In the dead of night, a man rushes down an alleyway. He puts a hand against a brick wall, slapping his blood along the bricks. ‘Not much farther. Just another block, I think’ the man tells himself. ‘I can make it. Got to--’ He looks up to a sprawling skyscraper, and tells himself ‘Heard that he had moved to that weird skyscraper. Then the doorman said he’d moved to some creepy brownstone. If anyone can save me, it’s him. He’s the supreme master of the mystics arts on the entire planet’. The rugged man sees the building up ahead - the sanctum of Doctor Strange. The man reaches out for the door knocker, but his blood covered hand slides down the door as he collapses, leaving a trail of blood down the door - that pools around him as he clutches his chest - a dagger firmly stuck in him. ‘Oh, my -’ gasps Wong as he answers the door, before crouching beside the unlucky man and telling him to be still while he gets the doctor.
Wong races back inside, leaving the man clutching his chest, and an instant later, Doctor Stephen Strange appears, ‘You didn’t touch him, Wong?’ Strange asks. ‘No’ Wong assures the Sorcerer Supreme. Dr Strange explains that the man’s aura is heavy with enchantment, and looms over him, the first step, he knows, is to remove the dagger from the man’s chest. Strange tugs at the dagger with eldritch force, but the dagger resits him. ‘The man is bleeding to death! Pull it out!’ Wong exclaims. But Strange reveals that the knife is a trap, so he cannot remove it, and asks Wong to fetch his medical bag - and some pliers.
Strange begins to massage the wounded man’s life force, slowing down his vital signs to stanch the flow of blood. Dr Strange’s magic works on him, but the dagger is somehow impervious. Strange projects his catastrophe magic through the lens of the Eye of Agamotto, hoping that while he waits for Wong he can learns something about his “patient”. The man rises before Strange on a bed of mist, and Strange realizes that he should have recognized the man before - he is Eric Simon Payne, a one-time cultist who has since been at war with the agents of the supernatural - and when the two of them met, he called himself the Devil-Slayer. ‘What enemy of his did this?’ Strange wonders, before Wong arrives with the medical bag and pliers.
Strange asks Wong to take the pliers and remove the knife from Eric’s body. ‘Me? But - didn’t you say it may be a trap?’ Wong asks. Strange explains that it is a trap for magicians, but not common men. ‘Ha. Common men? Very well’ Wong replies as he crouches down and uses the pliers to remove the dagger. Dr Strange congratulates Wong on his good work, but cautions him to avoid actually touching the dagger, before bidding his cellular phone from his coat pocket, he exclaims ‘911’.
In seven minutes, paramedics from St Vincent’s screech to a halt at Strange’s stoop, and he explains what he needs to do - reaccelerate Payne’s vital signs, he proceeds to let the paramedics do their work, and as he watches them, recalls that once he would have been able to perform the heart surgery that Devil-Slayer will need. The ambulance then screeches away, so Strange turns and walks inside, with Wong asking ‘And what do I do with this?’ as he holds the dagger up using the pliers. ‘Bring it in, Wong. Bring it in’ Strange replies.
Hovering into a library of sorts, Strange tells himself that he does not need magic to sense that here is still a veil that hangs between he and Wong, before asking Wong to bring the dagger into the light. Strange examines the dagger and sees an inscription engraved upon it - an ancient Aramaic. “Seven blades for seven sorcerers. By midnight they shall die”. ‘What does that mean?’ Wong asks. Strange sits down and announces that it means his old enemy, Silver Dagger, is up to something. The dagger hovers before Strange as he reminds Wong that Silver Dagger was the man who would be pope - who has vowed to eradicate all magicians in the name o God.
Strange realizes that the challenge is designed to make him chase around the planet, exhausting precious energy. Strange’s participation in the 5000 year War of the Vishanti has left him exhausted, yet he knows that if he do not take the bait, others like Payne will be slain. Strange tells himself that Silver Dagger knows him well, that he cannot refuse his challenge. Strange knows he cannot ascertain the sort of enchantment around the blade, let alone remove it, but assuming that the other six blades are enchanted similarly, he may be able to use this one as a mystical compass. The blade begins spinning around, while Strange’s astral form departs his physical body, as it is the quickest means of travel.
