d20 for: 6

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 18

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 19

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 17

Vic manages to evade the Nix, leaning over but not too much. He catches a glimpse of the beguiling thing. Vic remains wary through all this, not getting suckered so easily. The pair play a little cat and mouse at the bank, with Vic sidling away, then leaning over again for a peek.

Then the Nix smiles, and Vic smiles reflexively. He's got that youthful idea still that most sentient things are inherently good. Maybe if he just explained to the Nix that he's hurting people and that it's wrong… Vic hesitates, then slowly extends his hand.

"Mmm…" But even as Strange is humming in rebuke behind closed lips at all of this, he's still beginning to bend at the knees as if eventually going to kneel of the extended shelf beneath the three inches of pond-water. The Nokk swims closer still to the surface, grinning cheerfully with her bright teeth, and gestures again rather playfully. Oh come on, fuddy-duddy, it's safe! What could I do to you…? She bites her bottom lip to inject seduction into the maelstrom of Fae-charm nuances and the Sorcerer grits his teeth. "Vic…?" It's Dad checking in — or is it Dad asking for help…?

The Nix has the patience of a saint with the young man. He even nods, seeming to laugh underwater. No rising bubbles betray lost air for it. Then comes the clasp about Vic's wrist, almost in a sense of brotherhood. The Nix's skin is cool but not clammy, wet without being slimy, and the grip firm. Pressure abruptly cranks down on the young man's wrist like a crocodile slamming jaws upon a hapless zebra's leg and back the Nix swims at a frightening speed away from the bank — only to stop short!!! This is no easy prey to pull in after all!

"Yeah?" Vic says, answering Dad. It's a heartbeat before the Nix clasps his wrist, and he lets out a cry as the Nix pulls him. He immediately digs in his heels, and those sensible hiking boots turn out to be a good idea! He's got a reasonable grip on the shore, and his muscles bulge as he pulls his arm back.

"Dad!" The Nix still very much has a grip on him, and he starts straining to back up. The kid can lift a car without too much strain. If he can pull the Nix out of the water, maybe it'll give him an advantage.

|ROLL| Vic +rolls 1d20 for: 9

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 17

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 12

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 15

Nothing to break a charmed Fae stare-down like the frantic yell of one's offspring. Like snapping a strained line, Strange yanks his attention away from the Nokk to see the grappling occurring not two feet from him.

"Vic!" His first instinct is to grab at the white t-shirt and yank as well, but two things very quickly fall out of his favor: damaged nerves flare and he bites down a yelp even as blazing agony in his fingers entices him to release the fabric without another thought — can't override those pain receptors after all, not in chaos like this. Secondly, the Nokk surges up and onto the shelf like a killer whale after a seal…though there's no extra blubber on this predator save for where amply necessary. Her grip is around the Sorcerer's ankle and air leaves him in a startled whoofft?! of sound as he hits the ground flat; she begins pulling him in as well! "LET — GO!!!" He kicks out at the Fae even as water rushes up along one leg of his pants and connects solidly with her face. The Nokk garble-screeches and lets him go to dive beneath the surface, seemingly stunned. How fast can the man scramble back out of reach before she turns about and lunges again?

Vic had better be digging in his heels. With a snarling rictus grin, the Nix continues fighting to drag him in. Sediment and bubbles swirl up as the water Fae uses all his strength in his element to yank. Blunt nails dig into the young man's wrist and possibly break skin — and how has the grip not slid free?! A supernatural suction appears to aid the Nix.

|ROLL| Vic +rolls 1d20 for: 6

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 1

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 7

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 11

Vic makes a slow skidding slide down to the water's edge. The Nix has to work for this meal, and how! Vic is a very strong boy. The Nix, however, is in his element. The waterline touches Vic's boots, and Vic twists and turns in that grasp like a startled cat. Crimson streams trail down his tanned arm where the Nix's nails dig in.

Vic's not so convinced this guy is good at heart anymore, and that face sure doesn't look pretty when it's all fixed on murder. Vic redoubles his efforts, but soon the water is lapping over the tops of his sensible boots.

Panic lends wings to the Sorcerer. Mud stains his front and water splashes up as he wriggles upright to stumble towards the young man. The Nokk has apparently been rightly scared down into the depths for the moment, likely nursing some form of head injury for how hard the man's boot made contact. Cheeks have delicate bone beneath the skin, after all — or maybe it was a shot to the nose. Either way, inky swirls rise to the surface and break, the wisps of teal proof that these Fae can indeed bleed.

