A Meeting in Greenwich Village

August 26, 2015:

A chance meeting leads to a chat about magic between Doctor Strange and Tim Hunter

Greenwich Village

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

During the day, Greenwich Village is a bustling neighborhood. The streets aren't as crowded as uptown, but there's a steady foot traffic that keeps the local businesses doing well. This time of year sees the tall trees that line the streets bristling with lovely green leaves and giving a fair amount of shade to those in the neighborhood that tend to linger and loiter, wandering up and down the street and enjoying the day like many other New York neighborhoods from ages ago.
One such an individual is the young Tim Hunter. He's settled on one of the bus stop benches that remain just outside Artichoke Pizzeria, across from an Ale House and a Used Book store. It's sometimes a good way to just relax, to people watch, and to get some studying done in a place other than his musty old apartment.
Above the young man a small brown owl is perched on one of the higher branches, occasionally hooting downwards though the noise of it is lost in the ambient hum of the passing people and traffic. Looking up from his old and heavy leatherbound book, Tim glances up at the avian and waves a hand slightly. "There's no need to go back to Metropolis. Plenty of competent people up there dealing with it."

Greenwich Village is an interesting neighborhood, and 40 odd years resident Stephen Strange could tell many fascinating tales of what happens in the area. For instance, it draws artists and mystics like a magnet. This is due to the ley line distribution and accidental geomancy of the streets and buildings. The center of this nexus happens to be his own residence, usually obfuscated, but never unfindable for those who seek it.
Case to point, Tim got here somehow, didn’t he? Strange noticed, although not right away. Today, however, chance has taken the older sorcerer to the same book store. And so Tim finds a middle-aged gentleman in a dark suit stopping by his bench. “Good morning, Mister Hunter. I was beginning to think the fates were making us to avoid each other. And perhaps they did.”

Looking up from the tome, Tim blinks a few times and pushes his glasses back up the bridge of his nose with the knuckle of one finger. "Pardon?" He says succinctly, then his gaze focuses fully upon the man before him. A smile is given, since really Tim's enjoyed his time in Greenwich, many of the people are so rather friendly. It almost feels like it's not truly a part of New York a'tall.
"Oh, hello. Have we met? I've been getting a lot of that lately. I should apologize, it's a long story but I am afraid I do not recall your name." The way he offers that, there's such a measure of sincerity there that it's clear he means it but what's more he's had to say something similar before several times.
And then suddenly the owl swoops down to perch upon the young man's shoulder, hooting affectedly and then pointedly pecking at the young magician's ear.
Tim winces and eyes the owl sidelong, then looks back. "A pleasure to meet you, sir." He offers his hand as he rises.

Strange shakes his head, “never met you. Although I met the previous Merlyn, briefly. Stephen Strange,” he offers his hand for a shake. “I am a sorcerer and your neighbor, my house is three blocks from here, at 177 Bleecker Street.” He nods to the owl, “and a pleasure to meet you too.”

It's a friendly squeeze and then he steps back after releasing the man's hand. He tilts his head, "Which version of him did you meet? I've heard from people he was either an ok guy… or a real jerk. Very frustrating to have people already have opinions about you without having met you. Let me tell you." Tim seems almost apologetic for the cosmic contingencies that have led to there being such beings as himself.
Then he turns and gestures even as he shifts his old book to the other arm. He lifts a hand and points down the way, "Oh, I just live over that way in that building, umm apartment 3C." He self-consciously reaches for the backpack that he had left beside the bus stop bench, picking it up and making a bustle of replacing his reading material back into the pack.
"It's always interesting meeting another person with the whole… you know. Magic. Thing." He might get a hint that despite what's passed for him he's still not entirely at ease with being The Merlin.

Strange nods, inviting Tim to walk with him. Bus stops are not great for conversations about magic. There is a park just around the corner. “Magic. Thing. Indeed. The Merlin should have been the Supreme Sorcerer after Zhang Jiao, he was the first and only magician to reject the honor. This was around 500 AD. And… many sorcerers claimed to be him during the next centuries, sometimes with his blessing, so the truth remains obscure.”