The dagger stops spinning, coming to a halt, Strange supposes that the dagger is pointing in the direction of what is presumably the next closes knife. ‘You realize Silver Dagger means for you to gather the seven knives’ Wong points out. Strange replies that he is aware of that, but it seems he is obliged to prevent any further murders. ‘Look after my body till I get back, will you?’ Strange asks as his astral form follows the dagger as it soars out of a window. ‘If all he wanted to do was kill the other magicians, why would he inform you about it in advance?’ Wong wonders, looking at Strange’s body.
Meanwhile, in Nepal, a monastery is built into the side of a treacherous cliff. Americans are seldom accepted into the Order of Low Men, but James Mandarin impressed the High Lama by fasting outside the temple gates for three months. Unmoving, in silence, James Mandarin has spent the past four years now chanting and meditating with his fellow Low Men, trying to get in touch with the divine in him. Today, however, someone comes who will try to get in touch with the mortal inside him - as a man dressed in the same red robes that the monks wear approaches the circle where James Mandarin sits. The new arrival pulls a dagger from under his cloak.
At that moment, Dr Strange’s astral form enters the monastery, and realizes that it is not that different from the one where he trained in the mystic arts a lifetime ago. But he senses that there is death afoot here, and knows he must intervene, although there are strict limits on what he can do in his intangible, astral form. But Strange sees that James Mandarin is having an out-of-body experience at the moment, so he “borrows” his body, possessing the monk, Strange saves his knife, but knocking back the assassin. The blade falls from the assassin - and Strange prevents it from striking James Mandarin. Strange works his magic on the second blade, and seeing no other weapons on the assassin, he returns to his astral form, as there are other lives in danger, he has no time to subdue the assassin, instead having to leave him to the monk’s mercy.
Strange’s astral form proceeds now to follow the two blades as they lead him towards the next. He knows that Silver Dagger wants him to find the assassins, not to mention running him ragged while he does it. ‘But what danger awaits at the location of the last dagger?’ Strange wonders.
Meanwhile, in Berkley, California, twenty-something Jennifer Kale, one-time apprentice to Dakimh the Enchanter, has taken a sabbatical from her mystical studies to have a normal life. “This will help make me a more rounded person” she told the aged wizard. The wizard bought it, and on this autumn afternoon, life is good, as on the university campus Jennifer and her friend Denise are enjoying the afternoon sun. ‘That boy Chris sat next to you again, Jen. That means something, I tell you!’ Denise exclaims. ‘Go on’ Jennifer replies, to which Denise exclaims that once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times means something. ‘I read that somewhere’ she assures Jennifer, who looks sceptical, and while sipping a soda, replies ‘You think so? He is kinda hunky’. ‘Make that move, girl!’ Denise urges her friend.
“Make the move”? Jennifer repeats, asking what kind of advice that is. ‘You know how flustered I get. I wouldn’t - know - what?’ Jennifer begins, unaware that a young man on a skateboard swiftly approaches her, armed with a dagger. But Jennifer sees a strange reflection in Denise’s glasses, and a voice urges her to protect herself, as she is in danger. ‘Why are you looking at me so strange?’ Denise asks, before Jennifer suddenly shoves her friend out of the way, and casts a spell as the skateboarding assassin is almost upon her - she causes the pavement to rise up and propel the assassin into a tree. ‘A knife’ Jennifer thinks to herself as she sees the dagger fall to the ground, while the assassin’s skateboard vanishes.
Jennifer wonders whose reflection it was that she saw in Denise’s glasses, while Denise asks ‘What the heck happened to that hot-dogged?’ Jennifer claims that she doesn’t know and suggests he hit a bump in the pavement. Denise crouches beside him and announces that it look like he has been hurt. Jennifer replies that she will phone for an ambulance, and walks away, firstly to go and get the dagger. She leans into pick it up and sees that it is not your common punk’s switchblade, but suddenly, Strange’s astral form appears overhead, telling Jennifer not to touch the dagger flies as it up to him. ‘Doctor Strange!’ Jennifer exclaims Strange telepathically informs Jennifer that he needs the dagger, and asks her to report the youth to the authorities, as he may be involved in some anti-magic cult. ‘Three daggers one causality. That’s one too many!’ Strange tells himself as he follows the three daggers onwards.
