1965-08-21 - Far From Pure
Summary: Arlo meets a unicorn, not to mention the Sorcerer Supreme.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
strange arlo 

It's nighttime, and Arlo is not out at the clubs living the life. He's walking through the park instead, taking the long way between point A and point B. There are strange sounds in the park tonight, hoofbeats that don't belong to any horse he's ever heard. It's some distant thing, one noise among so many the city's bombarding him with. It's gentler for him, in the park. His senses aren't assaulted quite so terribly.

He keeps his ears perked, though. He's not armed with anything other than his fists and his tenacity, so he listens for danger, his eyes sharp to sort through the shadows, just in case anything is lurking in them.

The sound of distant hooves hitting turf gain strength with each passing second. They're not loud and heavy, so nothing extremely large — they're not on the path proper, but rather coming from within the small stand of trees nearby. A flash — silvery-pale with a bannering mane, eye-catching glint of crystalline horn — followed by something much darker and yet equally swift, a flutter of crimson.

From out of the greenery appears: yep, Arlo's eyes aren't deceiving him, that's an honest-to-god unicorn. Spindly-legged and daintier than a doe, the creature continues its reaching stride for another second before turning on a dime. It rears it, crying out in a glass-shattering whinny. Its pursuer appears to be the yang to its ying, a black unicorn with doubled horns and lambent orange eyes. The Nightmare is pulled up short by its rider and he shouts before pointing a directory hand at the unicorn.

"I told you to stay out of this Park!" The unicorn whinnies again and turns in place, its ears laid back. The man astride the black mount glares. It's none other than the Sorcerer Supreme, in his crimson Cloak and mantle-blues, riding without a saddle and no visible reins. No one appears to have noticed Arlo — yet.

Arlo stops, hands in his jacket pockets, his eyes wide. That's a flippin' unicorn. He stands very still, afraid he might spook it and it'll flee. And then? Then! There are two unicorns. Or one with two horns. A twonicorn. With a guy on its back. Arlo's brow furrows, and he steps forward.

"Hey, pal," he says, "leave it alone. It's not doing anything wrong." So much for staying hidden. But if there's a pure beast of purity and some dour guy on a twonicorn harassing it, who's he going to support?

The sudden voice nearby is enough to cause a ruffling in the small gathering of supernatural.

The unicorn shies to one side, purest blue eyes finding Arlo and staring; it stills with one delicate leg uplifted in uncertainty. The Nightmare looks too, but with no kindness. It makes a snapping lunge at the young man and flashes teeth that should not be found in the mouth of any horse-like creature. The mouth slams shut like a gunshot short of Arlo. The man astride it pulls up sharply on the invisible reins and the bicorn lets out a brassy shriek of frustration.

"Gods-dammit, calm down!" He brings the creature back a few stomping steps and it does, but those fiery eyes never lose focus on Arlo. "It's endangering itself and I will not allow that," he fires back at the newcomer. "I don't expect you to understand."

Arlo draws back at the snapping, and he glowers at the beast. "Hey," he says. Then he points at it, shaking his finger. "Don't." He backs up some, because he's not willing ot tempt fate too much. Still, he's a New Yorker, and he's walking here!

His gaze flits to Strange. "Oh, and I suppose you're going to fix it?" he says. "You better hurry, because there's two people coming from that direction." He points in one direction. "Three from there," he points another direction, "and five drunk frat boys from there." He nods behind Strange, adding, "And a cop wondering what the ruckus is."

The silver-templed man in his crimson Cloak gives Arlo a look from on high that is equal parts dubious and dismissive.

"They are not of my concern nor will they be in the near future. For now, you — " and he points at the unicorn, causing it to look at him with big and innocent blue eyes. " — need to get back to the glen. Right now." The pristine-white creature bells at him again, ears back. "I don't care." Another shorter sound, still fine and hair-rising in its clarity. "I sincerely - don't - care. It's for your safety." The creature stomps one delicate cloven hoof and it sounds like touching upon a crystal wine glass. The Nightmare snorts and instead of whinnying, makes a growling sound. "I didn't ask you, hush," says the man to his mount, which sidles in bad temper.