Taking the signal, Tim turns and falls into step beside Strange even as the owl, Yo-yo, takes flight and lifts off up into the sky. The young mage turns his head to the side and listens to Strange as the man speaks, quirking an eyebrow in consideration as he moves. "You sound very knowledgable. Most of the people I've met haven't spoken too much about… you know, the history of these sorts of. Things." Again with the Things.
Slipping the backpack over his shoulder and then sliding his hands into his pockets, Tim continues with their stroll. "You have to understand, Mr. Strange. A few months ago I was just this guy in data entry. The next day I wake up and there are these books trying to convince me that I am The Merlin, and that I have a Destiny." One can almost hear the (tm) placed at the end of that last word.
"And then a talking owl that claims he's a manifestation of an aspect of Wisdom but I think he's just trying to trade on the whole archetype to get free food. So."
He takes a breath. "Anything you can tell me would be great. I've been studying… but yeah."

"The owl is your familiar, isn’t he? And the rest,” the rest makes Strange hesitate. It sounds as if Tim suffered from some kind of reality discontinuity. He was too casual about this. Thing. “A few months only? You should have noticed many years ago.” He looks at Tim, studying him carefully for a few seconds. “Unless you have forgotten. What did the owl tell you about yourself?”

"That I am the Opener, The Merlin, the Rider. That I have will have performed great feats in Faerie, and the World. That even those without End know of me." He offers those words in a steady rhythm as if reciting them from memory and giving them the inflection the animal did as well. He shakes his head and spreads his hands, fingers wide. "I have met other magicians and they seem to work with magic in… a very different way. As in they know what they're doing."
The young sorcerer shakes his head and takes a few paces so he can walk in front of Strange, walking backwards so he can face the man. "They cast spells, they know magical words. The only time I've done anything of remark was I heard a voice in my head and I made a bargain with something calling itself Negagfok."

Strange tsk when he hears the world ‘faerie’. Not a fan. He invites Tim to sit down by a park table which is there very conveniently, along with a couple chairs. “Spells is how human beings channel magic best,” comments Strange. “We are creatures of words and language, Mister Hunter. Magic is an art, so we express it with motion and sound. I really recommend you to learn spells, or make up your own. Raw magic, raw reality alteration, usually has a long term deleterious effect in the human mind. Often even in beings that have sturdier psyches than most humans.”

"I've been reading what I can, though my resources are a bit slim," Although a sentient stack of books does somewhat help. He goes on as he unslings his backpack and takes up a seat opposite the older man. "I spoke to this… guy." Yeah it's easier just to say 'guy' instead of 'A Treatise on Intuitive Magic as Practiced in The Five Kingdoms, or How One Should Conduct Themselves In Alternate Spheres of Existence: An Introspective Approach to Thought' that aggressively tried to teach him a few lessons.
"So I spoke to this guy and he said I was more an intuitive talent and that I should trust in the feeling of the moment. He made all sorts of allusions to music and conducting an orchestra but I have no rhythm nor talent for music so… yeah kinda went past me." He pushes his glasses back up his nose again.

"I have heard some magicians ramble about how it feels like playing this or that instrument they love,” admits Strange. “But I think it is a personal thing. I was a surgeon before learning magic, some older mystics have told me it still shows on my approach to magic. Some younger mages also link magic to computer programming.” Which makes him shake his head. Kids today!
“You might be intuitive, but you are still human. Even the mightiest of the Old Blood, whose personal mystic power rivals that of the gods, have found spell-casting both useful and a solid anchor for their minds,” adds Strange. “I can give you some lessons, if you do desire. But right now I am dealing with a major threat to the city, and to the whole world, in fact.”

That causes Tim to furrow his brow as he looks across the table at the other man. He rests his hands on the table, fingers on the edge as he tilts his head just so. "Is it connected to that… you know, the necromancers up north?" He gestures with a toss of a thumb behind him, as if it was just a bit away. "I was drawn into that… it was really sort of disconcerting."

“You know about Master Darque?” Rhetorical question. Strange shakes his head and sits down, sighting. “No. Darque is very dangerous and needs to be stopped. His mad ‘ascension’ scheme involves killing millions of innocents. There is little disconcerting on his actions. He is a man consumed by ambition that has lost all shreds of conscience after engaging in corrupt magics for decades. He needs to be stopped, and I am very happy Miss Zatara has taken the initiative in this regard. Her father would be proud of her.”
A pause, “unfortunately there are even worse threats. Aliens from another dimension, a place called Apokolips, have set up devices in several cities of Earth. These obelisks are terraforming our world, doubtlessly in preparation for an invasion.”

