A Touch of Strange

May 12, 2018:

Vivienne's hard at work in the Village. The Sorcerer Supreme drops in. Literally.

Greenwich Village, Outside the Croft Residence

It's Greenwich. It's posh. Lara lives just over there.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Lara Croft, Robert Berresford, Tom Judge

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It wasn't that the demonic activity had increased, strictly speaking, in New York City. There were too many ways and means for them to traverse from their plane to this one for there the city to ever be bereft of them. No, the trouble was the sheer quantity infecting this particular part of the city, and this particular strip in Greenwich in particular.

Vivienne had not even had to use any of the small magics at her disposal to find them. The stink of them had drawn her, the taste of sulfur on the back of her throat. She'd often been given to wonder why they'd never mastered the trick of masking their scent. She'd finally managed to find the place where the veil was thin enough to allow them through, and she stood as she had done for most of the night, fully armored, with both her swords and the Spear, on the other side, on the mortal side, waiting each of the creatures as they broke through, squirming and wriggling their way into existence as though they were being birthed from some obscene womb.

She had placed what call for aid that she could, though the Ghost Walker had not replied to her message. She had not the skill to close the rift, and so, she did the only thing she could do. Cull the horde as they came through from whatever hell dimension had spawned them.

-

Demon invasions in Greenwich Village. Of all things!

Still, there are many hells. It is not impossible in some of them it is still not known the Earth's Supreme Sorcerer lives in Greenwich Village. It is also possible some demon lords have poor aim. Where they aiming for Albuquerque?

It was not the stench, it was the Orb of Agamotto alerting him of the breach what brings Doctor Strange running (well, levitating) without even having a chance to finish his (late) dinner. It has been one of those weeks.

And he wasn't even the first to arrive. Trust in New York to have a hero guarding every corner. Although Strange almost chokes when he sees the Spear of Destiny.

His appearance might surprise Vivienne, since he pretty much appears from a door in the air. Not that differently as the demons are appearing, but with more gold light and no sulfurous stench. "By Osthur and Munnopor," he swears, "who wields the Spear of Destiny in this time and age?" He can't wait for an answer, as one of the demons materializes and almost bites his head off. Strange ducks without a tenth of second to spare. Then gestures quickly, a swirling vortex of crimson fire pushing the demon back through the veil rather forcefully. It leaves a few sharp teeth behind.

-

While the name Doctor Strange was no secret to her, she'd been told more than once, that she'd be taken to meet the man sooner rather than later, Vivienne had been given nothing in the way of a description of the Sorcerer Supreme, nor anything by way of information on his residence or current whereabouts. Add to that that she had only a very basic knowledge of the sort of power such magicians wielded, there's not a shred of recognition in her expression, as the man walks out of a door where no door should be.

What did catch her attention was the demon, appearing nearly on top of the man. And thought of what power or defenses he might have don't even rise to the level of conscious thought, as she launched herself towards the creature. The vortex, of course, beat her to it, and she came up abruptly short, as the rend in reality, which she could not see, precisely, but rather, could feel, fell momentarily quiet. She did not retreat, however, moving into position to place herself between that unholy womb, the spear held at the ready in her strong, left hand, and the man still standing in the air nearly at the level of her head.

The question of her name or, perhaps more precisely, her identity does not seem to put her out. Though she operated in secret, she had never been given to lying about herself. "I am named Vivienne Benoit. I am called the Magdalena."

-

"Indeed? Are you from Magdala?" Because some titles… then again, Strange carries the rather pompous one of 'Supreme Sorcerer'. Maybe it was fitting for Agamotto and the first few Supremes, who were closer to deities than mortals. Some days he is not so sure he should be called that.

"Apologies. I am Stephen Strange. Doctor Strange," he offers. "What is going on here? It feels as if someone opened a conduit to a lower Shard Realm. Something inverted the wards across the whole Moore Street Ley Line." Another demon tries to materialize, but it never forms more than a shade before Strange reaches out with a hand, muttering a few words and solidifying reality, making the creature bounce off, metaphysically speaking.