"Yeah? You may not care about them but I do," Arlo says. "Even the cop. Whatever this is," He gestures around at the bicorn, the unciorn, and Strange himself, "It don't belong here but they do. He bristles, the lone mortal planting his feet, willing to make this his fight. Like he thinks these converging strangers might become colateral damage, but not on his watch.

"Helicopter." He says, then looks up. Sure enough, soon the telltale fwipfwipfwip of a helicopter can be heard, and its spotlight shines down. "Arlo covers his eyes with his forearm, crying out. He'd heard off a police radio in a passing car there was a search for a burglar, though it doesn't seem worth bringing up just now. He kind of hopes it's Ambrose, kinda doesn't.

The unicorn freezes in place like a deer in headlights. The Nightmare winces and shrieks and bucks itself out of the immediate spotlight.

"Gods—DAMMIT!" Whomever this man is, he keeps his seat like he's worked with horses for many a year when younger. He then holds out a hand that suddenly glows about itsand the air within the immediate twenty foot radius surrounding himself goes tight and prickly. He shouts something in words that have a resonance to hum in bones and warp the reality around them. Ears pop — and then there's a weird…half-shift of the world around then. Where did they go?

Nowhere. An illusory charm has fallen around them, lighter than eider-down and yet more visually-fooling than the best Vegas trick. Eat your heart out, Penn and Teller.

"Look, kid," says the man as he moves the Nightmare back towards the unicorn again. "You've got it wrong. I care about them. I care more that they remain sane." He looks up at the police chopper's spotlight, gone hazy and odd and refracted, and frowns. "Move on already. Seven hells."

Arlo lifts his head from his arm, then looks up. His quick eyes search, seeing the spotlight gone hazy, and then he looks around at the illusion wherein he's standing. "Who are you?" he says. He lifts his chin. He's still sane! So… so yeah! He's also smart enough to place himself well out of biting and stomping reach in these close quarters. He's got a good eye for just how far that is, too.

"There's a burglar," he says. "Robbed a house on the Upper East Side, some diplomat's place. He must've gotten this far, so far." He then gestures vaguely and explains, "I heard it on a radio. I'm not psychic."

The unicorn really does seem frozen in place by this spotlight, almost mesmerized by it, and disinclined to travel away from them. It merely keeps staring in almost stunned fascination. The Nightmare shuffles out of the immediate shine of the light and hatefully glares at it, snorting out what appears to be…inky smoke.

"I wouldn't have judged if you were. You're not the weirdest thing I've encountered today, much less in the last two hours. A burglar, though?" The tall man turns in his seat to squint beyond the boundary of the charm. "He'd best not try the Sanctum," he says, almost to himself. Back to Arlo he turns and considers him from his seat. "Stephen Strange, Sorcerer Supreme of Earth. This…is not my normal pasttime, but the particular unicorn is a pain in my ass." The creature doesn't even pay attention to the acidic words thrown at it; it merely keeps turning its head and staring at the spotlight. Ooh, shiny.

Arlo arches an eyebrow at Strange. "I'm the least weird thing in this clearing," he points out. "Yeesh, it's a weird day when I'm the normal one. Look…" He tilts his ear, following the thrum of the helicopter as it scans the area. He can hear it, even with everything muted. "I'm Arlo Avery. You sound real important. I'm just a kid from the Upper West Side." Who has fallen down on his luck to take in the second-hand state of his clothes and the shaggy length of his hair.

"You'd better keep your Sanctum secure, though. You don't know who's out there and what they're willing to do. Me, I just con people. Nice-like, face to face. Some bastards will steal from you behind your back." His gaze tracks the unicorn, and his lips twitch at a smile. Aw, it likes shiny things.

"I'm not concerned about the Sanctum. I'll be more concerned about what it does to anyone who tries. Well then, Mister Avery…" Strange considers the young man. His irises are still faintly a-glow with the use of the Arts, shifting them to something more akin to frosted-lilac. "…con-artist who steals face to face rather than when eyes are averted. Hopefully you're intelligent enough to find something better to do with your life than fleece people out of money. There's no good ending to such a hobby. Still." He then nods towards the unicorn. "Do me a favor and step over towards it. I'll be certain if you're able to assist me by its reaction."

