1964 - 06 - 07 - First steps
Summary: The Sorcerer Supreme instructs the Shadow…and calls up a new aspect of dark magic.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
strange lamont 

So, he's come for lessons…..and, when they get past the initial pleasantries and to the Practice Room proper, he's changed from his usual suit, to loose pants and a singlet. It's probably the first time Strange's seen anything other than his face and hands in terms of exposed skin…..and having his arms and more of his throat bared make it clear he's been to the wars in earnest. There're the defensive scars of a knife fighter on his arms, at least one bullet wound tucked neatly under a collarbone, and other marks here and there. Even if they don't do anything but meditate this first time, best to get in the habit.

The Sorcerer himself wears the battle-leathers of his mantle, storm-blue tunic and all, though he goes without boots, interestingly enough. He fidgets with one of the wrist-wrappings as he looks Lamont over, head to toe and back and nods wordlessly. Once the length is affixed, he speaks quietly, his gaze lingering a little longer on the stabilizing fabric.

"You know, I did some research, Cranston. You have an interesting history…what I could find of it. It makes an inordinate amount of sense given your home and the basement…in particular. I can draw some conclusions, but…your privacy is your own." Those flinty eyes rest upon him now. "I expect you to respect my wishes that nothing influences your decisions here beyond your base human instincts." Here… Sanctum? New York? This reality? "However, your Fate is your own. Should you choose otherwise, be aware that it is my job to mitigate issues. Are we clear?"

He must mean the Sanctum, for the icy swish of the silvery guardian spells dances past Lamont's neck before becoming visually apparant as they swirl about their master once. Their stardust eddies then melt away into the ceiling of the practice room.

He's expressionless, as he so often is, gazing at the Sorcerer with those pale gray eyes. What a different creature he must be in company with his Relic. "Not really," he says, after a moment. No reason to pretend, with Strange. "What did you find? And if you have questions, you may ask them of me."

"I found enough to keep me interested in researching more, Cranston. However, that's a discussion for another time." What a jerk. "You came for lessons. Ask and ye shall receive," quips Strange with a wry grin. He steps fluidly across the padded floor to stand across from Lamont. "So. Offensive spells. You wish to protect Lindon. A righteous stance, to be sure, but you need to protect yourself first. A shotgun is no use to anyone if broken. We start with defensive warding. Once you have a good grasp of it, we'll move on to warding another construct. Do you any questions of me?" The Sorcerer folds his arms as he adopts a fairly martial stance, legs firmly planted and balance perfected.

That has him making one of those wry little moues, brows up, lips pursed. "Indeed," he agrees, mildly. Setting aside that curiosity for now. Strange can ask him more questions, once he's had the stuffing beat out of him. "Of course," he says, inclining his head. "And not yet." He's poised, light on bare feet. It might not be martial arts as he's known them in the past, but…

"No? …well then."

Strange shifts his weight again with a grace that belies his frame and build, indicative of the Eastern martial arts, and settles in. Those scarred hands, traced with red and pinks of failed surgery, process through a series of mudras, all intending to build upon one another in aligning with certain resonances, and then dual mandalas appear in a weltering of firefly sparks. Before each palm they rotate, concentric circles within circles within circles etched with esoteric sigils that counter-rotate and glow about the focal points.

"Call up a ward. These will break through any physical defenses you might attempt," the Sorcerer explains in the calm cadence of a teacher.

The glowing and the shining. There's a tiny, childish flicker of envy at that. Trained in a different school, and cut from very different cloth. Strange was a scholar and a healer, before he found his Master. Lamont….Kent was a gun runner, a mercenary, and an addict.

His answering gestures are quick, deft, jagged….as if he carved his wards out of the air with an unseen knife. They don't glow - they trace lines of …smoke? ink? a blurred darkness that seems to fade after moment, but hang in the air when seen out of the corner of the eye. Angular and interwoven, seeming to ripple like fabric in a breeze. …..who taught this guy?

Whomever it was did it well enough for the warding spells before the man to be passable. Truly, passable. It was many months at Kamar-Taj before Strange himself managed this level of stability within the spell-field before him. The teacher removes himself from suspicion, from the morality of right and wrong, and simply focuses on the lesson at hand in the Arts.

