(Seven Years Earlier)
Warren Traveler stands in a rundown “magic shop” in New York City, a minor emporium of mystic items and novelties. He peruses the stock, noting how most have little real magic to the at all. Despite this, there is an item here called the Eye of Watoomb that he has been seeking for a long time.
He converses with the elderly shop owner, feigning ignorance and concealing his true mystic prowess. He claims to know nothing about the Eye and the shopkeeper condescendingly explains the item’s significance. While the shopkeeper relates the origins and powers of the Eye, Traveler uses his mystic skills to begin defusing a mystic hex that protects the shop from attacks.
The owner explains that the Eye is all that remains of a great wand and that this item is more powerful than he could imagine. When Traveler has finished unlocking the hex that protects the shop and its owner, he utters a single word “Patefacio”. The shopkeeper is taken by surprise as a lion composed of emerald energy manifests and swiftly mauls him to death.
Traveler notes that he should have waited until London to use the Eye but is too anxious. He stops in a pub and goes to the dank and messy men’s room. He has spent years seeking this power and realizes that like all power of this nature, it comes with a price. He stands over the sink and cuts out his right eye with a blade. He says some words, an incantation to Watoomb, as he inserts the Eye of Watoomb into the now empty and bloodied socket. He then looks at himself in the mirror. A jagged scar runs down the right side of his face and the Eye of Watoomb glows with power.
Carol Danvers is just a tad overwhelmed. She has just returned from Georgia and a battle against a mysterious alien entity called Cru which nearly claimed her life. She is shocked to find a throng of reporters outside her apartment and a full news crew inside waiting to interview her!
Lori Griffin, host of Super Powers talk show, gushingly introduces herself to Carol who is shocked by the whole thing. Her agent, Sarah Day tells her she left a message on her cell about the interview and Carol confesses that she lost it. Sarah tells her that she’ll take care of that as they get ready to start the interview. Carol is a bit dismayed and asks how they got into her apartment. Sarah says that she had a set of keys made, for security purposes and when Carol begins to protest, Sarah tells her that it was all part of the agreement she signed when she took her on as a client. She then shifts back to the interview which is no longer a “where are they now” puff piece but a full-on interview in the wake of the Georgia disaster.
Sarah chides Carol for not consulting her first but assures her that one cannot buy press like they are getting following the deaths in Georgia and all the questions regarding her presence there. Unfortunately, these unanswered questions also include plenty of assumptions that Carol was to blame for the tragedy. Lori chimes in and tells Carol that she’d love to get her reaction to the Super Hero Registration Act. Carol replies that she hasn’t had time to review it in detail but it sounds like a good idea.
They sit chatting while the crew preps the lighting; a faint sound of “SHROOMP” can be heard accompanied by a subtle flash of light. Lori then notices a fluffy cat on the back of the sofa and asks Carol its name. Carol says she doesn’t know and that she doesn’t have a cat. She then recalls the last time she saw the cat and the meaning of its sudden appearance dawns on her. In a flash of lights, she changes into her costume as she shouts for everyone to get out now! Lori and her crew look dumbfounded for a second before the room is rocked by an intense explosion.
Warren Traveler emerges from the blast, garbed in a cloak, tunic and bits of armor reminiscent of a medieval warrior. He greets Carol by name and tells her they have unfinished business. He then makes his standard attempt to kill Carol. She shouts for him to get out as she struggles to block his deadly spell with a blast of her own energy. He utters “Nunc pro tunc”, a spell he uses frequently to side-step in time to another nearby location. He appears behind Carol and reminds her that last time they met he vowed to kill her.
She retorts that he also had worse fashion sense last time and asks when he went “all Lord of the Rings”. He ignores her banter and slams her to the ground before unleashing eldritch energy that engulfs her. She cries out in pain. He takes her by the hair as she groans in pain. He notes his surprise that she survived that attack and moves to finish her off.
From a vantage point behind the couch, Lori confirms with her cameraman that he is recording the entire fight. Traveler throws carol to the floor and reminds her that last time he tried to kill her she threw a cat at him! Him! The King’s Sorcerer! Ms. Marvel kicks him in the face, driving him back. Once more she tells everyone to leave, confessing that he managed to hurt her quite a bit and she doesn’t have the energy to protect them all.
At this moment, Traveler comes to and begins conversing with Carol. He recognizes Carol and calls her by name but seems disoriented. He says that it’s been so long since her last saw her and asks that they sit and talk. He comments on the vast changes to the world and speaks in riddles. Carol is confused by this behavior and asks what’s going on. He continues to babble senselessly, mentioning that “Sideways is not where I left it”, until Carol hits him in the face with an energy blast. Before he falls into unconsciousness he looks up pitifully at Ms. Marvel and begs her to help him. Nearby, Sarah Day is stroking the cat and comments on how exciting that was.
Later that night at the Sanctum Sanctorum of Dr. Strange, Carol explains to the Sorcerer Supreme the origins of Sir Warren Traveler as she knows it. She tells him that she last saw Traveler a month earlier during the House of M reality shift and that he (and the cat) disappeared in a time-jump during their latest battle. As Dr. Strange heals Carol’s arm, she explains that she put Traveler in jail a few times and that when they first met in Hell’s Kitchen, his face was bloody and he was randomly setting things on fire before she took him down.
