Three On A Match

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Mac Collector Cinder 10 passes critical success
Item: Essence of Terror on a Dogtag

He never once took his eyes off the dance floor. Especially not the cage. It had been over a year since his time at Barbarous. It was his full-on introduction to killer cage-dancing ghosts, handsome werewolves, and The Wytchgun. He didn’t watch out of fear, more so out of caution and curiosity. It was also the reason why he had Rust scout around the building.

The Byte was paying for all of it. The location, the dancers, and the influencers. All to sell a product to collect data. That and alcohol. A lot of alcohol. So he couldn’t afford to have anything go off with a hitch.

What were they selling again, he said to himself in creole. He opened up his tablet. Ah, dating app and mobile game, he sighed. He had to sell romance. Or at least manage the cover that romance was on the market. The mobile game was a gimmick to encourage folks to “find love” while conquering dungeons. If only that were true, he thought.

After an hour of hyping up drunk twenty-somethings to make a post, and hype up the app, Mac found himself hiding in the shadows of a booth. A bloody red drink in hand. And a vape pen creating a smokescreen of cherry and bourbon. Even through the crowded noise of music and reverie, he could hear the paws coming from the back door.

Rust dropped a pair of dog tags onto the table before finding a spot under the table. Confused, he went to pick up the tag and run his fingers over it. There was something coming off of it. Something he wanted to pluck from it, but felt that it would be better where it was.

Guy was kicked out of the bar Rust said drunk, jittery, and angry…got into a fight outside...lost these but nothing strange.. Mac nodded as he petted the hound on the head.

“ Good work,” Mac said still gripping the tags “, and anyone that saw you…?”

Service animal, do not pet. So they didn’t

“ Awesome, take a break we’re probably going to be here till…hour before close,” he said propping his feet up and smoking. He sat there for a few minutes, eyes closed, taking a sip of his drink. Until a pair of feet walked over. A plume of smoke escaped his lips.

“ How can I assist you?”
Cinder Collector, Exceptional Success
Item, A Hint of Excitement(good)

Markus was still trying to wrap his head around the changes he had seen since completing his first ritual with Mac. At first, it was as if nothing had happened. Then, that night, he had the weirdest dreams and since has had strange feelings, connections, and occasional glances or looks. It's almost as if he, just by extension of using magic, was learning to use and manipulate it.

Recently, he had been working on a bit of charm, spurred from the ritual he did, which he hopes and believes can allow him to use ambient magic to deaden or nullify effects he might come across. But, as of yet, he has not been able to use it. Today, however, he found himself in a club known as Barbarous. The music was loud, and the dancefloor was packed. In the past, he would have had a blast, joining in the atmosphere of the environment. However, now he was much more reserved. Standing at the edge of the crowd, drink in hand.

A shiver would suddenly make its way down Markus's back, the feeling of himself being watched. Glancing over, he would see a small group of women, attractive, dressed up, seeming to move together; one of them was looking his way, smiling, and then giggling to her friend. He would give her a wink and start to turn away when again, that strange feeling overcame him. Without quite knowing what he was doing, he would reach out and feel resistance in the air. Plucking this feeling of excitement coming off the woman, he would almost see it flowing in his hands before looking for something to adhere to.

Markus had collected that moment without even realizing it and placed it into the handkerchief around his glass. Looking at the white cloth, he would raise an eyebrow. He was confused and intrigued. Lost in thought, he decided to place the white fabric into his pocket, saving it for later.

Returning to the bar, Markus would look around; the signs plastered around the area promoted a dating app and romance game combination. One of Bytes' newest productions, it seemed. On principle, Markus didn't download the app, knowing what a scam it probably was, but he could respect the hustle. And, from what he saw, it was working. As the bartender gave him his next drink, suggesting that he try some dungeon in some location within the app, something of interest would catch the redhead's eye, causing him to walk off towards the private seating.

He had not expected to run into the other man, but believing in coincidence in a world of magic was hard. Still, he would smile as the man spoke up, asking if Markus needed assistance. It was apparent he hadn't seen who had approached him yet; Mac had probably been resting.

“No assistance needed, unless you want to tell me a riveting tail of how to 'conquer love in the depths of a dungeon,'” Markus would say to Mac, his tone more joking than anything else.
Mac Collector Cinder 5 passes Exceptional Success
Item: A hint of Ecstasy(Good)

It wasn’t the face he was expecting. At least not this earlier. It was probably better than the others that would come sit at his table. Rust looked up from his seat at Markus and then put his head back down. Mac scratched behind the back of his ears still looking at Markus.

“ Ah that, ” he said putting the pen down “, hmmm, basically an algorithm based on your profile, behavior patterns, and shopping habits are complied together and matches you to a partner, but gamified. ” He showed the app off on one of his phones and sat back looking at the crowd. Mac looked around to see if there was someone else lingering about. He scanned the crowd and then focused his attention back on Markus. He tapped on the screen three times before hitting a feature hidden on the app.

