Consider the Eruditiovore
Roleplaying Log: Consider the Eruditiovore
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Carol goes to 177A Bleecker St. to ask for advice about the Scarlet Witch.

Other Characters Referenced: Jean Grey, Scarlet Witch
IC Date: July 13, 2019
IC Location: The Sanctum Sanctorum, NYC
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 14 Jul 2019 06:59
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

It's the dead of summer, and wouldn't you know it? It's hot in NYC.

Down in Metropolis, the weather is probably somehow cooler. Not unseasonably so, but it's just one of those places where everything looks so perfect, and that probably includes the climate. Summer heat, sure, but nothing stifling, for all the shiny buildings and sizeable population. In Gotham, of course, it's guaranteed to be muggy. The kind of sweltering humidity that just sticks to you, that's only tolerable in the dead of night and barely so even then.

Bleecker Street manages to be one of the nicer places in Manhattan to visit, even at this time of year. It's not really crowded, though it's hardly empty either, and the locals are pleasant and friendly despite the heat. Of course, there's one particular building in the neighbourhood that some people simply avoid.

On the outside, it looks generally like a normal Victorian townhouse, three storeys in height albeit with a peculiar-looking skylight. There's nothing about it to inflict the casual viewer with a sense of existential dread, and yet… People don't exactly avoid it, per se, but nobody's going up to knock on the front door, either. 177A has a way of lurking, of slipping out of awareness when you're not paying attention to it.

And yet, the weird thing is that people who kneed to visit it - or, perhaps more accurately, who need the aid of its primary resident - always seem to know exactly where to find it.

Of the weekend pedestrians milling throughout Greenwich Village, one of them walks with more purpose than most. Wearing a casual outfit of a light red jacket, baggy enough to let air circulate underneath with the summer heat warming the streets. Denim pants, sneakers, a Red Sox cap with wide-rimmed sunglasses rounding the ensemble. Barely noteworthy compared to most here.

This anonymous woman is the only one pausing at the door of 177A Bleecker Street. Turning with her hands in her pockets, tilting her head up to stare up the short steps to the door with some trepidation.

Internally she knows this is a bad idea. The chances of finding any kind of information here is a long-shot and the potential downside could be extreme. What was it Tolkien wrote?
'Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.'

Its a world she does not understand but she grasps at straws.
With a shift of her shoulders she marches up the stairs and gives the front door a measured wrap with the back of her knuckles. Head tilting forward as she strains to listen for any activity, a difficult task with the traffic behind her.

The door is knocked on, like any other door. Nothing really weird happens, at least not immediately: It doesn't turn into a giant gaping maw to swallow up Carol, or anything like that. Actually, it takes about thirty seconds for there to be any kind of response at all, before the door is pulled open by…

…A woman?

She's maybe thirty years old, with a kind of mousy look that screams 'librarian' on every available frequency. Brown hair and eyes, glasses, pretty plainly dressed. Really not like the sort of person you'd expect to answer the door at the house of the world's most famous sorceror. Though despite the summer weather, she is wearing a knit cap better suited to a brisk fall day than the heart of summer.

"Hi," the woman offers by way of a greeting. "Um. Did you come all the way from Boston? You might wanna do a lap around the block," she says; stress makes her distinctive Bronx accent all the more noticeable. "The Doc is kind of busy with this whole thi—"

The inside seems to… Reorient itself. Nothing happens outside of the townhouse, of course - the interior and exterior of the building only correlate in the most generous of definitions - but inside, 'down' changes directions entirely, and the librarian starts to fall away from the door, into the cavernous living room beyond.

"—iiiiiiiing sometimes I hate you Stephen!!"

Carol made it a point to wash away any assumptions she might have about anyone and anything she sees beyond that door.
So. Mousy Librarian. Some kind of Dragon in human disguise? A thousand year old tree spirit bound to guard the door? .. Strange's niece or something? She doesn't know.
Carol knows that she shouldn't wear her home team's cap but she can't force herself to wear any other logo on her head. And a certain other sunhat is currently ashes floating halfway to Spain right now, thusly she had to take the risk.