-

The question of her town of origin actually brings a smile to Vivienne's face, a note of friendly cheer despite the strangeness, no pun intended, of the moment and the situation. Perhaps because this was as much a part of Vivienne's every day life as a ride on the subway, or a trip to the local matinee might be for a denizen of the city, "Not I, though she whose blood I carry and whose name I bear as my office and title was once, in the long ago from that place."

The name, though not the sight of the man, brings the light of recognition to her expression, "The Sorcerer Supreme. I believe I was supposed to meet you, though such a meeting had not been arranged. The next attempt at breach pulls her attention away, but the rift is soon mended. "I do not know, truthfully. I felt their presence coming through and came to do what I could. I believe, though I am not certain, that they were targeting the Croft Manor." Not that it actually is a manor, being that it is in the middle of Greenwich, but it is posh enough you'd be hard pressed not to think it might be. "Thank you. I called Robert, but I hadn't gotten a reply, and I could not close it myself."

-

Now Strange is gesticulating quickly, his hands a blur of red and gold energy. "Robert?" He pauses. "Give me a second… ah, there," he mutters a few words that wound like bastardized Latin. "Ah, the Ghost Walker. You are one of the artifact wielders, I suppose. I have met Lady Croft a few times. She has some enemies." A bit of an understatement. Whoever did this was either very clever or very lucky.

"I expect I am going to have to spend the bulk of the weekend in the Astral Plane," comments the sorcerer. "No rest for the wicked, they say." Then he turns to Vivianne, "do you suspect any of the fiends escaped?"

-

Vivienne seems fascinated by the Doctor's work, marking not only the movement of his hands, but the effect of light and magic on reality. "I am the bearer of the Spear, yes. I have met a few of the others, but not all. It was only by a strange coincidence that I met the Ghost Walker at all." She uses the name Strange seems to have decided on, "So it would seem. And bold, if they chose to attempt to assault her place of power."

Strange's question brings a thoughtfulness to Vivienne's face, her right hand rising to grasp the spear beneath the left, her eyes, not closing, but losing focus, as she seems to be turning, fr the moment, inward, "I do not believe so. Certainly I cannot feel any of them here, or within the property." The mention of the astral plane brings her eyes back into focus, "If there is work to be done, I will do whatever is needed. That is the charge placed on me."

-

Strange hmphs, looking winded after the quick casting. "Well, that is good, at least. It is fortunate you were here and with a weapon so powerful. The craft I will do is just warding and reinforcing of the veil between worlds. Tedious but necessary in these troubled times. Lately New York has been a target. Still is… the old monsters, the sorceress Circe and the Mother of Demons, Lilith, are in the region. This breach might be a consequence of one of their dark sorceries."

-

With the rift still blessedly silent, Vivienne releases some of the tension she'd held at the ready that way and manner of most trained combatants, that wariness when they know more enemies might well be on the horizon, "I was fortunate to have felt the call. I,…have seen more activity lately than I think a place like this can credit. As though something were calling these things here." The revelation that Circe and Lilith are about, "Drawing all evil in, like metal drawn to a powerful magnet. It is not a coincidence that the artifacts are gathering either. One of the other artifact bearers has been attacked multiple times in the last few weeks."

-

"Bearclaw hinted a war between the wielders," ventures Strange, straightening slowly. He is wearing a three piece suit that must be quite expensive, anachronistically he has a dark red cloak with a golden trim over his shoulders, a large gaudy-ish circular gold clasp. But now the cloak seems to shrink and fold, turning into a normal-looking scarf. "But everything might be related," he admits. Because it usually is in his experience. "The Justice League going after Circe already. She shall not elude us for long."

-

Vivienne nods, listening to Strange's words before she offers her own experience, "Yes. I do not know all of the incidents which have happened, of course, but I know that one of the Angelus host attacked the bearer of the Rapture. He and I managed to kill it before it could do more damage, though it killed at least one bystander. And he has been attacked at least two other times since I have come to New York. Demons in those instances, but if you say the mother of demons is loose, that seems, yes, as though it were connected." She steps back, as Strange finally settles to earth, watching the retreat of the cloak with interest, "A team I have heard of, but have never met."