“ In all actuality it’s a hub for…folks like us, ” he said showing a screen with a decorative human skull “, well, folks like us and also want to be like us…we know how to hide in plain sight.” He tapped on the screen thrice, and the app reappeared. A bartender seeming a lot more giddier than usual approached the table. He placed two drinks down laughing to himself. As he started to take away the empty glass on the table, Mac could feel something wafting off of him. Without a single thought, he plucked that excitement from the air and pocketed it.

“ Anyways, I was expecting you to be off playing with the forces of the universe,” he continued “ unless there’s another pull that’s brought you out tonight.”
Mac revealed a secret feature of the app to Markus, who raised an intrigued eyebrow. He clicked on the screen three times and demonstrated how to access a secondary hidden feature. Markus was surprised that such a thing was hidden, especially given the rigorous process for apps to be approved for app stores. However, he realized that Byte was a large company with significant influence, and their app-store connection likely prevented mundane users from accessing the inner workings of the application.

“I was under the impression that it was just another one of those applications that promise the world but never deliver, and you have to pay for it. Now that I know what it does, I might consider downloading it,” Markus said as he scanned a QR code nearby to download the app. However, he refrained from downloading it immediately and instead saved the page. Markus was meticulous about reading app permissions and acceptance pages to avoid granting access to any unwanted information.

As the bartender delivered drinks to the two men, Markus smiled and nodded at him. He observed Mac with interest, noting the way he interacted with the bartender as if he was grasping at some sort of mystical thread. Markus was still trying to understand the nuances and intricacies of components, and he had added several interesting notes on the subject to his flash drive.

“There are only so many hours in a day,” Markus remarked, reclining in his seat and observing the crowd. He found it unusual to see so many people on their phones in a club, but he understood the allure of the dancers, alcohol, and the possibility of meeting someone special. “One of the most important lessons I learned during my studies is that there is only so much time an individual can dedicate to practice, research, studying, or experimentation before experiencing burnout. Even the most dedicated individuals become less productive as they spend more time on a task. Moreover, this city has shown me that any night out is an opportunity for something... intriguing. I have learned more about the supernatural intricacies while riding on those cursed trains than I would have by staring at a screen, to be honest.”
Mac shook his head in response. “ It’s still that but for those out of the know…I mean Mages still have to make money, ” he said taking a sip of his drink. It was one thing to gather metaphysical concepts in physical form, but components that involved precious metals and jewels well, or worse…things that come from the supernatural were expensive. Magic wasn’t cheap and no one wants to skimp out on what is needed. He took another hit of his vape as Markus went into detail. He was already beginning to sound like a practitioner understanding the limits when it came to balancing this life. But the detail that got to him was about the Subway. He let out a plume of smoke.

“ Eventually it becomes so blended into your life that it stops becoming so… time-consuming,” Mac replied “, but tell me more about this trip on the train…cause I’ve had my own recent run in.” Mac sat straight up becoming more interested in the prospects of comparing notes. He was looking to find someone else that had experienced something similar.
Markus would nod and give out a chuckle. “Oh, don't get me wrong, I respect it. Anyway, my own income is certainly not morally white,” The redhead would say, sideglancing at Mac. The truth was, Markus didn't have to worry about money in the same way others did, and he knew that. He and his sister were a strange blend of old and new money between the works of his mother and the father he had never met. Markus knew if he wanted to, he would never have to work. But then his life would be boring.

“That is understandable.” Markus would comment, thinking about the magic he had done. So far, nothing really blended into his day-to-day life. He had learned he had an aptitude for negating and interfering with other magic he came into contact with. But that was only useful if he came into contact with magic. “Well, it was before me, and you met at my warehouse. I was coming back from a nightcap and entered the train station. While on it, the area suddenly changed, as if we were transported to a new world,” Markus would pause, his mind lost in the memory of the time, the water, the draw to never leave. “It was terrifying. If I am being honest, I still don't remember it well.” Markus would finish before looking directly at the other man.

“You said you had been through something similar. Does this mean such a thing is common? What happened to you?” Markus would ask, a hint of apprehension in his voice. He still had not gotten used to such horrible encounters.
Mac laughed one part trying to break the tension another part amused. “Yeah, morally white or morally black doesn’t go far with us, ” he said, sipping his drink. He didn’t specify who he was referring to. Instead, he let the statement linger longer than necessary. And taking another hit and exhale of his vape to punctuate the remark. He didn’t mean that to be a bad thing. No more so, a necessity when it was all said and done. His former mentor would say that Magic isn’t a burden, a call to arms, or a wish grantor…it’s a tool to bend reality, .

