1965-10-07 - The Courting of Stephen Strange
Summary: Involving rocks and LSD.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
wanda strange 

It's a dragonfly in the way a bus is a mere vehicle. Huge lacy wings flash in the air for someone the size of a trumpet, at least. Iridescent scales shimmer like jewels, antennae flailing around in the air. For all the dragonflies are carnivorous in the normal realm, not everyone in alternate dimensions may be. Not its fault that it happens to bear red wings and a distorted pattern that resembles a certain cloak's diamond pattern lining. Not its fault all the mana-heavy fruit in the area it likes to bounce and bob about on are psychotropic.

Not its fault that something else can turn faster than it can. It flies in wild, drunken lines.

Enter Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme, in the fourteenth dimension.

— and unamused to boot. The ferocious glower known to send the apprentices of Kamar Taj to scattering like frightened chickens is something he wears easily now, standing as he is with arms crossed on a rather large and variegated leaf local to the dimension.

"Hassling the local wildlife is not what we came to do!" This he shouts at the errant crimson Cloak in hot pursuit of the giant dragonfly. "We came to collect fruit nectar for ingredients!!! Get back here!" He doesn't blend into anything in his Master-blues here, but at least he's not caught the eyes of any other local wildlife. Yet.

Ferocious chicken glowering goes only so far. Wanda clings to the branch she finds herself upon or on, as the case may be, is a misnomer. Stuck to, more apt. Green slick sap runs over her leathers and sticks her to the tree's bark like so much putty. Her eyes are burning through narrow slivers due to the squint that is necessary if she prefers not to be, you know, blinded by said waves of sticky ooze running down her face. Clearly her wrinkled nose is something judgmental about the tree, since the foliage is already starting to smoke around her.

The fallen fruit is on the ground, fallen in twain. Its juices make a small kiddie pool for someone to splash around in. Not the likes of the Winter Soldier, imagining his arm would be all gummed up. But surely someone.

"I hate this place," she splutters.

"I'm very close to holding the same opinion, «Beloved»," says the silver-templed man even as he gives the drunken Cloak one last squint before turning on the leaf. For now, it seems to be up to nothing but harmless hallucinogenic antics courtesy of a little splotch of fruit-nectar on its hem. Imagine if it had soaked through and touched the skin of the Sorcerer — eep. He carefully balances with arms outstretched as he walks up the center vein of the large leaf, attempting to make his way over to the Witch and offer her, at the very least, a helping hand. He eyes the crisping leaves and winces a little, very sympathetic to her emotions. "We won't linger much longer, I promise. Here, if you can unpeel your hand, take mine," he says as he crouches balanced on the branch, extending aforementioned limb with scarred lines towards her.

Hatred in the witch's eyes may be too strong a description. Disgust, irritation for looking like something vomited up from a rainbow space-worm from the Cancerverse — these are ill tidings for someone whose magic reflects her emotional state. Nothing too terrible there, except the psychotropic nectar is probably also in the sap, and a high witch whose magic reflects her emotional state is one concern.

Now add in the welterweight of being a reality-warper and the problems grow substantially noisier on the skull, though technically it's another dimension, isn't it? Or the same onion-skin of their reality, meaning it's hers. "It smells like a chemist." She means pharmacy but Eastern Europe is Eastern Europe. Her nose wrinkles as she scratches at the stickiness in her hair, pulling it away while he offers his hand. Green sap on her fingers makes an oozy mess. He sure about that? Stephen might want to consider. "Pfeh! Tastes like Pietro's sock."

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 13

The Witch, apparently not a huge fan of her sappy bath, does earn herself a short snort of a stifled laugh from Stephen. "I don't know how you understand what Pietro's socks taste like — a dare from childhood?" he asks even as he extends his hand another inch yet. As tendons strain to stretch and he readjusts his balance…it wavers. A little 'whoop' of sound on his part and he crouches down lower now, doing an amazingly Sorcerous imitation of a certain web-sporting wallclimber. He reaches out yet again, his smile a thing half-twisted in concentration. "«Beloved», here, I'll help pull you free."

And where in the hell is that daft Cloak? Still whiffling after the wildlife, utterly twitterpated?