-

Strange grimaces when he hears about the Angelus soldier killing innocents. Supposedly it is the artifact of light and on his own side. He needs to do more research. Mentally he puts in in the LIST. Unfortunately it is a very long list right now.

"Come with me, please," he offers, "this corner of the city is now… unhealthy. I will wrap it in illusion and misdirections so for a time no human being stumbles on it by chance. As for the League… they are remarkable men and women, not all human. They are perhaps too blatant, but it looks we live in a time that demands for visible champions. I am proud to be among them."

-

Does she know Strange? At all? No. But she trusts the Ghost Walker, and he trusts the Sorcerer Supreme. And so, when Strange entreats her to follow him, Vivienne moves to do so. The sword in her right hand she puts away, the spear she flicks down with her wrist, as if she intended the shaft to hit the ground. Except that it doesn't. Instead, it shrinks itself down, until it was barely more than the spearhead. That, Vivienne slides back under the cloak she wears, back into its holster. "The Magdalena have long worked in silence and in secret. To see such selflessness made visible, used to, one would hope, inspire good works in others cannot be a bad thing."

-

"It does," confirms Strange, leading the woman to better lit streets. "I was a teenager during World War Two and I still remember the stories of Captain America and the Invaders. They brought hope and wonder in very dark times. Long before I knew magic was real."

Did those heroes inspire him when he became a master sorcerer? Oh well, it was the sixties. Those were weird times. The Beatles seemed more important than long lost Captain America. And Strange was learning about Agamotto the All-Seeing, the Rain Queen Ayesha and Hermes Trismegistus.

But three years ago Strange met Wonder Woman. And breaking the two thousand years of secret Supreme Sorcerers, he joined the Justice League.

-

Vivienne keeps an easy pace as they walk, seeming completely nonplussed at the fact that she looks rather like an escapee from some sort of SCA event, only with much less in the way of actual clothing as part of her armor. The revelation of Strange's age comes as an obvious surprise to Vivienne, the man, after all, looking barely a handful of years older than herself. Well, alright, possible two handfuls, but he wore it well. "I must admit that I do not know much of Sorcerers. My knowledge has been, in many cases, limited to the demonic, and to those threats and enemies which belong to the Church. Although, I must admit, much like the stories of Captain America, I cannot imagine what it must be like to live in a world so different from the one into which you were born." The fact that Captain America did not time travel the long way around, is not common knowledge, of course, to anyone, much less one such as Vivienne, raised in the shelter of the Church.

-

Oh the Church. With capital C. "Sorcerers have a complicated history with the Christian Church," he comments diplomatically. "Well, I can answer most questions you have about mortal magic-users. And some about the immortal. Demons are only a small subset of the mystic beings, albeit most of them are indeed enemies of humankind and most deities."

-

"I believe the Church has a contentious history with just about everyone, including itself. That is no different now than it was two millennia ago, when the foundations of the Church were first laid." Vivienne seems to take the conversation in stride, "The women in my office have always served the Church and its interests, but I do not serve them blindly. I work with them because it has been given to me to do so. But I would welcome any knowledge you could share with me. And I will provide what aid I can, if it seems right to me to do so."

-

"Ill be happy to answer all your questions, Miss Benoit," confirms Strange, "my residence is just around the corner, at 177-A of Bleecker Street." There is there a small townhouse, with an art deco window only a magician of some knowledge would recognize as a seal of the Vishanti.

-

The formality of that title only brings a shake of her head, "Please, I would prefer Vivienne, or Ana, as many call me, as you like. I have never felt the need to stand on ceremony." As they turn the corner and arrive at the residence, she finally steps away from the good doctor. Regardless of his own power, and that, having seen what he was capable, she should trust him to guard his own demense, she did what seemed only natural to her, as she walked the perimeter, ensuring that she could not feel anything amiss. "And thank you for the offer. I am also willing to share what knowledge I have with you."

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