The Nightmare continues watching Arlo like a hungry crow watches a lone potato chip.

Under consideration, Arlo is whipcord lean and he's got the canny look in his eye of someone who lost the luxury if innocence a long time ago. So young, too. What is he, twenty at the oldest? He may not be openly hostile, but he's no trusting youth, either. Strange, unicorn, bicorn, and surrounding illusion are all taken in and cataloged with care, those sharp dark eyes not missing much. He doesn't make eye contact with the Nightmare. Maybe somewhere he's learned that that kind of thing provokes a predator. Neither does he try to run. Running is an invitation to chase.

"Yeah, I know I don't have any kind of shelf-life. I can't work a job, though. I keep getting fired when I don't turn up. I don't turn up because I get…" How does he put this? Not sick per se. "My sense get too jacked up and I can't do anything but lie in a dark room. They don't pay you for that." He's awfully detached about the explanation. It's no longer a complaint; it's just the way it is.

Eyeing the unicorn, Arlo takes a step toward it, though he warns, "I'm fucking an archangel. That's got to be, like, the polar opposite of purity." Sure enough, he does not scan as a virgin.

Strange sighs and actually puts his face in his scarred hand briefly to massage at his temples.

"Then…never I mind," he mutters, apparently not taken aback at all to hear the state of things for the young man. To prove the kid's point clearer yet, the unicorn glances over at him and then side-steps, its ears back. It whinnies softly and gives its best glare — which is kind of like being glared at by a baby bunny. To take it seriously or not? Call hangs on that crystalline horn, a foot-long spiral of translucent beauty. "Alright, thank you, Mister Avery, take a step back. I need it to stay nearby, one way or another."

The archangel might explain why Arlo's keeping his wits about him in the face of all this. Once one has been visited by divine being, unicorns are the next logical step. Arlo can't help but grin at the unicorn, looking all glowery and adorable, but he backs off, holding up his hands. See? It's all good. The bad man isn't going to get any closer.

"Sorry," he says. "I almost didn't say anything, but you're a grown-ass man chasing after a unicorn. You don't get to judge me being queer." Such language! It's one of those things where if he doesn't own it, he'll run from it, and there's nowhere left to go.

"I don't care about your sexual inclinations. It's the fact of you not being a virgin that is of no help to me," Strange explains evenly to Arlo. His attention then shifts to the unicorn.

"Now then, Fair One, honestly — haven't you had enough ruckus for today? The Tai-Chi group you search for has gone home for the night. Back to your glen now, yes?" He's trying so very hard not to sound frustrated with the beautiful creature, for even the hardened heart of the Sorcerer Supreme cannot remain stalwart against it. The unicorn seems undecided given the swish of its tail and sideway look of uncertainty. That Nightmare?

Arlo is still an hors d'oeuvre if he gets close enough. A black tongue slips to work at the side of its mouth as it keeps staring.

Arlo spreads his hands and says, "Well, if I knew I was supposed to be hanging onto it for some reason, I might've waited." In his periphery, the Nightmare. Oh no, he's not getting close enough. It's not much of a life, but damn it, it's his, and he's not giving it up to be some creature's lunch.

"Don't you look at me like that," he tells the Nightmare as he steps further away. "I will give you indigestion out of spite."

The Nightmare's rider chuckles and reaches up to tweak the end of its ear lightly. It startles and tosses its head and seems almost abashed for a second. "She won't eat you. Not while I'm astride. Otherwise…yes, you wouldn't get far, but you'd probably give her acid reflux," he agrees. He glances over as one of the collars of the Cloak wiggles and rolls his eyes. "I know, I know, schedule, yes. Fair One." The unicorn perks its ears. "Respectfully, I must ask that you return to your glen, for your safety. You've already been seen by someone else than myself and I know you did not intend this."

The unicorn turns to face Arlo and tilts its head before shaking out its mane. A nod and it begins to walk in his general direction.

Arlo squints at the Cloak as it moves of its own accord. He glances to Strange next, as if to say really? Magical clothing, too? He has to be glib. It's either that or realize the enormity of what's going on in its fullness and curl up in a ball, and he's got an image to maintain. Freaking out happens later, behind closed doors.