"Be ready." It's all the warning that Lamont gets before the Sorcerer moves in a sudden flurry of Mystical blades, slicing and dicing with pitiless skill. The points of contact upon the wards are sure to have resounding sensations of impact upon the wards, anything from the teeth-tingling slice of a blade through cheesecloth to the near-physical contact to cause fractured, weakened wards — perhaps even sending metaphysical shards in a sizzling blowback.

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d9 for: 7

Morality. What morality? He's an odd creature - his magic's entirely dark, but somehow, it's not the wickedness of those who want power for power's sake. To serve justice is surely a moral cause, and there's no doubt his devotion to that has been pure. Just his methods….

The wards shatter like broken glass, dark shards lashing back. Some he dodges but others strike home. They impact his aura in blooms like puffs of smoke, and he stumbles back. There's a flicker of hesitation - he has no mundane armaments on him, but old instincts die hard.

Finishing the sweeping horizontal slice of his fully-encircled spell-gunpai with the elegance of a samurai, Strange dances back to create distance between himself and his…student. His expression gives away nothing as he murmurs,

"Again, Cranston. Think. How do you defeat this?" The Shadow is given all of a silent count to ten before the Sorcerer darts in again, all blurs of golden Mystical weaponry and steady, deliberate, irritatingly-accurate blows.

He is what he is, and force can't match force directly. Not with the kind of firepower Strange can bring to bear. He describes flat lines with his palms, smears of darkness like ink brushstrokes, grasps and rotates them into ragged half-circles. Fans. But they deflect, even if they don't absorb. Knocking the blows away, at least some of the time - though they swiftly grow ragged, trailing smoke from the rents.

"Ah." It's a thoughtful exhale that makes it through the sizzling sounds of metaphysical impact to be heard across the Mystical airwaves. "Good. Fight — " Crsshhisssmackfzzzzt! " — fire with fire."

Strange presses his advantage while never changing the base amount of willpower needed to keep the Mystical light of his tieshan sizzling in their neon curvatures. He never attempts to do anything more than wear down the spellwork of the shadowy fans countering his blows.

With a flick of his wrist, he collapses the mandalas to thin lines of brilliant golden light, blades that taper gently to a point. These will make quick work of the other spell-weapons…unless?

"And now what?" The Sorcerer asks, grinning slyly as he adjusts his own lean-limbed style to include a touch of…knife-work. Flick, he attempts to rip one of the fans in half from base to edge, flirting with touching Lamont's skin in the process.

Log note to self: gunsen fan, not gunpai

And that's when it gets weird. Er. Because sorcerer's fighting is as mundane as coffee with doughnuts, right. Lamont's not so much fighting deliberately as letting intuition rule, instincts stifled or atrophied finally stretching like muscles. The fan folds around the blade and…..starts to leach it. There are dark threads linking it back to what can only be the veins of the Shadow's wrist, and Strange can feel it trying to siphon off the power invested in it. The contact between those umbral shapes and the blade of Strange's own seems to all but smoulder, glowing a dull ember red…..and then they're slipping up past the blade, reaching for Strange himself.

Weird, like morality, seems to be a social construct. To Strange, he's simply…relieved inside — good. Lamont has the ability to think on his toes when pressed.

Still, what seeks to draw from him should learn not to bite the hand that feeds it. With a literal, ember-spitting retort, his collapsed tieshan flares up bright enough to blind anyone not wielding its power. If the veins wish for power, why not a couple of gigawatts of it!!!

While the trapped blade goes supernova, the other slips around, perhaps taking advantage of temporary sightlessness to press against the Shadow's throat.

Too much power, creating feedback….and only multiplying the effect. The blade's against his throat, enough to cause the merest nick……and then Lamont's power explodes, feeding on what it was given.

They're both in a storm of shadow, a personal magical tornado, and all of it seeking to batten on STrange in earnest. It's beyond Lamont's control, the id driving rather than a conscious mind. Human reactions to threat dictate he should be trying to shove Strange away. But….whatever kernel of magic he contains and whatever its dark genesis….it's not concerned with what Strange might do to that mere mortal body. It's trying to grapple him close and devour him.

