Strange Breakfast Pt2

June 19, 2018:

The second part of Illyana and Vivienne's breakfast at the Sanctum. Backdated scene to May 30, 2018. See: Strange Breakfast Pt1

Strange's Sanctum

Characters

NPCs: Wong

Mentions: Cyrus Black

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

(continued from log 7456)

Illyana pauses, tea halfway to her lips, when Wong mentions the Wand of Watoomb's defences. With an oddly hollow feeling in her stomach, she knows what's coming next, and Strange's words confirm it. An artifact that should have been out of reach, appearing where it couldn't possibly be.

Illyana flashes back to a possessed Dani Moonstar, holding her Bloodstone medallion, which was secured in Limbo by the blackest, most powerful magic she possessed, and yet, impossibly, still right in front of her.

She'd convinced herself it was nothing more than a very impressive illusion, but now? Now she's been given cause to think again.

Illyana resumes her motion, taking a sip of her tea and putting the cup down. There's no sense of tiredness in her now, and she doesn't interrupt. Just listens intently.


Wong nods to Magdalena, "I went to check while the doctor was in Gotham," so shortly before he went to retrieve Illyana. "The wards seemed to be fine," he confirms. And Strange nods, "this place is very strongly warded. Of course true inexpugnability is impossible, but short I dare say I have the safest place in Northeastern America to keep dangerous magical devices."

Not that he is not going to check, in fact… he finishes his tea. "I will check now, since thanks to Vivienne I am feeling much better, and I can show you the Wand, Illyana. It is an interesting, but very dangerous device. Best saved for truly dire times. I wouldn't risk to use it short of having the world attacked by an hostile Elder God."

And full circle, since that was the subject of Illyana's studies tonight. "Which… might be soon," he stands up. "Please, come with me."


Vivienne, having been just about to sip the cup of tea which Wong had so kindly provided, nearly manages to bring the cup to her lips, before the Sorcerer Supreme requests her attendance. And so, alas, the tea is abandoned, the china returned to its saucer with barely a sound, before she rises to her feet, "I hope that it will be my good fortune to be able to share breakfast with you, Wong." He did slave away all morning and all. But that will have to be after the work is done. Just for the nonce, she rises, slipping her hand beneath her jacket to retrieve the shortened spear. It may well be that she is in the safest place in North America, but she's been too long in service not to be wary. Best to be over-prepared than under. "Of course, Doctor."


Strange talks about how well-warded his Sanctum is, and boasts of how it's the safest place in at least a sizeable chunk of North America to store his magical accoutrements, Illyana's about to innocently offer Limbo's vaults as an even more secure alternative… but she pauses, right on the edge of speaking, as once again she remembers her Bloodstones, out of their proper place.

The promise of seeing something else that the Sorcerer Supreme possibly shouldn't be showing the Demon Queen of Limbo is more than enough to snag her interest, and she grins. "Two magical items of immense power in one day?" She says, lightly, "And it's not even my birthday." She's teasing him, of course, but there's an eager light in her eyes. Strange's warnings about actually using the wand don't seem to daunt her, much. "I'll keep that in mind." Illyana says, quietly. She has her own problems with the Elder Gods that will have to be dealt with sooner or later.

Finally finishing that aborted sip of her tea, Illyana puts the cup down and gets to her feet, waiting for Strange to lead on. She might bit just the slightest bit impatient.


Strange gives Illyana an amused look. "Apologies about the breakfast," he tells Magdalena. "We will resume in a few minutes, hopefully." Unless the Wand is not there, in that case anything goes.

"Are you familiar with the Wager of the Octessence, Illyana?" If not, there is a book for that. "Watoomb is one of the Eight. You are likely more familiar with another of the signants. Cyttorak. Watoomb is the same kind of mystic principality. Demon, alien god, I know not. Not fully hostile, but hardly a friend of humankind." The door at the back of the living room leads today to a short hallway, and a door with a spiral staircase down. The staircase feel like dark wood with an iron railing, and although easy to see despite the lack of obvious light, the walls are either a very, very light-soaking black or there are no walls but just the void.

There is a metal door at the bottom, after maybe a hundred steps. It opens quietly when strange pushes it. The chamber beyond isn't large and would best called a vault. The metal walls are covered with glyphs, and the tiled floor is a complex mosaic of cabalistic symbols. There is a pedestal with an ornate box on it, but strange goes to the right wall and opens a hidden drawer.

The Wand of Watoomb seems to be made of gold caged in iron. It is actually more like a kingly rod, thick and almost eighteen inches long. The spheres at the sides look like angry horned heads if seen in the right angle. It positively radiates power to those sensitive.