"I've got you," Strange breathes frantically even as he locks an arm around Vic's waist and adds his own counter-weight to the Nix's efforts. "Keep fighting!" The creature looks very angry now; those are no longer normal teeth, but the bite-and-rip set belonging to many a predatory fish. Think of a pike, perhaps. The other arm outstretches and this time, the banishment spell snaps into being like a live wire in neon purple around his scarred fingers. Vic can see it extend from behind his body and towards the lake surface. Dad is now chanting as fast as he can under his breath, on repeat, trying so very hard to crisply enunciate the words in his relative panic. Gotta make it through without slurring — if only the spell wasn't so long!!!

|ROLL| Vic +rolls 1d20 for: 12

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 7

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 5

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 5

Offspring live to worry their parents, isn't that just the way? Water laps at Vic's boots, and he digs his heels into the lakeshore more deeply. The Nix has the home field advantage, but Vic is just stronger. Supernaturally so. Slowly, he pulls his arm back, and the Nix is pulled further out of the water. The veins in Vic's brow pop with the effort. The tide is turning, and he even manages to take a step back, hauling the Nix further from the safety of the water.

"Look at him," Vic says with a strained laugh. "He really doesn't want to let go." The gouges in his arm start to heal the moment the Nix shifts his grip to find new flesh to pierce. That doesn't mean the Sorcerer's son isn't bloody from the elbow down.

Dad can't reply to his offspring's commentary, but he does hazard a nod in agreement. That Nix is really pissed off now — maybe it's a thing of predatory pride? The Sorcerer would know about the part regarding ego, at least. It's fighting mightily against being dragged upon land. Pond-water beads off its bared skin, now shown to be leathery-smooth and a pale almost lime-green; he has darker striping across his back and a lighter front, almost as a fish might. No English slips through his bared teeth. It's rabid garbling, where spit foams up at the corners of his mouth. Webbed feet splash everyone over and over again with cold water. Maybe it's the spilled blood dripping down Vic's arm?

"…by Vishanti's might and mine trustee,
Through my will, I banisssSHIT!!!"

Man, that Nokk came back. It's definitely a bloody nose, given the tarry runnel of teal-colored blood from the bruised approximation of what once was there, but she comes flying out once more and locks both hands about one of the man's ankles! A sharp tug and he's brought to one knee, his grip around Vic's waist slipping until he re-locks about the young man's shin. "Let GO!!!" It's harder to kick the Nokk in the face when you're unable to torque like your joints were made of rubber. She hisses in chilling anger at the Sorcerer. No seduction anymore there.

|ROLL| Vic +rolls 1d20 for: 11

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 10

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 9

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 17

Vic has no qualms using Pop's grip on him for leverage, and he heaves, hauling the Nix further up on land. It's a tug-o-war. Slowly but surely, Vic is turning the tide. He gets another step back, and he holds out an unbloodied arm to steady his father when the Nokk gets him by the ankle. "Hold on!" Vic says reflexively.

How did Vic ever think these things were pretty? Fae trickery! The youth has so much to learn still. "Come on, now," he says to the Nix through gritted teeth. "Hold still. You'll be home before you know it."

"OW!" Wrenched tendons in his knee spark like fire and the Sorcerer then bares teeth back at the Nokk bubbling her rage at him. Two can play the primal snarl game. He can feel the solid gripping of dress-shirt taken up by the young man; while it might not save him in the end, it is motivator nonetheless and imparts a shred of belief in safety. Vic can probably tell when the icy sluice of panic is overtaken by the molten rush of rage in his dad. The air around Strange suddenly draws in close and takes on a prickling static that marches on the skin like thousands of charged ants.

"BEGONE!!!" No longer playing nicely, Strange shoves his palm into the middle of the Nokk's face. Her screech begins and climbs the pitch chart until dogs on their evening walks suddenly bark and yelp. Bright light, brighter still than sunlight through iris petals, explodes outwards from his hand and envelops the Fae-creature like a net, and then — she's simply gone after one final near-blinding flash of light. Panting, the silver-templed man gets to his feet and pulls into Vic's weight again. "That's right…try to eat our entrails…at the bottom…of the pond…you slimy bastard," he grits out, eyes now gone flashfire-bright with Mystical power. "You're next."