Carol looks down to see that her arm is now fully healed. She thanks Dr. Strange and notes that nothing Reed Richards did seemed to help. Strange tells her the wound was not of this world and suggests she keep an eye on it. He notes that she should be fine given her natural healing factor.
He then turns his attention to Traveler, who is bound to a large chair and speaking incoherently. Strange looks upon Traveler with mystic sight and sees that the magical energies about him are becoming unclean as Traveler touches them. He suspects that whatever is happening between Traveler and these mystic forces is also responsible for his seeming madness. Stephen questions Carol further on her ties to Traveler. He asks if she knew him prior to the House of M situation. Carol replies that when reality shifted, she felt as if she had known him for years but in the true scheme of things she only met him after reality was restored following the House of M reality warp.
Carol suggest that Traveler may have gotten some opportunities within the House of M reality that he never got in the normal course of things. She thinks he was never meant to have these chances to begin with.
As she says this, Traveler’s expression turns from one of befuddlement to one of grim determination. He utters the words, “Sings to me of other places” which catches Dr. Strange’s attention. Again he mentions “sideways” saying that “…Sideways might be where it belongs.” Carol notes that he might not be making sense but he’s certainly punching her less. Strange notes that this is largely due to the Crimson Bands of Cytorrak which restrain Traveler. Carol sassily tells Dr. Strange not to be a “buzzkill.”
Strange theorizes that Traveler’s jump from one reality to the next has caused him to become out of sync with the magic forces he wields. This could be the source of his erratic behavior and would eventually impair his ability to intentionally channel mystical energy. Carol sees this as a good thing given his track record but Strange clarifies that he may be even more dangerous when he has no intentional control over these mystic forces.
As Strange explains the consequences should Traveler have unleashed all of these energies at once, Wong interrupts with a package for Carol…from Sarah Day’s office! Dr. Strange notes that Sarah is wonderful and handles all of his press. Carol opens the package to find that it’s a new cell phone. It rings and Carol answers. It’s Sarah who is thrilled Carol got the phone and tells her that it’s all programmed with her old numbers and everything. She even got Peter Coyote to record the greeting!
Carol starts to ask how Sarah managed to get all her numbers from her old phone and Sarah explains that their building’s security scans all cell phones and stores their information. Carol is clearly taken aback but has little time to express this. Sarah informs her that she has booked a room for her at the Ritz until her apartment is patched up. The booking is under the name Linda Danvers, which Sarah assures her is a name no one will have any interest in. She also tells her that the hotel has agreed to let her have her cat there as well. Carol begins to protest that she doesn’t have a cat but Sarah cuts her off and urges her to check in to the hotel and take a hot bath. She assures her that she’ll take care of everything.
Carol tells Stephen about these latest developments and he tells her it’s so nice she has a cat. He then continues his explanation and suggests that Traveler may be tied to her in some way, given that he disappeared during the House of M when he was near her and reappeared in her apartment weeks later. He theorizes that everything on Earth was shifted and restored at the end of the House of M but that Traveler was not present when this occurred and is somehow still tied into the mystic forces of the House of M reality. He is thus using Carol as a contact or anchor in this “new” reality.
Strange notes that the two of them are not having a positive effect on each other. Carol asks what they should do with him and Strange says that he wants to see how Traveler behaves when he is not in proximity to Carol. He tells Carol he needs some time alone with Traveler and will update her in the morning. She wonders if he’ll be okay alone with Traveler and the good doctor assures her that he is in the safest place in the world to deal with the likes of Traveler given the dozens of protective charms and hexes he has in place there and around Traveler currently.
Ms. Marvel apologizes for showing up and dropping this in his lap, but Strange assures her that it is fine and urges her to get some rest. Carol reluctantly bids him good night and he does the same.
Once Carol has left, Strange turns to Traveler and tells him that he can stop pretending. Traveler immediately and coherently responds. He snidely retorts that Strange was doing his share of pretending as well and that his story to Ms. Marvel about how she and Traveler were linked and that this is the cause of his insanity was rubbish.
Strange replies that he stretched the truth and that while he believes that there is a connection between Traveler and Danvers, he does not think that she had anything to do with his babbling. Strange stops mid-sentence and backhands Traveler. He tells Traveler to stop probing the magics in the room and to remember that he is the Sorcerer Supreme and not a rank amateur. Traveler tells Strange that he can take his accusations of fakery and shove them. He has been mentally unhinged for the better part of the day and had a very difficult time as a result.
Strange tells him that “difficult” will be lying again to Carol Danvers and telling her that he banished Traveler to some alternate reality. He hopes that she will believe him. Traveler asks what he actually has planned and Strange reveals that he is going to sever his connections to the mystical forces of the universe. Strange explains that this is his only course of action, as Traveler will either explode due to his uncontrolled magical energies or must be sent to an alternate reality where he can control them.
Strange refuses to allow him to wreak havoc in another realm. He also makes it clear that he won’t allow a woman as lovely as Ms. Marvel to bear witness to the terror of a man being torn away from the mystic forces.
As Strange turns to draw a book from the shelf, Traveler escapes his bonds and says
“Patefacio”. Strange turns around to see Traveler with the Wand of Watoomb. He cries out the name of the mystic artifact in surprise. Traveler declares that he thought it felt familiar somehow as he strikes Strange across the brow with the wand. The Sorcerer Supreme falls unconscious at his feet. Traveler says that the Wand settles his mind and makes him feel complete. He hovers menacingly over Dr. Strange as he declares that things are now “downright perfect”.