As the world on the otherside of the door starts to whirl and reorganize in impossible fashions.. And especially as the woman starts to scream in outrage.. Carol immediately steps in to grab the girl before she can get far. Heroic reflex kicking in as she tries to prevent her from falling in any direction, especially impossible ones.
No matter which direction gravity starts pulling from, if any, Carol will hover in place. Used to the dizzying vertigo of nondirection she'll slowly look around carefully on high alert. Scanning towards the vast living area that seems to be reorienting itself for a guest.
"He isn't one for warning is he.." Carol murmurs as she floats forward at a slow but steady rate, eyes alert for motion of any kind.

There's a subtle pressure, as Carol crosses the threshold of the Sanctum: Even to someone with attuned, magical senses it was nearly imperceptible. A normal human would have almost no chance of even noticing it, as the building's own magical defenses try to keep out anything that shouldn't be in there. Curses and spells, possessing entities, astral hangers-on, that sort of thing. What she wouldn't know is that pretty much everyone has a certain number of clingy little astral mites, things that exist outside of 'normal' perception; to a trained eye, there was a sequence of colourful little *puffs* as the pilot reached through to catch the falling librarian, tiny things that had been snacking on her aura getting annihilated.

Honestly, it's one of those things people are better off not thinking about, like all the tiny fauna that live in their eyebrows.

"He's really not!!" the librarian agrees with Carol's murmur, dangling as 'down' continues to be away from the front door. The weird thing is that most of the living room doesn't seem to have gotten the memo.

No, wait, that's not 'the' weird thing, not even close.

The cavernous interior of the living room - too big to be part of the house that Carol stepped up to outside - looks like somebody crossbred a home with a forest. The floor is covered in a thick, green carpet of for real grass, with visible roots stretching through for the actual live trees that, guessing their age by their size, couldn't have been grown after the house was built. There are chairs here and there, perfectly normal for a sitting room but rather incongruous for a forest, and also now they're unmoving on what is effectively the 'wall'.

At roundabout where the 'floor' is, as far as gravity is concerned, a door opens. From… It looks like the kitchen… A lean, wiry man with wings of grey in his otherwise dark hair looks out and frowns. "No, no," he says. "This isn't right at all. Wong! We need to try—" whatever it is they need to try is cut off when he slams the door behind himself and vanishes back into the kitchen.

"So what was the issue anyway?" wonders the dangling librarian. "Angry ghosts? Did somebody curse your car and now it only runs on the blood of the innocent? Ooh! Wait! Is it the flying, I just noticed you're flying," she says. "Should you not be flying?"

There's an abrupt LURCH as space and time twist to the side, and the conventional idea of 'up' and 'down' reasserts itself, at least for the moment.

The same man who just a moment ago went into the kitchen now comes down the stairs, with the exuberance of someone who's just resolved a thorny problem.

"Ha!" says the wizard. "That'll teach those pixies to try and mess with my house. There might be four or five extra dimensions on the second floor now, but that'll sort itself out sooner or later…"

He trails off as he notices Carol at last.

"Zelma," Strange says to the librarian. "You didn't say we had a guest."

You can almost hear Zelma's blood pressure rise.

Carol is not disappointed, not slightly. She fully expected her understanding of the universe to be tested and it failed miserably.
Her chief concern is to be sure that this librarian isn't being punished in some way by a wrathful wizard. Having no idea of what kind of man Stephen Strange is she has to consider the possibility that Zelma is in some danger for accidentally allowing Carol onto the premises.

Assuming Zelma isn't Dr. Strange himself. Frigging wizard illusions.

As bizarre as this strange landscaped living valley is, she suspects the trees are no illusion. Neither is the odd itch she starts to feel on her skin in the aftermath of those small motes she had seemed to pass.. Was it passing or did they fall off of her? It was hard to tell in the moment.

To the girl's inquiry Carol off-handedly mentions, "Not quite.." Keeping relatively quiet as she isn't sure how much the girl knows. How much the girl SHOULD know. If she doesn't recognize the guest beneath her casual disguise, all the better.
The fewer people who know that Captain Marvel went to Doctor Strange for advice, all the better.