Cue panicked thrash mode in the Nix. It's no longer holding on to Vic — more like, Vic's the only thing keeping him from escaping back into the depths of the Pond. Its other hand swings around to claw at what parts of Vic can be reached, nails still able to split skin for their edging, blunt or not. Webbed feet can barely feel the water and he seems to be having a harder time breathing now; gills at his neck appear and disappear every now and then. Much foam at the mouth. Most rabid-looking.

|ROLL| Vic +rolls 1d20 for: 13

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 16

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 11

"Got him!" Vic says once he pulls the Nix fully from the water. He holds him aloft so that he can't get his webbed feet back in the water. If it makes Vic look like he's striking a triumphant pose, so be it. The Nix fights to free himself, and in the struggle, Vic gets swatted. His white t-shirt splits open in three long scratches that run chest to belly. The fabric is soon redstained.

"Ow!" Vic says. It's as close as he gets to swearing. He keeps the Nix aloft, though. If he holds it out at arm's length, it'll have a better chance of escaping. So Junior stays the course, even if it means getting raked on a little.

The scent of fresh blood only seems to make the Nix madder still. It swats out again and misses, like as not out of tiring state and lack of proper breathing. These Fae can only breathe for so long when stranded without water. The bubbles at his mouth take on a pearlescent hue; dark eyes are pinpoint-pupiled, though it's impossible to see this. The mint-green skin is muddied and oozing teal in some places from friction lacerations.

"Almost there — hold him!" Strange carefully angles a hand around Vic's ribs again and it's take two for the initial incantation. Again, there he goes, as fast as can clearly be enunciated, and the air takes on that ticklish charging once more. Searing purple light begins to coalesce around the scarred fingers.

|ROLL| Vic +rolls 1d20 for: 4

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 1

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 12

"Okay," Vic says brightly. He holds still while the flailing Nix gets another few scratches in, but they're not doing anything more than ruining his shirt. The poor garment is getting torn to ribbons. Vic himself remains focused, keeping the Nix held firm.

Magic this close to him is… well, it's interesting. Vic feels a tickle up the back of his neck, and he thrums a little with his own energy getting all het up. A few sparks travel over his skin, miniscule ball lightning responding to the change in metaphysical pressure.

"…by Vishanti's might and mine trustee,
Through my will, I banish thee!!!"

Nobody's interrupting the spell this time through. It's a far kinder variation of what ailed the Nokk. Ribbons of violaceous light wrap around the flailing Nix, debased to a state of primitive flight since fight has failed it entirely — the prey simply will not let go, even when it bleeds freely given the staining of the fabric on its body. Its terrified sounds cut short as the light flashes near-blindingly yet again and the sudden lack of something to hold onto sends both Vic and his dad backwards to sprawl on the mud- and water-splattered bank behind them. "OOF!" As quickly as he can manage, despite being splotch-cheeked from rapid spell-slinging and sweated at his temples, Strange gets out from beneath the young man and looks him over. "Hold still, I'll — I'll — a healing spell, I should have enough energy," he says breathlessly, already gathering the incantation to mind and drawing from a soul-font momentarily low. Dangerous business, this. Seems Dad's forgotten that the kiddo heals in his panic.

Vic oofs as he goes tumbling down with his dad. He sits up, and as Strange frets, the youth looks down at himself. "Gosh, that's a bleeder," he says as he traces fingertips over the deepest scratch. Already the other two have stopped bleeding. This one is just persistent. There's always one.

"Dad, it's okay," Vic says, and despite how much the scratches sting, he manages a smile that is arguably comforting. He pats at the bleeding flesh with his t-shirt to hold it closed. "It'll be okay."

His immediate response starts out firmly and then fades out. "Don't try and bullshit me, you're still…" Even as the beginnings of the healing spell sparkles around his hand held before his chest, Strange realizes that indeed: two of the three scratches he saw before have closed up. Memory catches up on the heels of this recognition and he then sits back hard onto his behind. The faint twinkles of sky-high blue disappear from about his fingers.

