Origin: Doctor Strange

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xfiend1013
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Origin: Doctor Strange

Post by xfiend1013 » Tue Mar 13, 2007 9:30 am

The mountaintop looked like hell on a day without any damned. The shattered, crumbling rock looked more like the valley of Armegadon than a Tibetan retreat – it looked like the place where the world had ended.

It almost had been. This remote mountain peak was where Stephen Strange, the sorcerer supreme of the Earth Dimension, had unleashed an apocalyptic weapon, unknowable to the mass of mortal men, devastating the Chrell, allowing the innumerable sacrifices to turn the tide of battle.

This was also a place where Francis Kaner had lost a friend, a mentor, a teacher – and now, he hoped that here, amongst the swirling green fog and jagged, pitted rock, he would discover the ultimate fate of his friend, Stephen Strange.

”And the Eye of Agamotto. And the Book of Vishanti. And the entrance to his planar library.” Francis reminded himself as he walked over the blasted rock, crushing the brittle stones underneath his boot. He walked with the limp he had carried since childhood, and the uneven terrain forced him to steady himself with the ornate staff at his side.

Francis stroked his goatee, ran his long, lithe fingers through his short black hair. He looked the part of Sorcerer Supreme – and while he did not have the magical garments Strange wore professionally, he had still been one of his foremost apprentices.

Since the devastating battle fifteen years ago, Francis had been spending his time in psychic contact with the Ancient Ones, readying himself for this communion, the passing of the mantle from his old Master.

He stared out at the vast blue Himalayas, an ocean that moved on a scale incomprehensible to man, towering white-capped waves of rock that flowed through Eternity.

This was the spot – the place where, decades ago, Stephen Strange had assumed the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme from the Ancient One. Francis could feel it only because he of his endless training, his innate awareness of the mystic strands of power beyond normal perception.

Here, he needed salt. He opened a pouch, pinched salt between his fingers. Salt – necessary for human life, more valuable than gold at many points throughout human history, and here, Francis would not have traded this days’ worth of Centurion payment for a years’ worth Imperial gold.

This place was haunted, by demons and the dead, drawn here by the power Doctor Strange had wielded, the death of the Sorcerer Supreme and so many others was like an ethereal magnet. Here, on the moutaintop, the specters and demons would never approach someone with his power and perception. On the Astral Plane, though, they would certainly assault him, ravenously seeking him out, to either try and absorb his soul, or to willingly be obliterated rather than continue their tenuous existence between the spaces of Reality.

Unless he was protected. He carefully drew a circle with the salt, then began chanting before he began to draw a line, beginning at the thirty-third degree, crossing the circle. He drew another line, another, another – seven in all, creating a pentagram of protection inside the ritual circle.

His chant continued, his breathing slowed, even as he began burning a bundle of sage and tulsi, the Hindu Holy Basil. Caution was crucial here, as it was in any spot where the threads of reality ran thin.

Francis sat, folding his legs and arms into the sacred Lotus position, and began, without conscious thought, the pranayama breathing, the control of his vril, his chi, his life force.

Whatever it is that you want to call it. Strange had told him, once, during one of their first meditative sessions, shortly after he had left his life as a stage magician to learn from the elusive Occultist.

His mana controlled, he began to shut down his senses, the ancient art of Pratyahara. His sense organs still functioned, but they told him nothing, he heard nothing, he saw nothing, he smelled nothing, and finally, he felt nothing, not the cold wind, not the hard rock beneath him. He traveled into his own mind.

Now, dharana. There was no distinction between himself and the meditation, between himself and the wind or the mountain that continued beyond his experience. Normally, a yogi would concentrate on God, or the Self, or Principality, or something greater than he – but now, Francis concentrated on the memory, no longer his own, of Stephen Strange.

And, finally, dhyana. Freedom from thought, from emotion, a place of nothingness, a place of the infinite. His mind drank from the infinite, traveled into it – he could take everything he ever needed from the infinite and infinity would still remain.

Francis Kaner left his body and soared over it, sightless as he towered over Tibet, as he saw China though it were a map, as he passed over all of Asia, as he saw Earth as though it were a globe, higher and higher – though now it was out, now that up and down were meaningless – OUT of the solar system, out of the galaxy…

Then, he entered the Astral Plane.

“Apprentice…” Said a voice without sound. “…you have found me, though it has not been long.”

“It has been fifteen years, master.” Francis thought, a wordless transmission.