The Cloak is probably spinning around in circles. The desperate dragonfly dodges into a fat trumpetflower where the cloak might end up slurping up honey and nectar or whatever passes for going on a rush of ecstatic joy before limply wringing itself out in the morning, cotton-hemmed and embarrassed, and shuffling back to a hook.

"When very hungry, we had no cup to get water," the witch mutters. "His sock and boot we used, had our drink. It worked in the river." Her hand reaches out for him that he seems to be taunting her with. Pulling him over or pulling herself down doesn't seem to be wholly wise, since the leaf structure turns skeletal under them as she turns all the more loopy. Wide eyes like a squirrel rimmed in amaranth rather than amber. Ye gods, run.

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 15

"I cannot believe you drank from a boot," mutters Strange, making a quick disgusted face. Apparently, he's never had to do such a thing in his life — count his lucky stars indeed. A sharp hiss slips from his bared teeth as his balance becomes a very important thing, given how the lobes of leaf matter disappear beneath their feet. It's not quite the dramatic rocking back and forth of a line-rope dancer under duress, but the leaf's vein, no wider than a third of his boot sole, does begin to shift back and forth.

Oh yes, he's noted the shift in hues towards violaceous than sun-kissed doubloons. Even as he utilizes both limbs now to keep aright, he speaks. So sorry, no hand after all, must not go splat, there's an erstwhile Claok not paying half an iota of attention to the issue at hand.

"«Beloved», perhaps it would be best if you attempt to will yourself free of the sap?" he suggests very calmly, as if talking to someone standing far too close to a ledge.

He's a boy of the farm and the farmstead rich in food and wealth. Has he ever known hardship? Broken hands and the privations of Kamar Taj inspired the spirit, they did not whittle away at the belly or leave someone starving like a peasant in the fields. The great famines of Russia in her Soviet face ripped through the Forties, and ushering in the Fifties again on a crusade of want will always speak in the bones and veins and skulls of the twins. It cannot be divorved from them.

Even when totally sticky, covered in muck. She isn't quite separated from the bark, slurp-gushy sap like treacle. Her nose flares and her lips thin as though she prepares to do terrible things. No more hugging a tree. Of course, to let go of the tree means to threaten a freefall — except that the sap clings her to it like a bug, or a dinner for something that eats bugs.

"Rock," she gurgles.

No rocks here.

That big shadow…?

A rock? Strange frowns at his increasingly more enebriated fiancee in concern. Where a rock? But that shadow…? Oh gods below, that's a BIG shadow — and the realization at its size comes with a quick turn-about on the relative branch, his arms flailing even as he tries to regain his balance.

"Seven hells!!!" he spits, risking a few steps backwards and towards the main truck of the giant, disastrous, practitioner-trapping free. That is a big beak — and big beady eyes — and he is decidedly not the size of a jumbo jet airliner. Even as he's wavering about on the branch, he's calling up the dualed mandala shieldings in bright ember-sparks of defense upon reality proper. "«Beloved», will yourself away!"

There's clearly no rock in the trees or shiny pretty that the inebriated Cloak brings back. Fruit the sizes of three men's fists hanging on vines, huge bubbling sources of powerful nectar and fat mounds that beg for equally big beaks to stick in them. But the roc is a bird on high, pink face and huge black on white wings beating away at wings comparatively small on a tree-like scale. But those legs are disproportionately long. Orange feet lead to scaly yellow-white legs that look like they belong to Twiggy the Model and Gumby's love-child. Enlisting the help of some amusingly powerful legs means it's not flying at Strange or his cloak…. but LEAPING.

Seven hells and back again. The huge jumbo-bird with its graciously long tailfeathers and ridiculously tall crown comes stamping through, tippy-tapping the ground hard enough to make the dirt jump and puddles drain sideways. And then it leaps.

It leaps right for the mandalas where its deafening chippy-cheeps are the equivalent of a jet engine going off.


|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d20 for: 8

This Sorcerer is not built to take the impact of a large hybrid bird-monster intent on peck-pecking him for whatever birdy reason crossed its birdy brain. Another wide-eyed stare as the thing approaches and adrenaline slows things down appreciably. The brain does play with time whether this is considered or not. He ducks and straightens only to duck again and then attempt to utilize the springiness of the underlying leaf vein to his advantage. Boing! He aims for the next leaf over.

