From the personal memoirs of Doctor Stephen Strange
It is with only the greatest despair that I concluded my time at Tibet.
For reasons I'm sure that you understand my time with the Ancient One had been the most enlightening experience of my life and I felt great shame knowing that it would soon be coming to an end. I had entered the temple with goals that were purely selfish in nature, yet when I left just under a year and a half later my concern was not for myself but targeted towards the well being of all of mankind.
I awoke on my final day with a solemn feeling in my chest. My belongings, both new and old were packed into a small backpack sitting in the corner of my room, a magic seal had been placed on the bag to ensure it was easy to carry yet also able to carry my various commodities. By all regards I was ready to leave, yet I decided to enjoy a warm breakfast before leaving and began to move towards the temple's kitchen.
The artifacts lining the hallways no longer filled me with any fear. So used to them had I grown in my time there that I gave none of them a single thought, save for the stone necklace that rested at the end of the hall. Upon entering the kitchen I was surprised to find it occupied by my master and Mordo, both of whom were chatting cheerfully and ignored my entrance entirely. A little over a year ago this might have annoyed me, yet I was happy to see them both. I pilfered a bowl of exotic protein rolls from the ninth dimension and sat at the end of the table.
"Tell me, Strange." Mordo said after I'd been sat down for hardly even a second. "Now that you're free to go where ever you please what will you do?"
"You know... I'm not quite sure." I admitted. "My landlord's probably had my things evicted by now so I've got nowhere to live. My hands are still broken so being a surgeon's off the table, my family hates me, my ex girlfriend hates me, the guy who runs the Deli on Bleecker hates me and looking back on things I can't really blame any of them." I took a sip of the herbal tea steaming before me, all the while the Ancient One simply watched the two of us in silence. "However... I did notice a good book shop the last time I was in New York. I might head over there, spend a few months reading." What I said next was meant in a purely friendly manner. "What about you, Mordo?"
Mordo opened his mouth to answer only to be cut off by a sharp interruption.
"Young Mordo cannot leave." The Ancient One said in a nasty tone. "The boy has yet to complete his training, and at this rate he may be here for many, many years." That caught me by surprise. Mordo, who had been here longer than I had and who I had assumed was more powerful than I could ever hope to be would apparently be staying long after I'd left.
There was a flash of anger in Mordo's eyes, it was there for just a second but I caught it.
"Yes..." He grumbled. "I still have much to learn." And with that he picked up his plate of food and left the room in an ill tempered hurry.
"Troubled boy." The Ancient One grumbled. He seemed older than he had done when I first met him, his young visage had been replaced by that of a balding man in his thirties yet I didn't understand why.
"I think you're being harsh on him. He's a good man who saved my life up on that mountain top."
The One gave me an annoyed look that quickly shut me up.
"There is much to that boy you do not know." He said while peacefully drinking his tea. "He has many secrets, some of which I hope you never learn."
"Are you alright, master?" I asked. "You look tired." And he did. Even thinking back to that meeting many moons ago I can remember the lines running across his face as clear as day. He didn't look as young as he had when I'd first met him, he seemed to be growing older by the minute.
"Just old..." He sighed while rubbing his eyes. "Sometimes Stephen I feel as if my long life has been nothing but constant battle, even with the quiet solitude I've found in recent times."
"Is it because of your role as Sorcerer Supreme?" I asked. "Maybe you should think about retiring?"
The old man snorted foully and glared at me from across the table. "I am more than capable of protecting this reality a while longer." He said in a low tone.
"Of course you are. I'm sorry."
A silence passed between the two of us, one that I'm thankful for in hindsight. As we sat the Ancient One suddenly gained a shocked expression upon his face. At first I thought he might have sensed something was amiss which was why I questioned him as such.
"Is something wrong?"
Something was very wrong, yet the only response that the Ancient One gave was a low groan as blood suddenly spat from his mouth. He leaned forward in his seat and that was when I saw not only the dagger sticking from his back but the ones who had thrown it.
"I didn't know the Ancient One had taken another apprentice." One of the assassins said as he almost casually pulled out another knife.
"Shoddy bloody intel." The other assassin said as black waves of energy began to form around his body, wrapping around him like a second skin.
My shock at their sudden appearance was quite apparent. My eyes seemed unable to leave the Ancient One's still breathing figure despite the danger I was in yet somehow I managed to tear my eyes away and look at the dark robed men approaching me. Rather foolishly I asked: "C-can I help you?"