As the man himself appears once.. And then again.. Carol orients to face him each time as if the spire of some unseen gyroscope. Only when gravity seems to settle on a direction does Carol finally place her shoes upon the grass and releasing Zelma gently. She reaches up and removes her wide sunglasses to fully reveal her face to the Doctor. Off-handedly stating, "I let myself in. I hope you don't mind, I have some questions for you Doctor Strange. Just questions." Reiterating that last fact very carefully.

She would not want him under the impression her presence has anything to do with the Registration Act. It could make the situation.. unfortunate.

Once back on solid ground (or whatever passes for it inside the Sanctum Sanctorum, anyway) Zelma totters a little before getting her footing, giving Carol a grin of thanks despite her grievous sin of repping the Red Sox. Then, she stomps over towards the Sorceror Supreme, and steps right on his foot.

"What were you gonna do if there wasn't a flying lady in here??" the librarian demands. She doesn't seem overly concerned with the possibility of getting turned into a newt or anything like that. "I might've gotten splattered all over the wall or something!" She smacks his arm twice, once with each hand. It doesn't look all that painful or intimidating, but you know. "You suck! I'm gonna go order pizza on your credit card."

She gives Carol another bright grin, and them storms off into the kitchen.

Doctor Stephen Vincent Strange, M.D., Master of the Mystic Arts, Sorceror Supreme of Earth, endures this all with the boundless patience of a man for whom worldly concerns have been left long behind. Also, he sticks his tongue out at the door once it shuts behind Zelma.

"Right, well," Strange says, dusting off his arm, as he turns to look at Carol. He adjusts the Cloak of Levitation, which is currently settled over a perfectly normal t-shir—no, wait, it's definitely a blue tunic with some kind of cruciform symbol on the front. Was he wearing that a second ago? "Questions are always good, Carol. Ignorance is one of the great evils of the world, and all. Have a seat." He indicates two armchairs beneath the spreading boughs of an old oak tree, settling down in one quite comfortably. "Can I get you anything? Tea? Coffee?"

"I like her." Carol admits as the librarian administers corporal punishment to Strange's offending limbs. Otherwise waiting in patient silence with arms crossed as she very succinctly gives Strange a piece of her mind.
As she turns to grin, Carol offers an approving nod and the slightest thumbs up as she then leaves to the kitchen to deliver the finishing blow to Strange's credit balance.

Once more she waits as Strange dusts himself off and readjusts that absurdly massive cloak over his .. When did? No, she doesn't question it.
Carol knows she has a limited amount of questions the Master of the Arcane Arts must have the patience of answering, she reserves what stolen audience she's gained for the truly important matters.
Eitherway, she is encouraged by the Doctor's graciousness.. Considering the situation. And if Zelma feels comfortable enough to manhandle him without fear of reprisal well.. At least he has patience. Very good signs.

Her judging gaze moves to the offered seat as she inclines her head, "Thanks." Maintaining an air of professionalism. She may not be here on SHIELD business precisely but she does represent SHIELD. She keeps her feet on the ground as she walks to the armchair, spying the furnishing in brief before settling down into it.
"No thank you. I'll keep my visit brief." Absently removing her cap and placing it in her lap, brushing her short hair back with her fingers as she gathers her thoughts. She had planned out a series of platitudes to speak of first but ultimately dismisses them to get right to the point.

"What do you know about Mutants, Doctor?"

Though Carol turns down the offer of something to drink, the Sorceror Supreme nevertheless turns to the small end table that sits beside the two chairs - it is undisturbed by the roots of the tree, though whether it was placed between them carefully or whether the tree obligingly grew around the table and chairs is impossible to discern - and yep, there's a teapot and cups. At least he takes the time to pour the tea in a perfectly mundane fashion before picking up the cup and saucer, also the way a normal person would.

Reality was particularly malleable inside the Sanctum Sanctorum, as a consequence of a whole variety of things, not the least of which it having been the residence of two powerful wizards for the past few decades, but even here there was such a thing as too much.

And then, Carol Danvers asks him about Mutants.