"If this one is not the real Wand it is an incredibly good copy," decides Strange after looking at the device for a minute. Wong nods quietly. Strange picks it up carefully and offers it to Illyana so she can get a good feel of it.


Vivienne, perhaps remembering that sort of advice that all children receive in their youth: don't touch anything, don't stick your hands out the windows, don't stare into the yawning abyss on either side of you - also possibly don't go into the basement in a strange house wearing high heeled shoes, does precisely as she should, in her low-heeled, comfortable boots, hands in, the spear tucked in close to her side, following at the pace Strange sets, stepping away from the other three people as they descend into the basement. Never a good idea to cluster together. Too easy to hit everyone at once, yeah? And as she's only, currently, the technical support, and has neither knowledge of, nor connection to the artifact under discussion, seems content to remain in the guard position, curious eyes taking in what she can see of the basement room.


By contrast, Illyana strolls through the Sanctum Sanctorum as if she owns the place - mostly because she knows that, with Strange leading the way, the house won't try to misdirect her, get her lost, or otherwise try to keep its secrets from her.

The house doesn't like at least the demonic part of Illyana - and possibly the rest of her as well - and she's petty enough to rub its figurative nose in it.

"You can't hang around the people I hang around without knowing of Cyttorak." Illyana replies with a quiet snort, but she's still listening intently to everything Strange is telling her. "So how did you end up with his wand?" Interested Illyana might be, but that doesn't make her any less irreverent as she follows Strange down the staircase, looking with interest at the lack of… well, anything surrounding them on either side. She might be taking interior design notes.

Illyana doesn't hesitate to step into the vault after Strange, but she does make a quick study of the symbols on the walls and then shoots a glance back at the door before she can stop herself, as if to make sure it's still open. Even with her talents, she's not sure she'd like to be in here with the door shut. After that, however, her eyes follow Strange closely as he retrieves the wand, and then settle on it, hungrily. She can feel the power from here, and part of her wants it.

Illyana blinks when Strange passes her the wand, caught by surprise, but then reaches out quickly - before hesitating with her hand hovering just above the wand. It's as if two impulses are warring within her. It's only for a second, and then her fingers close upon the wand. What she'd felt before is nothing to what she experiences now. After a moment of almost communing with the artefact, she looks up at Strange with a smirk. "Now I see why you keep it down here." She weighs the wand in her hand. "So if this is here, and…" She turns the wand over in her hands, inspecting it, then looks up again at Strange for confirmation. "Complete? What did you run into in Gotham?"


"Shortly after I returned to New York. Hmm, I think it was 1972," explains Strange, folding his arms and remembering. "I came under attack by another sorcerer, a man called Cyrus Black. He was a beginning sorcerer, not lacking talent, but he had learned from charlatans and nineteen century books written by dilettantes. But he… he had this, the Wand of Watoomb. He assaulted the Sanctum and came close to kill me. He had a few followers and when some of them died they reanimated as undead. Powerful undead. Wights."

Obviously Black failed to kill him, and Strange was relatively young back then. "I was elated to have found the Wand. I thought it would make my life simpler, and make me invincible. But it was… cursed, I suppose. Although not in the conventional sense. It was just designed by an alien mind. It made me careless, irrational, and the Wand shattered in three parts, and fell in the hands of a madman called Warren Traveler. He almost destroyed the world. So after I recovered and rebuilt the Wand I decided to hide it. It has been here over 40 years."

He looks at the Wand again. "Or maybe not. There was a murder in Gotham a couple days ago. I went because the Orb of Agamotto gave me a warning. The deceased was a pawn shop owner that had been assassinated in a vaguely ritualistic manner. There was an empty case in the shop, it had been used to contain and hide a powerful item. I recognized the power signature. It was one of the Wand fragments. The deceased reanimated as a wight and…" hit him really hard, bt thanks to Magdalena he is feeling much better. "He screamed the name of the killer, Cyrus Black."

Wong frowns at the news. "He must be a very old man now."


Far be it from Vivienne to judge anyone by their cover, and so, she keeps any comment she might be tempted to make about Stephen Strange looking rather chipper for a man who is, all things considered, is probably far older than old enough to be her grandfather, neatly to herself. Instead, she turns her eyes away from the walls and ceiling, stepping closer to study the item now in Illyana's hands. She makes no attempt to touch it, but the story certainly seems to peak her interest.

"And you are certain that you recovered all of the fragments of the Wand before you rebuilt it? There is no chance that even a sliver of it might have escaped and has now been both found and used to such terrible effect?" Vivienne never claimed and will never claim to be an expert in any magic other than the sort she wields herself, but she knows enough of humans to know that they can be fallible. "Also, forgive me my ignorance, but do such power artifacts as these exist only in a single reality? Is it possible that other versions of it might exist in other realms one of which might have been brought here?"