Then, Stephen Strange appeared. Francis did as well. The two were scaleless, standing there on the spot in the Himalayas where Francis sat, breathing once every few minutes.

“What happened?” Francis asked.

“I forget the details, they were lost as my mind shattered.” Strange said. “I called upon the power of Gaia to… to… cause this. To protect her from a final attack.”

“Master, I have completed my training. I have attained the Liberation of the Magical Will. I now know that this is an unending initiation into greater and greater mystery, that there will always be one more question than there are answers. I practice my art without fear.”

“Then it is good. Fear is the little death, the death of the mind, the forerunner of all failure.” Strange said. “I pass onto you, my apprentice, Francis Kaner, the mantle of the Sorcerer Supreme.”

“Thank you, master.” Francis said. He bowed and recited the litany of the Sorcerer, spoken in a dead language written in an alphabet most men cannot comprehend.

“You have learned the sixty-four letter alphabet of God.” Strange said. “Most impressive. But you still need the access to my planar library, locked to all men but me. And now, it will allow you entry.” He looked off into the Astral spaces between spaces and Francis felt something in his chest, burning. The knowledge to open the door to the Sanctum Sanctorum.

“The book of Vishanti, master. The Earth is still in many dangers. I need the book, and the Eye.”

“The book exists yet, though it was obliterated here with my body, and my cloak of levitation. I would give it to you if I could, but you must one day travel back in time to retrieve it from the Priests of Marduk, just as the Ancient One did.” Strange spoke without speaking, and turned to look at the ground. Here, he could see through it as though it were porous and emitted a faint green light. It was though the mountain was a holograph.

Then, they fell through it.

“Down.” Strange said. “When the Earth was split to release the energy, the Eye of Agamotto fell here, endlessly, to be trapped forever – on the material plane. Here, we can easily reach it, bring it back. It is one of the few items you will be allowed to carry onto the Astral Plane, apprentice.”

“Still calling me apprentice, Master?” Francis asked.

“Only because I am dead. The Book of the Dead offers some insight into my situation. To me, time does not function as it does for you. It is much like time spent on the Astral Plane.”

“I do not understand.” Francis said.

“The most useful of all words of wisdom.” Strange replied. They were far below the Earth now, traveling in a gelatinous mass that, even here, seemed to hinder their movement.

“It is irrelevant.” Strange said, one of his favorite phrases. “Here, look.”

Eyeless, Francis looked. A massive ritual circle, much like his own, throbbed with energy. It was a pentagram in a circle, containing a square in the middle, which contained a pyramid – which contained a massive, lidless eye.

“The eye in the Pyramid.” Francis whispered.

“Do they still put it on money?” Strange asked.

“Yes.”

“Odd, that.” Strange sighed. “Sit. We must meditate here, mentally. This reunion has stirred emotion in you, has forced you to remember things. This will prevent you from taking the Eye to the Material Plane, apprentice.”

“Yes, master.” Francis said. He folded his legs, floating above the eye.

“Since my cloak of levitation was destroyed, I must teach you a method of rapid transport closed to many. You know how to access other dimensions, and then travel back to your own?” Strange asked.

“Of course, master.” Francis replied.

“Good. It is an imprecise and draining experience, unless one makes use of the Ley lines and the myriad of ritual sites.”

“I will study the maps of the lines closely upon my return, master.”

“You are an excellent apprentice.” Strange said. “Study the maps, learn the sites from which and to which you can travel. Stonehenge, the Pyramids, most churches, ritual halls, even many government buildings, burial mounds, and forgotten ruins can transport the mystic adept.”

“I’ll remember that when I pay my taxes.” Francis said.

“You have not paid taxes since 1977.” Strange said in a mechanical voice – the voice of one accessing the Universal Library.

“Joke, Strange.” Francis said. He briefly considered that he was not saying anything, that neither he nor Strange were where they were. But his mind, trained well, refused to be bothered by the fact.

“You must go now. You can travel back to New York, or to many other places. You have the eye. You can access my Sanctum Sanctorum. The book of Vishanti will wait for another day.”

“Stephen, I…”

The earth pressed around him and suddenly he felt, and then he heard a scream, far off, distant.

Himself. Screaming. His mind quickly returned, and he fell back, his heart pounding.

In his hand was the Eye of Agamotto.

Francis Kaner was now the Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme.

He would call himself Doctor Strange.

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