With a hiss that echoes on multiple levels of the senses to sound like a cornered cobra, to brush along the spine with the gut-watering forewarning of a retort, to taste like petrichor and burnt incense — Strange savagely shuts down the entire exercise.

The source of the power vanishes entirely, plug pulled, with the dismissal of the Mystical blade-edged tieshans. The final blow is plain skin-upon-singlet, a hard palm heel strike straight to the sternum. It's meant to knock the wind from the target as well as send them stumbling back a good number of feet if not off of their feet entirely to land on their rump. Afterwards, Strange assumes a neutral stance, glaring daggers at Lamont, wherever he may be, standing or sprawled.

"I said nothing beyond your instincts," the Sorcerer enunciates crisply, unamused. "The lack of control with your magic is an issue, Cranston."

He's winded and put on his ass…..and it's not merely Stephen's proficiency that has him wide-eyed and shocked. Trying to drag breath back into his lungs, even as he attempts to get to his feet. In that airless voice, he confesses. "……I'd no idea it could do that." He stares at Strange as if it were his fault. "That was an instinct."

"Not the correct one," snaps Strange even as he sighs. Gritting his teeth behind thin lips showcases the cheekbones sharp enough to cut oneself upon and what attention rests on Lamont is a dispassionate study bereft of the tone of his voice. "Can you control your magic, Cranston? Or will I be continually interrupting lessons to cater to this? Because your enemies will not. They will take advantage of the chaos in the moment and slit your throat where you stand. That is of no use to Lindon."

He drives that reminder home pitilessly.

He has to consider. There's no kneejerk affirmative….it'll be a different world he's entered, one where bullets and camouflage no longer suffice. "I will control it," he affirms, visibly reassembling himself…..for all that there's the surprise of a man who's found he's abruptly grown another limb. Maybe a tail. A few heartbeats, and he's back to the usual dispassionate creature. Nevermind that he's still trying to get his lungs working properly.

"I know you will." Which leaves little option in the matter, truthfully. It's either that or a continually-increasing level of blistering reminders about it.

"Again, this same magic that you utilized, and focus its actions upon the construct." With a swirling flowering of his fingers in the air before him, Strange draws upon the natural Mystical energy in the atmosphere of the practice room to form a simple, spherical, golden ball of energy. It's about the size of a soccer ball, a miniature sun complete with ambient light and solar flares in glowing candle-smoke. It's densely-packed, this construct, brimming with frenetic power, and Strange considers Lamont from beyond it. "Drain it without your magic looping upon itself." Simple enough instructions, dictated with precision…right?

It lashes out in momentary hunger, a lick along his skin like a skein of rising smoke, a flicker of black flame. But he does suppress it….and then he's extending a hand in what looks like theatrical supplication.

There's strain in reining it in, as it obeys enough to go creeping towards the construct as a twisting rope of black threads. Chastened like a dog, apparently, as it weaves itself around and then sinks little tendrils in to the orb of light. Control, control - the line of his lips tightens, eyelids flickering fractionally. To discover a new addiction in the space of instants….and then forced to keep it under control. But he's been, since those days at the edge of Shambhala, an ascetic…..and this, like any other hunger, can be controlled.

Those impassive and lambent eyes have never lost their Mystical hues of amaranthine, not since they began the lesson. They observe what occurs in reaction to the availability of the construct's heady power.

Curious…and concerning. To Strange's heightened senses, this tendriled growth of inky threads tastes of…darkness. The absence of light and a…gnawing need. He looks to Lamont's face and decides that this is easy enough. Let's amp up the difficulty level — literally.

"Control it," he says quietly before flicking the fingers of one hand towards the orb as if removing water from them. The construct begins to emit a shifting hum, up….down…up…down…in time with ebbs and flow of Mystical power. Nothing more has been added to it, it's fluctuating as commanded. The trick…

…it's just on the side of simply too much to absorb in one sitting for someone not used to conducting this richness of cosmic plasma.