The one with the knives stood over me, shock kept my feet from carrying me to safety. "We've come for the necklace." My mind immediately turned to the stone necklace I'd passed on my first day in the temple and every day since. "We'll find it ourselves though, no need to trouble yourself." And with that his hand whipped out, and the knife it was carrying slit my throat.
Watching my illusion fade away was a surprise not only to my attackers but also to myself as I never actually expected my ruse to work. As soon as the assassin had reached towards me I had regained my senses and placed a mystical duplicate of myself upon my seat and made my body largely invisible to the naked eye. With my trickery discovered I revealed myself behind the two men and sent forth a flurry of furious spells and incantations towards them in a desperate effort.
From my hand sprouted a fanged, frozen snake that sprang towards the man making use of black magicks. The serpent bounced off his back, unable to penetrate his defenses. The other man was not as lucky. To him I sent the Icy Tendrils of Iklathon which struck him in the square of his back and entrapped him in a cone of black ice.
In surprise the other man wheeled around and fixed me with a glare that would terrify even the mightiest of mortals. In the time since my visit to Bleecker Street I had made a point of memorizing spells and phrases so as to not stumble as I had done on that fateful day just a few weeks ago. This proved to be most beneficial as the assassin let loose a bright burst of hellfire from his throat that leaped towards me almost excited! My mind was ready though and I conjured up the Shield of Seraphim, causing the fire to pass over me with no damage done.
The assassin was again surprised, this time by my fortitude and quick thinking. He opened his mouth again to say something but I didn't give him the chance as I flicked my wrist towards him and slammed him head first against the walls of the room using the Winds of Watoomb.
Sweating from the fight I checked the man's pulse once I was sure he wouldn't be waking up anytime soon. He had a nasty bruise on his head from where he'd struck the wall but was still very much alive, something I was thankful for as at the time I didn't have it in me to take a human life. I'm a Doctor not a Barbarian.
A faint cough from the Ancient One brought him back to my attention and I ran over to find a heavy stream of blood flowing from his mouth.
"You... fought well, Stephen." He choked out as I wiped blood away from his mouth. "I've never trained a better student..."
"You'll train better." I grumbled, inspecting the knife in his back. It shone purple in the light and I understood that it was no normal blade.
"Those men were from the Dark Dimension." The One croaked.
"I don't care about that right now." I muttered, trying to clean the area around the wound. "Just keep talking and I'll fix you up." My mind tried to think of the right spell. Thanks to my years of medical experience I remained calm and the right one sprang to mind almost immediately. "This might hurt." I apologized.
"It already hurts..." The One groaned. I smiled at that and made use of the Healing Hands of Hasuumm upon the wound. Yet for whatever reason the wound remained. "Listen, Strange." He continued. "I'm not going to make it. My days are over, but the necklace those men were after will still need protecting and the universe will need a new Sorcerer Supreme to protect it." He gasped at a sudden burst of pain. "I... I think it could be you..." He gasped. "You have such a potential for good. Yet it's not up to me... but please. Please, Strange." He begged as his last moments upon this Earth began to take hold. "Please don't let it be Mordo."
I looked the man squarely in the eyes and promised I'd do what he asked though at the time I didn't know why. Whether he heard my promise I'll never know as his head fell back, his eyes slammed shut and his body crumbled to dust in my arms.
Despite having only known the man for a short time I felt a great sorrow, a sorrow that became shared once I heard Mordo enter the room.
"What has happened?" He asked, only to be answered as soon as his eyes fell upon me. His eyes widened and I felt despair fill his heart.
I looked at him, my hands still holding the Ancient One's remains. "Where were you?" I asked, my voice trembling. A few stray tears dripping down my cheeks.
"I... I came as soon as I heard the fighting." He said. "I would have been faster but I thought it was just practice."
"Well it wasn't!" I spat, standing up. My eyes noticed the amulet where the Ancient One's neck had been, it was the one shaped like a closed eyelid. Through no will of my own my hand reached out and placed the amulet around my own neck. "This sanctum of magic has been breached, Mordo." I said. "Whatever these people came here seeking is still here and now there's no Sorcerer Supreme to guard it."
I gave him a grim smile. "Now there's just you and me."
The two of us stood in the messy canteen surrounded by chaos and death, it would not be the last time we were surrounded by such things. Neither of us looked ready for the task ahead.
"What shall we do now?" Mordo asked once the gravity of our mission had set in.
"We'll need a new base of operations." I decided. "And we'll need to bury our master."
"Do you have any locations in mind?"
Again I smiled. My thoughts turned to Bleecker Street, and my time in Tibet came to an end.