"…not really bleeding." He laughs once, twice and again, a sharply relieved sound, before sighing heavily. Swiping his palm across his face to remove lingering pond-water only smears war-paint in mud across his skin instead and, for a second, he freezes up as a disconcerted cat might. Then he sacrifices the sleeve of his dress-shirt where it's devoid of muck to get the worst of it off. Not devoid anymore. "That was a gods-damned mess," he grumbles, giving Vic a surgeon's once-over yet again despite proof that the young man's skin is rapidly healing over.

Vic holds his hands back and out of the way when Dad insists he's still…? Yeah, not bleeding so badly now. He glances down at his wound as it stops bleeding entirely, and he smiles sheepishly. "Yeah, that's what happens. It just looks bad." On a normal mortal body, it would be… well, bad. But he's a strapping lad.

Vic strips off the bloodied shirt. It's useless now, hanging in tatters. What little bit is clean is used to wipe at the drying blood on his skin. "We did it," he says, brightly and breathlessly. He doesn't protest the once-over. There are still scratches. They still look angry, but they're knitting up nicely. He won't even have scars.

Vic gets to his feet, cleans up as best he can, then looks at his Dad with a pleased grin. "They're not gonna hurt anyone else." Behold the pride in his expression. Dad is the best.

Looking up at Vic from where he sit-sprawls, the older man then laughs again once. Dimples flash and disappear as hard-earned wisdom smooths out the sparkling flash of prideful joy.

"Yep." He pops the consonant lightly. "That'll do. Gods below…" Eyes slowly returning to their mundane state of non-lambence shift to scan the surface of the Pond again. The water is now flat as glass and back to normal — well, from what the Sorcerer can sense with his currently-heightened senses. Pond muck still darkens a portion of his face on the outside of his left eye and along the same side's line of jaw, but he's no worse for the wear externally. "I'm glad you were there. I expected two to be a relative challenge, but not like this." With a grunt, he gets to his feet and brushes his palms off on his jeans. Not like they're pristine anyhow, covered on all sides with splotches of muddy water. "Whew." Another sigh and he uses the outside of one arm to wipe at a greyed-out temple. "We need to get back to the Sanctum and clean up, have some tea…and sleep." Those faintly-bright eyes linger on the young man and then, another dimple appears. "You did well, Vic."

Vic had a small scratch on his temple, and by now it's gone as if it had never been. He wipes his brow with his forearm and says, "Yeah, they were tough." He's a bit of a mess, himself, but it's all in a night's work. He casts an introspective look at the pond. Then his features soften, and his smile is broad and dimpled. He ducks his head and says, "Thanks, Dad. He was tough, but I just kept thinking 'I need to do this.'"

He wrinkles his nose as his boots squish, and he agrees, "We should probably get cleaned up. I wouldn't mind a nap." Those deep sleeps power his healing and strength. His stomach growls audibly, and he adds sheepishly, "Maybe a snack."

"And you did it. Willpower is incredibly under-rated by some and we're both proof of its efficacy." The Sorcerer nods and gives the Pond one last lingering (if not faintly suspicious) look of consideration.

The stomach growl is loud enough to be heard. Oh look, a second dimple, mild as it is. "We've got some food in the fridge and…if you're lucky, maybe some baklava." One scarred hand rises to gesture open a Gate and then pauses. "…probably not the baklava, your mother might be annoyed at that. I know we have pastries somewhere. I've got a blend of tea that will help replenish your stores of energy as well as let you sleep restfully," he proposes even as he completes the summoning of the oculus upon reality. Beyond, the main floor of the Sanctum and right outside one of the washrooms on this floor — how thoughtful of the man.

"Linens are in the cupboard above the sink. The bottle with the pink fluid is cleanser, for getting the blood off your skin. It'll make the blood inert so it can't be used for any nefarious purposes." He walks through the Gate and waits for Vic to follow before closing it. "I'll go get the tea steeping in the kitchen." That's the entryway down the wall about a dozen feet, glowing with warm light. It's in this direction the Sorcerer walks, muddy boots and pants and all. Apparently, he is allowed to track muck all over his Sanctum.

Vic follows through the Gate. He's known Gates all his life. They're not even strange to him. It's a perspective not many youths get to have. "Ooh, that's a good idea," he says of the soap that makes blood inert. Dad may have the privilege of tromping mud around, but Junior is careful. "I'll just get into the shower," he says. He grabs a towel and steps into the washroom to do just that.