Now he's in control, albeit out at its trembling edge. One never loses an addiction, it's never cured. But it can be managed… And that's his gift, that iron will. He's master of himself, if not yet entirely so of this newly awakened edge of power.

There's a sheen of sweat at temple and jaw, the muscles there tight. But no grimacing or fighting, just that terrible care. Nor is he deliberately earthing the power, channeling it back down to the ground he stands on. Taking it in and keeping pace with the changes, if barely. His eyes are almost closed, lips pressed into that thin line. Is it painful, or pleasurable?

"Control it," the Sorcerer announces again with another gesture towards the construct. It doubles its speed now, burning at the black tendrils to turn them red-hot. One, two, one, two, through and through…will the vorpal orb go snickersack? "Mind the amount of energy you're conducting," he adds nonchalantly. The lack of stern bite to the comment betrays its use as bait. Will Lamont's conscious higher faculties latch onto it, begin to detatch from the brilliant ball? If not, well.

He's not going to do that whole kiss of life business should the Shadow crumple to the floor. More like a rude awakening jolt of pure healing magic.

This comes with an extra side of judgment, of course.

It starts to loop, but it's measured. Replacing those threads at the same rate, deliberately letting it burn and then restoring. Expanding throughout his aura, light rivuletting through the smoky dark, starting to pulse in time with his heartbeat. And then, of all things, the sphere's starting to alter its cadence….struggling to come into time with the willworker's heartbeat, too. Conscious thought's stepping back in favor of instinct, again….but it's the instinct that keeps a human upright, lets a centipede walk without overthinking tangling up its legs.

The orb is now half-sized, indicating its drainage rate and state. Its caster, disconnected from the construct, continues watching at his post with the unchanging measurement of a…professor, perhaps. Not only teacher, but scientist. After all, he suspects of what Lamont is drawing upon, but to have it controlled…this is new. New is good. New is different. New is intriguing…and could be dangerous.

"Better, Cranston. Now, remove your magic from it. Break away from the construct."

The disentangling is that much harder. There's a little shudder of strain, as he first forces the sphere's energy back, the golden lines fading from his aura. And then the dark threads withdraw, little by little, no longer being replaced as they burn away. They still pulse in time with his heartbeat - it gives the disturbing impression of being actual veins, as if they'd been peeled out of his arm as some kind of awful anatomist's lesson. Reluctant, but steady, wisping away like smoke, until he lowers his arm. His aura's darker than ever, breathing in and out with him, along with each controlled breath.

"Good. And dismiss your magic entirely." With a cracking snap of his fingers that causes sparkler-flecks from residual Mystical energy within them, Strange releases the fetters of his willpower upon the sunny orb. The energy returns to the Sanctum in a rush of hot air blown outwards, leaving behind the taste of baked grass and summer's promised heat in its wake. Then, he waits, watching all the while with those uncanny glowing eyes of his.

The threads dissipate into nothingness, and there's a feeling of something coalescing, settling. No longer that impression of seeking hunger. Lamont's gray with weariness, expression drawn, but he keeps his feet without swaying. There's a faintly sickened look in his eyes, though. IS that what he really is? Not merely something assumed, a burden picked up, but something as integral as blood and breath?

The Sorcerer continues to wait in silence. He's seen that mien before, in other practitioners and in one in particular whose distress still sends a pang against his scarred heart. Finally, his chin dips and rises in a nod, a seal of approval even as words impart the rest.

"Better. I'd call it an improvement. We'll end it there, I think. I have no need to test you further at the moment. There are towels in the corner by the water basin." He tilts his head towards…indeed, when did those show up? "Use them as need be. I'll Gate you to your house. No need for you to walk in such a state."

See? Sorcerer's got empathy somewhere in there. An oculus upon reality will dilate open shortly upon those wrought-iron gates. It's a simple step from the Sanctum's practice room to the familiarity and comforts of home.

He bows with punctilious correctness, even as an occasional droplet of sweat patters down on the soft surface of the mat. There's a moment where his brow furrows, as if he'd dispute that courtesy….but he doesn't. Instead, he cleans himself up with that finicking care, before letting himself be dropped home by his back gate.

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