Back in Manhattan, ‘He’s bound to have left his lair by now’ Silver Dagger thinks to himself as he lurks in an alley. He decides that he can go down and break into Strange’s sanctum, and await his return. ‘By dawn he will have returned with the seven daggers that will rid the earthly kingdom of his demonic presence forever…as well as cleanse my immortal soul!’ Silver Dagger then vanishes in the darkness.
In Casablanca, Rama Kaliph is here on business. A rare Assyrian occult artifact is rumored to be on sale here, and he intends to buy it for his collection. But as he makes his way through the bustling market place, he is unaware that an assassin in beggar’s clothing has a different artifcat for him - a dagger - which he plunges into Kaliph’s back, causing the man to cry out in agony. Nearby, Dr Strange’s astral form, with the three daggers, approaches. All the astral travel is taxing on strange, who prays that he is not too late - but as he hovers over the marketplace, he sees his friend Rama lying motionless in a pool of blood.
‘I am too late. They got to you before me’ Strange tells himself, apologizing as he detects that Rama’s spirit has left his body. ‘I will return and see to your affairs. But first I must remove your murder weapon’ Strange assures his friend, as the dagger slowly rises before the amazed crowd that has gathered. Strange’s astral form continues on its journey, with the fourth dagger, hoping to prevent further assassinations. ‘The knife - it flies!’ one of the shop keepers calls out. ‘Quickly, Habib - before the police blame us!’ another exclaims.
Meanwhile, at Mount Athena, in Upstate New York, site of the US Government’s clandestine energy research project, and current home of the extra dimensional investigators known as the Squadron Supreme. Arcanna Jones a.k.a. Moonglow walks alongside a scientist called Sheldon, who informs her that it is looking grim, as Congress is slashing their budget, that three floors are already shut down, and he fears extra-dimensional research will be next. ‘Where will that leave the Squadron, I wonder?’ Arcanna asks, before thanking the scientist, Sheldon, for the information. ‘Remember, you didn’t hear it from me’ Sheldon tells Arcanna. ‘Right’ Arcanna replies as she presses a button on an elevator, which opens as Sheldon leaves.
‘Hi’ Arcanna greets a soldier in the elevator. ‘Lo’ the soldier replies, while Arcanna realizes that she has never seen him before. Suddenly, the soldier grabs Arcanna from behind: ‘DIE, WITCH!’ he shouts as she shoves the dagger through her back. Arcanna falls to the elevator floor, while Dr Strange’s astral form enters a moment later. ‘Am I too late once more?’ Strange asks himself, before telepathically commanding the assassin to throw himself against the wall, which he does, knocking him out.
Strange suddenly senses movement behind him and sorcery all around. ‘Arcanna?’ Dr Strange asks as he sees Moonglow standing behind him. Arcanna assures Dr Strange that she is okay, as the assassin stabbed an illusion, nothing more. ‘Thank goodness!’ Dr Strange gasps, before explaining to Arcanna that he wished he had time to explain, but needs her to have someone take the dagger outside so he can levitate it away.
The Canadian Rockies, where Dr Michael Twoyoungmen a.k.a. Shaman, former member of Canada’s now disbanded premiere super hero team, Alpha Flight, finds himself battling a snow creature of mythic proportions. ‘So once again your kind has the audacity to manifest on this plane. I will make you regret this sojourn, Great Beast!’ Shaman exclaims. The mystic leanrs that the Great Beast who slobbers over him is fast when the creature attempts to swat Shaman away - ‘I am faster!’ Shaman boasts as he catapults himself backwards, escaping the Beast’s attack. From his medicine pouch, Shaman throws some pulverized lark’s claw, and the creature falls to the snow covered ground.