"I can't say that's the line of questioning I expected," the Sorceror Supreme says, with what is very nearly a laugh. "Mutants, though. Mutants. They're not magic, though a few of them have some ability in the arcane arts. They aren't very popular, on the whole. Oh, and apparently SHIELD was plotting to kill all of them so they destroyed the Triskelion, and let me tell you that did a number on the fabric of reality. Not as bad as the Hell's Kitchen bombings, or the demons everywhere, but it was rather ugly."

With a grimace, he takes a sip of his tea, grey eyes watching Carol over the rim of the cup.

"But why come to me to ask about them?"

The consequence of such a malleable world is that Carol trusts nothing. Even though Stephen's manner has done much to allay her concerns, she still sits stiffly at attention in her chair. Eyes sweeping in slow, methodical scans as she prepares for motion and action at any moment. She doubts he would try to drug her but.. Does she even trust the tea at his table? Is that even a table?

Was there even a Zelma?

Its a world she does not understand even slightly and thus is never perfectly at ease. However she is on a mission. She crossed the threshold and is now committed to getting what answers she can from this mysterious sorcerer.

As he begins she nods once about the unexpected nature of inquiry, though she imagines there are a few who seek him out in advice about mutants.. Or being a mutant. After all, mutation and magic would seem functionally identical to the layman. She's had more than a few random fans come to her and ask where she gets her own 'magical powers'.
Sufficiently advanced and all that.

As he mentions the whole Teragen scandal and the destruction of the Triskelion she frowns. Unable to prevent a facial tick from betraying her dour opinion of the matter. Though the comment about 'fabric of reality' is noted carefully.
"You just touched on it. The destruction of the Triskelion is part of it.." She decides to follow that major thread first with such an organic segue, "I've recently encountered mutants who are.. Exceptional. I.. don't know how to properly describe it but.. They're different than the others. The terrorist known as Scarlet Witch is one of them. She's the one that tore a hole in reality.. If that's what that was. I.."
Eyes growing distant, "Encountered her personally recently. There was a Brotherhood attack on a technology firm. She tore the facility apart and .. It looked like a blackhole except it wasn't.. I felt.."
Before her tone drifts further she focuses on Stephen and asks with ferver, "I want to ask what you know about her. Her abilities.. I.. don't think they're entirely mutation. I think there's something else but.. I have no idea what."

There are a lot of stories about the relative dangers of crossing just such a threshold. About the costs of getting answers from a powerful wizard, especially without setting the terms beforehand.

It might be reassuring to know that those stories are a lot of old bunk, at least half the time. The other half, unfortunately, they're right on the money. Magic, for all its vastness and power, isn't something you can just do without costs or consequences, even when you use it just for obtaining information. As such, even magic types who deal in just information will find ways to pass the cost onto the customer.

And they almost never mean money.

"She's also the one who simply deleted parts of the Triskelion from existence, unless I miss my guess," the Sorceror Supreme muses. In many ways, he wasn't like his fellows when it came to the matter of costs, having his own methods and means for dealing with such. And besides, it wasn't like this was arcanely obtained information Carol was trying to get him to get for her. It was just this: A conversation.

"I can't say that I've ever met the young lady myself, but the impression I get is that she's more complicated than just 'a mutant'. There's no reason why she shouldn't be, magic is something nearly anyone can learn, with the proper time and effort, though some have a… Natural aptitude. Perhaps she's one such."

Carol is not one to baulk about costs. As headstrong as any, when she sees a need she commits with little reservation. It's a great strength in a fighter pilot and warrior.

It's also a great flaw, as a certain mutant found out.

She has no way to compel Doctor Strange to answer any of her questions and thus far he has asked for no compensation for his time. Besides, the matters she brings up here have already cost hundreds of lives and many more yet hang in the balance. If there is one consistent narrative she's heard attached to the Sorcerer is that he is here to help the world. She is boldly putting that axiom to the test.

As he suggests 'magic', she rests her chin on laced fingertips, eyes drifting to the living carpet in consideration, "You think she really is a .. Sorcerer then? As well as a Mutant?"