And Stephen has just recreated the 8-bit scroller, himself on the run from a very interested party far too interested in him. Maybe he can distract it while Wanda frees herself? Or maybe he'll be punted ignominously like an unlucky field mouse caught atop a daisy by those long, long legs.

The dance of the mighty widow-secretary-roc is not to be denied. A happy flailing bit of wingery and the spring hop soars high into the air. The bird lands down and much feathery commotion resolves to more stamping. Stamping on the roots, stamping on the fruits, stamping all around. It dips its great head to eyeball the fiery orbs about the size of its curvy beak. Its eyes shine with their eldritch ringed flame.


Hopeful dancing follows as it tippytaps all over the place, coming in a resurgent hopbounce after Stephen, anticipating the small burn of light-sheen means something. Signals perhaps a ripeness of fruit, or a time for partying to begin.

The irritated witch smacks her hand — covered in sap — against the tree, and the bark turns to brick, bricks to mud, and distortions ripple all over her. Is that the Berlin Wall? Yes. Half the tree is graffiti smeared on the East German face of it.

"Wanda?!" Her name, not the loving nickname this time around. "Wanda! If you can hear me, turn this thing into a - a - something smaller! Anything smaller!" He lands on a nearby intact leaf and the mandalas break into glittering fragments that die away even as he has to scrabble and keep himself from sliding from its waxy surface by sheer stubborn effort alone. He gasps and stares at the approach of the very happy, bouncy bird. "Shitshitshitshit — " It's one long string of profanities as he scrambles to the thicker vein of this leaf and bounces up and away again. "CLOAK YOU USELESS OUTERWEAR, GET OVER HERE RIGHT NOW!"

The Sorcerer probably sounds like a very angry fieldmouse indeed to the widow-secretary-roc.

A something smaller? The use of her name snaps the witch's head around and the weak amber-glow of her eyes is gone gone gone, plunged away into the register of smashed blackberries and plums lit by the sun. Her nose wrinkles under the plastered mask on her features, her hair greenish and the emerald concoction sliding past the crevasses and gaps of her armoured corset, her leggings dripping, her boots oozing. The anger is too ambitious for her, too hard to parse out through her take on psychedelics. She would stumble back from the wall awash in graffiti except the risk means dropping down onto her backside, swinging a confused look around for the watchtower, the guns, the inevitable spotlight.

«Doctor? Pietro! This isn't the right place at all.» Transian. It cracks and slurs off the tongue. «Stay away from the Spree. They shoot if you go into it, forget that — why — it's bleeding jam. All the jam.»

The roc doesn't seem overtly hostile, as it keeps up its manic dance and demonstration. Fred Astair wishes he could shake the earth so brilliantly as those three-toed feet.

Hearing Transian is an oddity in this place and time. As Stephen attempts to back up slowly along the branch, mindful of where the oozy bark begins behind him, he watches the bird with irises gone to frosted-lilac. His inherent power curls around him like a phantasmal snake, all prickly energy and potential held reigned in with white knuckles of mental control. Where is that Cloak?!

…but…wait, what? The bird isn't continuing after him further, just…looking like a spastic feathered attempt at the Cha Cha Slide after seven shots. Is this…wait. It can't be. He straightens in place, looking positively thunderous. "I am NOT someone you court, bird!" he shouts indignantly. "I have a mate," and he points at the Witch yelling something about a Spree. A Spree? And jam. Something about her brother was yelled too, but he's not sure.

The roc is totally courting him. That it took the Sorcerer Supreme this long to figure it out is purely a matter of speculation that Agamotto refuses to acknowledge from his place in the sky, doubly because the hysterical laughter from Hoggoth is likely drowning the Vishanti divine link.