"So what do you do when you're not being Mythology's zookeeper?" he asks. He holds still, letting the unicorn approach without hassle, though he shifts on his feet like he might run if it decides his lack of purity needs punished.

"I protect Earth's reality from interlopers and would-be tyrants, both internally and externally." Strange watches the unicorn carefully as well. It simply curves its path around Arlo and gives him a friendly if cautious glance as it walks by. Each little step of its hooves on the path now resounds like velvet-muffled handbells. "Sometimes, however, more beneficent things slip through the veils and I needs must make sure they do not accidentally shift the Fate of the world around us."

He gently maneuvers the Nightmare into a slow walk paced behind the unicorn and once certain that the creature is going to behave, he glances over his shoulder. "You can stay where you are and leave the confines of the illusion or follow. It is your decision, Mister Avery."

"Needs must?" Arlo says. He smiles at the unicorn, and there's a sweetness in that smile that few two-legged beings get to enjoy. "How could a unicorn shift Fate?" he asks as he watches the creature. He shoves his hands in his pockets again and gives the two beasts and Wizard their space.

"Thanks," he says. "I might stay awhile. It's quiet in here. This place is the city that never shuts up, you know?"

"In a way…you've answered your own question." Strange gently pulls up on the invisible reins. The Nightmare listens without much fuss this time, apparently inclined to calm and arousal to the same degree as its environment around it. "The city never shuts up. Imagine what hunt would begin if a unicorn was reported running about Central Park. Not only that, but…if it were true and not some delusion of whatever drugs are being passed out upon the streets. It begins in innocence, with pictures, and it may end in murder…and then a curse which never leaves the one who killed and is passed down the family line, and then, I almost guarantee you, the murderer would seek out more magic in order to defeat magic and…" He just shakes his head. "It'd be a fiasco, to say the least."

He pauses and then adds, "The charm is centered upon myself, you see, Mister Avery. It won't be quiet for much longer. I do need to escort the unicorn back."

Arlo nods as he listens. Yeah, this all makes sense to him. "So you nip it in the bud," he says. "I think the fewer curses there are going around, the better. Especially the hereditary kind. I mean the murderer would have it coming, but his kids?" He shakes his head. "No, you do what you gotta do." It's okay, Strange, some kid from the Upper West Side has given permission.

He wrinkles his nose when Strange says the charm comes with him. "Ah, well. It was nice while it lasted. Nice to meet you, I guess. Thanks for not letting your horse-thing eat me."

The Sorcerer curls a small smirk. "You're welcome, Mister Avery. It was nice to meet you as well. Reconsider your current career path though, hmm? That particular one seems to end in misery, one way or another." He tilts his head, squinting at Arlo briefly. "You're not going to go about telling anyone that you've seen a unicorn, are you…?"

The creature has apparently paused to listen in on this conversation, its head swung about and ears pricked.

"The moment I find honest work that lasts longer than a couple weeks," Arlo says, "I will be a changed man." He doesn't sound like he's expecting this to happen, but hey, he just saw a flippin' unicorn. Nothing surprises him anymore. As far as things making him jaded, this is perhaps the kindest.

Holding up his hands, he says, "I don't know anyone," he says, "except an archangel. The only reason I'm telling you about him is he's an archangel; what are you gonna do? So no, the only one I might mention the mythological beast to is the one most likely to say 'yeah, and?'"

The man laughs, the tone warm if moderately dry. "Yes…I try not to go toe-to-toe with archangels. No easy clean-up afterwards." He grins to break the formally-groomed lines of his goatee. "Tell him then. He won't be impressed, I agree. Perhaps ask him for coaching in career paths, depending on whom he is. I suppose they have their individual preferences."

He shrugs and then turns the Nightmare once in place as if putting her to paces will keep her from side-stepping further. "Good night then, Mister Avery. Go well." He then turns the ink-black horse with sabre-fangs back to follow behind the unicorn. Once the movement of the illusory charm washes away as it follows with him, the sounds and sights of the Park around become crystal-clear again and almost shockingly loud in comparison to the sleek muffling of earlier. The man in the crimson Cloak is nowhere to be seen. Maybe it was all just a dream?

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License