The kid has clothes here, unless they've been gotten rid of. He keeps changes of clothes all over, to be honest. He's tough on clothing, and one never knows when it'll have to be replaced. He would never say as much, but the Sanctum is a place where he keeps things stashed 'just in case.' A holdover from the original Vic's streetwise and paranoia.

It means he has pants on when he emerges clean from the washroom, his curls damp atop his head. He ambles toward the kitchen, cautious as he goes. The Sanctum is not a place to be taken lightly. "Are there pastries?" he asks hopefully.

By the time Vic's done showering and ambling to the kitchen, he'll likely notice a handful of things. One, that the muddy boot-prints on the Sanctum's mosaic-patterned flooring are gone entirely, as if the man never walked there. Two, that the scent of tea in herbal greens and something more pungent hiding beneath citrus and berries lingers in the air like a perfume. And three, that there's a large store-bought muffin hanging out on a plate at the kitchen's island countertop; his name might as well be on it. Seated on one of the stools at the isolated section of countertop is Strange, sipping at his own cup of tea, already steeped and brewed. He nods at the pastry and its accompanying mug of tea, steaming as the drink is.

"Found that in the breadbox. I think your uncle might have stashed it and forgotten about it." His voice is even if not a bit grey with weariness. Slinging spells of magnitude does take the wind out of one's sails. "There's a bit of valerian in the tea to help you rest. You can take one of the beds in the guest bedrooms upstairs, along the second floor balcony. Otherwise, the rest of it is chamomile and citrus with some goldenseal and dandelion."

…wait. How the Sorcerer shower so quickly? And he doesn't have an ounce of mud anywhere on his body, from boot-soles to the dark hair on his head. The fabric of shirt and jeans are dry as as he'd never been near the water.

Must have been magic. He's very fond of scouring spells.

Vic perks up at the sight of the muffin. "Ooh, thanks!" Tea is well and good, but the first things first. He takes a big bite of that muffin, and one would think he'd been starved for a week, the way he all but melts at the flavor of it. He catches the crumbs in his palm, then eats those, too. He's civilized enough he stops there instead of scoffing it down.

Vic takes up his tea and comes over to sit near his dad. He takes as a given that Dad is the magic man, and him being impeccable is accepted. He really has no concept of a non-magical life, only OldVic's memories of his own drab existence. "I told Kellan I might be out all night, so I'll crash upstairs," he says. Then he takes another bite of muffin. It won't last long.

The Sorcerer's nod of understanding is almost more of a disjointed bob of head. "You know where the phone is if you need to call him before you rest," he murmurs before sipping at his tea again. He watches the muffin disappear bite and bite and crumb by crumb with the same one-sided curl of lip, silent in his amusement but for the outward expression.

"Sometimes I miss muffins. Only sometimes." The quiet comment might seem loud in the kitchen. The Sanctum, while old, doesn't creak and groan as an ancient house might. There are some distant sounds, but those are likely either Aralune being her normal self or the wards at work.

Vic grins as he says, quietly, "Yeah, I'm gonna call him." Because Vic is a dippy romantic. But he'll make that call later. For now, he sips his tea and lays waste to the muffin. That boy can eat. And does, a lot. God knows how much of Petropolous' food disappears when he's at work.

"I don't know what I'd do without muffins," Vic says solemnly, between sips of tea. "What's it like not always being hungry?" he asks. "Or do you get hungry sometimes? I don't really understand it."

The Sorcerer's gaze slides from his reflection in dark tea and over to the young man at the question, the subtle motion being the lead for his facial turn as well. Teeth show through the sliver of smile-parted lips.

"What makes you think I'm never hungry…?" He lets Vic think on that for a very short period of time before continuing. "The pursuit of the Mystic Arts has a cost. Always. I don't care what others claim. Misuse or over-use will come back to haunt you, one way or another. Karma is a very real thing. Be wary." A mouthful of his drink and he inhales quietly through his teeth, looking somewhere off into the near-distance now as he speaks. "I have found, over the years, that using the Arts changes me, little by little. Every spell cast, every incantation intoned…reading out of a grimoire and especially when calling upon the gods…I am changed. I am not the man I once was, very literally. The fare of this reality began to not be enough. I was refueling my body, yes, but not my…" He pauses, brows gathering lightly. "The best way I've heard it described is 'soulfont'. My mantle comes with a very real and regular drain upon this. Food from other dimensions has its own nutritional properties, often with more inherent energy than is found here, in this reality. I've a very sophisticated palate," he jokes dryly before taking a huge swig of tea.