Hilariously, Carol never really considered that Wanda was an -actual- Witch. As considered earlier, many average people consider Mutants witches by default. There are some fools who think red-heads are witches by default. Carol just thought as a member of the Brotherhood of 'evil' Mutants she was just leaning hard into the fearful stigma in order to intimidate normal humans.

Although that complicates other matters but first she needs to hear his thoughts on that matter.

"I don't really have enough information to draw any conclusions," Strange replies; maybe he's just hedging, though. It wouldn't really help his reputation if he made some definitive declaration that turned out to be false. "But something of an arcane nature happened at the Triskelion. Actually, two somethings, if I recall correctly. I was out of town while it was happening, the Monks of the Inverted Eye needed some help clearing squatters out of their monastery dimension, and then I had to find somewhere to put the squatters, who as it turned out were eruditiovores and… Well, that doesn't really matter," the Sorceror Supreme cuts himself off, realising he's going on a tangent.

Instead, he thinks back to the time immediately after the fall of the Triskelion, when he'd gone to see what had happened on the astral plane rather than visiting physically, to make note of the arcane damage he was going to have to repair.

"Yes, there were two, at least. I would caution against rushing to any conclusions, Carol. Perhaps whatever her mutant power is it simply affects the world in a similar enough manner to sorcery as to make little difference. Perhaps her mutation has given her an increased aptitude for the arcane compared to a normal person. But there was definitely someone else there that night working similarly. Maybe one of SHIELD's pet sorcerors?"

An iconoclastic lot as they are, it's probably not surprising that most magic types don't look too highly on the idea of slinging spells for the Man.

At SHIELD one gains a tolerance for wild and incredible tangents. Just about every Agent she works with is typically in the middle of an adventure of impossible proportion.

But even for someone like Captain Marvel that one takes the cake.
Carol's eyes begin to squint as Stephen describes precisely why he was out of town at the time, jaw slacking as she contemplates what 'eruditiovore' could even mean. Snapping out of it when he cuts himself off, blinking repeatedly before clearing her throat to punctuate that story.

Her eyes drift a moment as Stephen mentions a second factor in play. Reports say a junior Agent did engage the Witch at the time, one with.. Peculiar abilities as well. Maybe there was some sort of interaction there.. She'll have to follow up on it.

Eitherway, as Stephen offers a different lead Danvers gains a dissatisfied look. She does not think he's misleading her, by her measure she believes him. It's just..

Hands leaving their nest together to grip the armrests at her sides, "I.. also met another mutant. She.." This time she is far more uncertain on how to approach this subject. This is not her secret for the telling and she is not about to betray a man and the organization he represents to the Sorcerer Supreme for no good reason.
However, Doctor Strange might be the single greatest expert on the paranormal. She cannot let this opportunity slip past her. However, structuring her words now is clearly something of a struggle.
".. Wasn't a normal mutant either. She was similar to Wanda except.." Her steel gaze returns to Stephen in full. Searching him as if seeking some point just past his eyes, or a region through him, "…Here's the thing. My condition has left me.. Sensitive to .." Mouth working as she searches for the phrase, ".. A cosmic level of awareness lets say. I don't have any better way of explaining it. I can.. Sense things on a different level. It very rarely triggers. Inside of a month it triggers strongly twice. Once with the Scarlet Witch and the other with.. A different mutant. Both of whom possess incredible power but.." She shakes her head, "I've been around other mutants who are stunningly powerful and I don't sense anything from them. I feel.. A connection to it somehow."

The other problem with getting information from wizards is that it might not always be the information you were hoping for.

Though Strange doesn't know Carol personally, he's got enough of an idea of her general manner that he can tell when she's behaving somewhat uncharacteristically: If you were to look at the short list of personality traits he ascribed to her, that quick sketch of 'what is Carol Danvers like?', hesitant and uncertain wouldn't appear anywhere on it.

So, when the woman broaches a subject so carefully, revealing both something of herself and something seemingly adjacent to the mystery of the Scarlet Witch, it catches his attention. It makes him watch her carefully, again, and though she couldn't see it, he starts to watch her with more than just two eyes. If someone who could see into the realm of the arcane were looking at them, they'd see an enormous third eye open on Strange's forehead, the eye that lets him see more clearly beyond the crude material. He can't help it, he's curious, and when Stephen Strange gets curious about something his first instinct is to poke it with a stick.