But it struts forward about a quarter mile and leaps three times in quick succession to show off its prowess. It's a young one, probably, or very old and very bored with its current partners if it wants to date a fine young firework like Stephen Rogers Strange. Crown feathers flatten and rise, shivery. Beak in the air, it twirls and hoppity-hops. The Cloak may just be sailing around on a dragonfly at this point.

The witch isn't with it. Nope, not at all. She shivers and flattens back to the Wall-tree, except half that tree has melted to the ground much, much lower to stamping feet and the street around her made of leaves and roughage looks like a blown up street. Her wide eyes tracking the shadows are wild; the fears aren't wholly baseless as she's a Roman candle of chaos. «A… crane?»

Something like a crane, yes, «Beloved», Strange confirms back along that ephemeral thought-link they share. It dances to court me. Why, I have no earthly idea. Like as not because it is -not- of Earth.

"I am NOT interested!" The man's words travel well, given their stentorian depth and projection. "Not! Interested!" Perhaps if he pretends to ignore the bird entirely, it'll go away? After all, this encounter has required no Mystical firepower and he's not going to go about attempt to dissuade it with force. He half-turns his back on the creature, though he leaves a good amount of attention in peripheral on the thing, just in case. «Beloved», just stay where you are. As soon as it ceases, we are leaving. I will return for the Cloak later if it chooses to continue haring after the local wildlife.

Headcock. Beak clack. Blink-blink of the eye. Unimpressed by stamping? This warrants a momentary regard of Strange. It hunches down on its long, long Gumby legs and stares, at least in that bird-brained way, a huge mountain trying to pretend at a modest hill of flowers. Never mind that its ruffled fringe of feathers pokes up and down, fanned in waves.

Then it pops its head down, and smartly fluffs its sharp feathers. The tail plumes snap open and shut like a fan, and it pops its head up and down, smoooooothly sliding forward. Shuffle-shuffle, and it pops up, starting to partly flap its wings in a way that overlaps the front of its body with the air of utter avian mystery. The mystery of LOVE.

The fucking thing is doing a flamenco fan dance crossed with the lambada and a bit of Chinatown-esque Michael Jackson at the same time.

Meanwhile, the witch has more than likely gone into a total high, given the bleeding colours making a mess of the forest. Not her fault that it's all leaking out like that.

The abrupt opening of the tail feathers is enough to make Strange flinch and glance over at the large stamping, gyrating, Latin-dancing bird. He comes to a conclusion shortly afterwards after a careful lean to look down to ascertain Wanda's state. Jumbled static along their mental link is incredibly worrying to him.

Clearing his throat, he then gives the giant roc a look of incredibly strained politeness. "I really must be going. Your insinuations are flattering, but I am not interested. If you'll excuse me." Then, before himself, he draws up a Gate. It opens up down on the ground, before the Witch, and through it he steps, totally using one of those multi-button-smash cheat codes. Up down up down A B A Select Start?

Regardless, he attempts to stick the Witch to his side (literally?) and keep an arm about her even as he goes to put fingers between his lips. A sharp and carrying whistle, meant for the Cloak, reaches out into the air in the immediate area.

Wait, where did human d'amor go? Where are the shinies? Has anyone ever stuck their foot through a gate and does it spontaneously try to /eat/ it?

Only one way to know. The dazed, high witch runs no risk other than staring up at Strange with fixed, belladonna-wide eyes and the occasional Transian murmur out of her. Yes, she's high as a goddamn kite and sticky with the sap responsible, which means she'll probably stay that way until the efficacy fails or all the goo turns into Aquaman's next hair pomade.

Thankfully, the quick projection of large bird foot misses both humans before retracting away again. No bird leg is lost. Strange, however, gives the creature an incredulous look.

"Yes, I think we're leaving. Post-haste," he mutters to Wanda, hoping she's cognizant enough to realize that it's her fiance holding her and not some multi-tenticled creature from the Pits of Blargarux. And there is the erstwhile relic, zipping down most happily towards its master upon hearing that summoning whistle. Goodbye, dancing bird! You will be remembered fondly. With relic on his shoulders and Witch stuck to his side, he opens one last Gate into the Loft of the Sanctum. Perhaps they'll return another time, more wise as to the inclinations of the giant creatures of the realm and not getting nearly as high.

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