Shamans’ powder crystalizes the liquids in the creature’s body, meaning if he does not return to his realm, he will die. But nothing happens. The creature remains lying in the snow. ‘Come, creature! I am waiting. You may dematerialize now’ Shaman exclaims. ‘Go back, join your brethren in the realm of the Beasts!’ But suddenly, the creature convulses and Shaman is knocked off of it. ‘Does it still live?’ Shaman wonders, when he notices the dagger floating nearby. Doctor Strange’s astral form rises from the snow creature, and informs Shaman that while he fought the Beast, he was being stalked by a human assassin, who flees. ‘What - who?’ Shaman asks. Strange tells Shaman to capture the assassin and he may reveal his plot.
Shaman reaches into his medicine pouch, ‘Assassin! You cannot escape - the reach of my magic!’ Shaman calls out as some sort of twister emerges from the medicine pouch, and retracts back to the medicine pouch with the assassin in tow. ‘You are lucky I closed my pouch before you reached it!’ Shaman tells the assassin, before asking him who sent him. ‘I - I -’ the assassin replies nervously as Shaman looms over him. Dr Strange tells Shaman that time runs out, and collects the dagger, assuring his associate that they will speak later, as he takes flight once more. Shaman waves to Dr Strange.
‘I now have the sixth dagger’ Strange tells himself, knowing that there is just one more to go. Hovering in the air, he watches as the six daggers point to his final destination. He follows them - one more dagger to find, but it is seven minutes to midnight. ‘What far corner can it lie in?’ Strange wonders.
‘Inside this house of sin - Strange’s doors may repulse magicians, not most master lock picks’ Silver Dagger thinks to himself as he lurks within Strange’s sanctorum. ‘As I predicted - Strange never left the building - here is his body meditating’ Silver Dagger tells himself as he stumbles upon Strange’s body sitting in the library. ‘He sent his ghost-form around the world on my wild chase’ Silver Dagger realizes. ‘How easy it would be to kill you right now, magician. But there is something you must do for me first’ Silver Dagger exclaims, producing the seventh dagger. ‘All comes to those who are patient’ he remarks as he sits down opposite Strange’s body. ‘And you will come to this - the seventh dagger!’ Silver Dagger exclaims.
‘The seventh dagger, I assume - is for me?’ Strange calls out as his astral form appears, the other six daggers in front of him. ‘Is that you, Strange?’ Silver Dagger calls out. ‘I’m impressed that you can perceive this ethereal form’ Strange admits. Silver Dagger replies that he has been practising, and informs Strange that the seventh blade is not for him - ‘They’re all for you!’ he shouts as he commands all seven blades, which yank out of Dr Strange’s control, swirling around him. Strange knows that the blades cannot affect his astral form, but they can harm his physical form.
But as the daggers swipe down and pierce Strange’s body, it is revealed to only be Dr Strange’s cloak - Wong’s handiwork. ‘Each one of those daggers was imbued with one of the sins you and your ilk have forced me to commit in tyring to rid Christendom of you!’ Silver Dagger calls out. ‘My sins are now yours - and passage to the kingdom of Heaven is mine!’ he booms, but suddenly, Dr Strange steps through a curtain into the library, once more in his physical form. ‘No. it is not’ Strange declares. ‘WHAT?’ gasps Silver Dagger.
With a gesture, Strange uses his catastrophe magic to transform the ceiling and floor, into large teeth which clamp down on Silver Dagger, trapping him. Strange stands before Silver Dagger and tells him that now they will talk. ‘I am not a demon. You are blind to the difference between magic used for evil and magic used for good’ Strange declares. ‘Magic IS evil!’ Silver Dagger booms. Strange remarks that Silver Dagger claims magic is evil, but supposes that his control over the daggers is surely sorcery.
The daggers suddenly remove themselves from Strange’s cloak, as Silver Dagger causes them to strike Dr Strange, but Strange attempts to use his magic to divert them, only the daggers are still immune to his magic. He dodges them - and they clang against the “teeth” which have captured Silver Dagger - all but one of them, which passes through the gaps, and strikes Silver Dagger in the chest. ‘Merciful father!’ Silver Dagger gasps. Strange realizes that the daggers were flung by Silver Dagger with such force, that the villain could not stop them before he was struck. ‘His sins have found him again’ Strange decides. ‘You summoned me?’ Wong asks as he enters the library, where Strange is crouched over Silver Dagger’s body. Strange thanks Wong for guarding his body, and asks him to fetch his medical bag and some pliers….