"Are you sure they're actually mutants, then? Perhaps they're actually connected to the source of your 'condition', as you put it. Or something similar. Or their mutant abilities left them more open to such sources. In my life, Carol, I've learned that the only real rule of consequence is that most every rule is going to wind up broken. We like to categorise things, put them in boxes, but in truth the lines between them are fuzzier than we'd ever like to accept."

As the eye opens, it reveals a gleaming nebula of stars in the shape of a seated woman. Her flesh is a lie. There is nothing 'magical' about her per se, not in the arts most on Earth practice. There is much extra-dimensional about her. The stars that she is shine boldly across many directions beyond the cardinal, superimposed in space and time with many identities and light. Mortal she is not, not any longer. A White Hole, a Well of Stars, and she speaks with the confusion of any human woman.

"I.. Wasn't sure." Carol admits, "I spoke with.. Experts in the field of Mutation and they insisted that they were but I can't back that up." Rapping her knuckles on the armrest.
She exhales with resignation, sagging in her chair as Doctor Strange coaches her in the blurriness of reality. She knows he is right but as usual truth is a bitter pill to swallow. She supposes really this was the best she could have hoped for in this encounter. She half-expected him to throw her out of the house the moment he saw her. Instead he's been pleasant and downright helpful? As helpful as he can be for a Doctor that has had zero preparation and giving answers off the cuff.

In that spirit she straightens, looking back to him, "If you happen to discover more on the subject of Mutants with.. Exceptional connection to other sources.. I would be grateful if you'd get in touch with me. I am aware that you do not see eye to eye with SHIELD's policies these days but.. The Scarlet Witch has already killed a lot of people. We're at a loss on how to deal with her and your expertise may be one of the last hopes innocent people have."

It could always be worse, but fortunately Doctor Strange isn't going to educate Carol in the ways reality is more flexible than most people are capable of comprehending, leading to brain-breaking situations where mutually exclusive things are simultaneously true.

Honestly, she seems like she has enough on her mind already.

"It seems to me that your best bet at this point would be to try and figure out who else was there that night in the Triskelion, with abilities similar to the Scarlet Witch. Perhaps they're able to counteract her directly in a confrontation." Or perhaps not, since a chunk of that building did get erased from existence and the rest pretty much collapsed, but everybody has an off day.

Or perhaps they'd be turning whoever it was into cannon fodder against a dangerously unbalanced and extremely powerful individual.

For Strange, it sadly wouldn't be the first time.

What Danvers asks for does seem simple, doesn't it? Harmless, really. And she's even asking, rather than demanding like he might've worried a representative of SHIELD would under the circumstances. It, and several other things about the way Captain Marvel has been behaving, is rather telling about how this situation must be weighing on her.

"If I learn anything, I will absolutely get the information to you," the Sorceror Supreme says, with a gravity in that baritone voice of his. After all, if the Scarlet Witch really is using magic, and using it to slaughter on such a scale, then she's pretty fundamentally his problem too. "But be careful. Even for someone as powerful as you, Carol Danvers, this business is fraught with terrible danger."

Yeah he always gives warnings like that.

Wizards.

Danvers replies with a mild grunt and nod at the suggestion. That is a lead she did not fully consider. She is aware of the existence of WAND within SHIELD and their paranormal abilities, but she didn't think they might have had a hand in what happened that night. Or at least someone else within SHIELD. Its worth trying to follow up on.
Emphasis 'try' as her pull within SHIELD is muchly diminished in recent months.

Otherwise, the weight of the man's commitment earns a sincere nod of appreciation as she answers, "Thank you." The statement has a tone of finality to it and she rises smoothly from her chair.
She is given pause as the Wizard offers a warning. Her eyes darkening as she takes his words straight with no chaser. He need not preach as she's long since joined the choir. Having looked straight into those two..

Fire and Death.
Cold and Void.

Carol's thousand yard stare implies she knows exactly what Doctor Strange means, "I appreciate your time, Doctor Strange."

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