Strange is fairly old, but not many sorceress manage to achieve the near-immortality he enjoys. Still, there are ways. "Before my time," comments Wong, his eyes on the Wand.

"It was only three parts, and I think it was designed to split like that," replies Strange, looking at Vivienne. "I can't fathom why but it can be divided in three. I think it is whole now. I could be wrong, it is alien magic. It… might be a second Wand, yes. It is a possibility." Nothing in his books, but the Wand has not been on Earth often either.

He sighs, "I suppose I need to check it directly from the source. But this is a bad time for me to leave the Earth. There was an incident a few months ago, as Lilith crossed over into the physical plane the Sun God Atum vanished from his demesne. He is the one the Elder Gods fear most, their slayer."


Illyana's head turns slightly as Vivienne approaches, her eyes darting sideways, a bit furtively, as if she's holding a prize that she expects to be stolen… for all of about a second, before she half-turns to allow Vivienne a better look, and even extends the wand a little way toward her, as if daring her to take it.

Maybe Illyana just wants to see what effect the 'cursed' wand might have on Vivienne. In any case, when Vivienne doesn't touch it, Illyana just smiles and turns to face Strange as he recounts the wand's history.

"Is this where we come in?" Illyana asks. If Strange can't go, it doesn't seem much of a leap of logic to her.


"This, if you do not mind me saying, Doctor, seems a very imprecise business." Hey, no one ever said magic wasn't without the craziest of paradoxes. "There must be some way that you can ascertain whether or not what happened in Gotham was connected to this particular item. The way that you can smell a certain strain of demon and know which was.." she pauses, glancing at Illyana, and then at Wong and Strange both, "That's probably just me. But is there no way to…have the mystical version of forensic evidence that would give you a definitive answer to what's going on here? If you need someone who is not at all connected to whatever magic it is that this Wand produces or what you both seem capable of, I can certainly provide you assistance. But I simply cannot help but think that we are missing a very big clue here."


Strange nods. And then remembers something else. "And Cyrus Black ended up in Stormwatch's prison," which is not a good place to keep researching sorceries, definitely. "It was a time I still trusted the American government would deal fairly with super-human criminals, including murderous wizards."

Still, it is a point to start looking for him.

Are they missing something? Perhaps. Because… "Circe keeps throwing distractions to the Justice League. This… could be her again. But coincidences happen in this business." He turns to Illyana, "do you want to come in, truly? You can reach Watoomb's Shard from Limbo, I am sure. Also, he is supposed to have a temple in Australia, in a prehistoric ruin built by ancient Atlanteans. I can't remember the coordinates now, but I can find them."

By 'going to the source' Strange meant go to ask Watoomb about the Wand directly, it seems.


Magic? Imprecise? Perish the thought! There's a quiet snicker from Illyana when that accusation is leveled. Illyana's starting to like Vivienne, or at least appreciate her perspective. "No kidding." Illyana puts in, helpfully. "And he's the foremost authority, too."

Perhaps she might be expected to be offended by the suggestion that she smells bad, but Illyana just shrugs when Vivienne glances her way. If she got bent out of shape every time someone with enhanced senses claimed to be able to smell the demon on her… well, she'd have to stop living under the same roof as Wolverine and whichever of his clones is in residence this week, for a start.

"It'll be a new experience." Illyana tells Strange, when he questions her offer. "Besides, what's the worst that could happen?" Her smirk shows that the question isn't remotely serious. Her tone's markedly different when she speaks again. "I'd think about what she said, Stephen. This doesn't make a lot of sense. Maybe someone wanted you to take this…" She hefts the wand again, "Out of where you had it contained? Maybe there is no other wand, no other fragments, and this is the prize?" Illyana shrugs again, then glances at Vivienne. "So, want to come with me to meet an alien God-demon?"


"Well, I do have in my possession, one of the best demon-poking sticks, I'm told, in the world, possibly in many worlds. So lead on, MacDuff. What could possibly go wrong?" Not that Vivienne looks anywhere near as flippant as she sounds, but when you're being asked to travel to the realm of demons, with a demon to potentially face off against a demon…sometimes you need the witty repartee to prevent yourself running and screaming in terror.


Strange gives the women an odd look, while Wong seems surprised. "It is not necessary for the two of you to go. Particularly you, Ms. Benoit." For Illyana it is dangerous, but she is also a Shard Realm ruler and very adept to travel. "Cyrus Black should be found, and I have little doubt he is in the tri-city area at the moment."

He reaches for the Wand, it should go back to its cage. But now that Illyana now knows where it, she could retrieve it. Not easily, maybe, but Strange is sure she can manage should he be unavailable. "You are right - this could also be a trap. But I doubt Watoomb himself is involved."

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