Vic nods solemnly when Dad tells him to be wary of magic and its cost. "I just never see you eat," he says, "but I never thought it through. I don't know what I'd do if my palate was that sophisticated." He grins. "I didn't realize it til I was living with the twins for a bit that I eat more than most folks. I guess I just consume a lot of fuel, you know?"

He sips his tea, shoulders slumping as relaxation eases into lounging. "I just pack three lunches if I go out," he says. "Because I'll eat one the second I get where I'm going. Then I'll eat one at lunchtime, then another later in the day because I get peckish." He's got a lot of energy output; the boy needs his carbs.

"You do have the physiological attributes of energy. It makes sense." The man stifles a yawn with one hand and blinks as if to clear his vision. "I'm glad that I don't have to eat much in volume. Between nutritional slurries and the…food from other dimensions, I wake to see the next day. I like to think that the gods humor me and allow me my tea to keep me complacent," he says with a little salute of the mostly-empty mug and a derisive snort at his own joshing.

Shifting on the stool, he sits upright from his lean on the island countertop and stretches out his back. A little wince and he glances over at Vic. "…I think it might be wise to let me tell your mother about our escapade tonight. I can frame it as a walk on the beach rather than…the very real risk of drowning and consequential disembowelment."

Vic grins at Stephen's joshing. "I guess as long as everyone is getting enough of what they need." Which, of course, isn't the case on a broader scale, but here and now? It'll do. "Maybe in the morning I'll go out and grab breakfast and bring it back here." A surprise for Mother, perhaps? He polishes off the muffin.

As he licks crumbs from his lips, Vic nods emphatically. He'll let Dad explain what happened tonight to Mom. "There's no need to worry her unnecessarily," he says. "Not when everything worked out just fine." His shirt hides the scratches, which will be gone in no time at all anyway.

"She'll ask after me, not you." He glances over at the young man with a wry half-smirk. "I'm doomed to sleep hard and she knows that I've been up to something when this happens. It's inevitable that she'll ask and lying gets you nowhere in the end. It's not that she doesn't love you. It's that…I'm her «Beloved». Soulmate." A little shrug makes it no less true. He finishes his tea and gets up to place the mug in the kitchen's shined steel sink.

"She'd look kindly upon more muffins in this kitchen. Her predilection for sweets rivals that of hummingbirds sometimes. You should see how much honey she stirs into her tea. My teeth tingle thinking about it." Strange wrinkles his nose, but there's not an ounce of ire in his words. "Too much sugar for me."

Vic nods solemnly as he listens. "I understand," he says gravely. "I'll let you handle it." Yeah, let Dad wear that big red target that says 'Soulmate' on it. "Besides, you know me, I'll crack like an egg, and I don't know how to put things the way you do." He is a bit of a golden retriever when it comes to guile. Where he got that from is anyone's guess.

Vic's solemnity melts away into a smile when his mother's sweet tooth is mentioned. Now that he comes by honestly. "I'll pick up some muffins, maybe some maple bars too if I can find any." Anything to put a smile on Mom's face.

"She'd probably love maple bars. There's a bakery down the street. You take a right out the front doors and go past the light. It's the one with the green awning." Then comes another yawn and Strange shakes his head as if attempting to wake himself up. "Alright, that's it. I'm calling it. We're dead to the world as of — " He glances to the nearest clock and continues in his vein of dark surgical humor. "11:32pm. Bedroom's upstairs and you can sleep as long as you'd like. I recommend shutting the door firmly. Aralune likes to walk all over people when they're dreaming in case of nightmares and her claws hurt." Understatement of the day, that. Tell them about the Fae hallucinations, Stephen!

The rest of the dishes are placed in the kitchen sink to dealt with on the 'morrow and with a tired but gently insistent manner, the Sorcerer herds the Mote in human guise to the guest bedroom before slowly walking upstairs another level still to the Loft. He still manages a shower, but definitely appreciates collapsing into bed. Not much longer after burrowing beneath the covers, the first snore is heard.

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