"That is…" Tim has in the past pined forlorn for the times when his biggest worries had been about making rent and being late for work. But these things, the matter with Master Darque first of all made him feel terribly small, even though he ended up summoning the power of winter and the north wind… to do his part in the conflict when it had drawn him in. But then this mention of otherworldly beings doesn't surprise him in that they exist, more perhaps in that they're active and doing something to their world.
"That's the first I've heard of it. I mean, you know, the news doesn't exactly carry that sort of thing and I don't really have a lot of contacts in the…" He gestures towards Strange and then finally decides on saying, "The community."

"But they do," replies Strange. "The Justice League defeated a group of mysterious flying creatures. Super-criminals Unicorn and Mind Wolf were involved. SHIELD cordoned a few city blocks. It was in the newspapers." New Yorkers no longer read twice the news about super-villains doing this or that. "It was a bold invasion, and I suspect the enemy is quite convinced their obelisks are impervious to Earth's technology and magic. Fortunately, they are wrong."

Leaning forward a bit it's clear that Tim is open-minded abut such things, considering what he's gone through the last few months. So he lifts his chin and asks easily, "What do you intend to do about it? I mean I imagine it can't be terribly easy, but if you know something can be done you must have some sort of plan. And I mean… is this something magicians do often? Or more just a life decision you've made to sort of defend the universe as it were?"

"The obelisks can be destroyed. A group of magic-users working in concert can do it," explains Strange. "I have some help already, including some surprising volunteers. As for doing this often… I do. But it is not something the typical mage needs to do, or wants to do. However, magic, like all power, tends to exert a toll. Chances are atypical situations and strange problems will hound you all your life. Some magicians become hermits to avoid trouble. I hear it even works, sometimes."

"Well," Tim looks to the side, as if considering Strange from a long ways off. He takes a breath and then adds, "If there's something I can do, I wouldn't mind… you know, trying to do it. I should just warn you that I'm not exactly like able to do things all willy nilly. If I come along chances are all I might end up being able to do is eat all your pizza and drink all your coffee."
There's a small shrug, an easily offered smile. "But with that caveat out of the way, I don't mind saying I'll do what I can do. If you aim me in the right direction. As it were."

"That is a generous offer to do to a man you just met," observes Strange. "But one I can’t reject, you have the raw power we need for the unraveling spells. And we need to gather soon," he admits. A glance is spared to the owl, as if looking for approval. Then back to Tim, "are you familiar with the Oblivion Bar?"

A small shake of his head is given, "I'm afraid not." He answers in regards to the bar, but then he goes on. "And the way I figure it so many people have been coming up to me in one way or another and telling me all sorts of things that I would have considered them to be crazy just a bit ago. Turns out all of them have been truthful so far, kind of foolish of me to try and break the streak now."
As for Yo-yo the owl sort of fluffs his feathers and turns its head to the side one way, then the other, as if getting different angles on Strange himself. Then Tim lifts his voice again, "I mean, I can google it and all if needs be."

Strange wouldn’t be surprised if the Oblivion Bar has a webpage nowadays. But he is not sure, so, “the Oblivion Bar is a pocket dimension connected to several cities on Earth and other realms. It is a neutral gathering place and only supernatural beings can even see the door, much less go through it. I will give you the direction of the door in New York.” He conjures a small card with the address and passes it to the younger man. “It is a good place to meet your peers, have a coffee, or a beer, or hear a good story.”

Blinking a few times, Tim seems entirely too impressed by the simple conjuration of the card, what could simply be replicated with sleight of hand is normally not so impressive to folks. But to Tim it's the simple act of magic being so easily at one's fingertips. He shakes his head and smiles, accepting the card. "Well, if I work up the courage perhaps I'll see you there sometime. But if you need to get in contact with me… well, I'm in the yellow pages. And, well, you know. Facebook." Yeah he's not exactly a low profile sort. Not that he's high profile either.

Strange smiles faintly. "I know how to contact with you, and you know where I live. Drop by soon, there are some books in my library you can borrow, if nothing else. The bar is a good place for our little cabal to gather. A neutral place, as some of my associates are often at the wrong side of the law. But they all have good reasons to want Earth to remain as it is." He stands up, "a pleasure to meet you, Timothy Hunter. We shall be in touch."

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