“ On a more serious note,” Mac replied “, I experienced the world-bending nature that happened at the train station, I was exploring the railways for something...and faced down Hell itself.” Mac grabbed the brass container and started to tap his fingers on it. He let the cold temperature linger on the tips. The smell of mint relaxed him.

“ I don’t know if it’s uncommon or not, ” he continued “, still researching, but I don’t think facing down the Undead and a Hydra could be considered normal even by supernatural standards. ”
Markus would give the man an affirmative nod and laugh; he understood entirely. Even if he didn't know who 'us' was, he assumed, since the man was working, and seemed knowledgeable in at least some fashion with the workings of Byte's latest application, that Mac was involved in some way.

As the topic turned serious, Markus would raise his eyebrows and look at the other man with concern. If anything, what Mac was saying was actually proving Markus' point that this was an occurrence, at least in some capacities. When the man continued to explain, the redhead would let out a heavy sigh. “Well, you're the second person I have heard about fighting a hydra in the tunnels and the third who seemed to have faced undead or spirits.”

Markus would wonder once more how it was all of this was kept from humans, mundanes, as he had come to learn was their colloquial term. Though Markus now used magic and studied, he had faced far more dangers before then. Though, perhaps the supernatural just called to some people, and Markus was one of the unlucky few. Who was to know?

“Common or not, it is concerning and means there is more work to be done. I absolutely do not want to be left to those forces again...[q] Markus would say, his words trailing off a bit. [q]Anyways, so this party is hosted by Byte? I've heard about them in the tech would but never had the pleasure of seeing them in action, nor their products.” Markus was half probing and half making conversation. One thing was certain, Byte has some sort of connection to the supernatural.
Mac’s ears perked up when he heard of a “second”. He looked down at Rust who poked his head up to look at Mac. That person must have been Mina. At least he hoped it was her. And unless he was including himself, that meant there were at least four others who were dealing with the undead, and at the train station no less. He also thought back to the time with Ekho and her unboxing video… and what happened at the club. By instinct, Mac let out a whistle.

Rust immediately jumped up and headed for the back exit. Mac scoped the club again. He didn’t like his odds. Especially with recent dealings of the undead and the last incident, he had some time ago. Thankfully he had Max with him. He wondered if Max was doing okay, he didn’t have a chance to see him again after he wolfed out.

“ Well Hydra and the Undead popping up like daisies isn’t good for business,” Mac replied “, I’ve been doing some research into it…also creating a bunch of equipment just in case things go bad. ” Mac continued scanning the room and taking a drink before fixing his eyes back on Markus.
“ And the best way to not be left to those forces is to always be prepared, ” he continued “, we who do magic may not be the most powerful, but we are the most cunning and the most resourceful. ” He smirked at Markus’s inquiry.

“ They’re a legit company with a lot of amazing backers, ” he continued “, all we do is help them thrive, mainly in logistics and they help us keep the lights on in buildings, help with network infrastructures, and a few backdoors for investments. ”
Markus would watch with interest as Rust took off from their table, heading off to some adventure. For all Markus knew the dog was looking for another rabbit, or perhaps he had some other motive. Markus let it go with a thought as the other man continued to talk.

“Agreed, such things are not good for anyone...” Markus would say, contemplating what Mac was saying. “Yeah, the two men I ran into when this all happened certainly didn't think their incidents were related. From my understanding, they were talking about different encounters.” With a smirk, the redhead would nod to Mac as he talked about what exactly it was they could do and how it benefited them. “Agreed, I haven't yet delved into enchantment, but I have explored a few more ideas and some minor effects.”

As the man talked about Byte, the redhead would nod his head, he knew Byte was legitimate, at least as far as the Department of Defence was concerned. Markus often spent time in his previous line of work looking into major players. Though he had found virtually nothing about the social media company, he didn't find anything that pointed towards anything untoward. No, what caught Markus' ear, however, was again that statement of 'we' this time in a way that was entirely disconnected from the tech company.

“I see, so you, 'we,' are like investors,” Markus would say, as a statement, not a question. “Interesting line of work seems to allow for some useful tools for people like 'us,'” This time, Markus was referring to them as ritualists and supernatural, even if it was strange to still think of himself as part of that crowd. “Is this common for you, then? Seems like fun work to do, getting to chaperone parties, and teaching lost souls a thing or two about magic.” The redhead would say with a smile, making sure the man knew he didn't mean anything bad by it. He actually understood the line of work rather well. He had done something very similar for the DoD, using his degree, money, and influence as a cover to be able to support the missions at hand.
There were a lot of points for Mac to tackle. But going into all of them felt, counterproductive. He couldn’t delve into a lot of information and some he hadn’t had an answer for yet. There was also him being on the lookout for something to take place. It was a feeling. Instinct? Nothing supernatural, just…the feeling of just in case.

“ Nah, there’s no such thing as unrelated when it comes to the supernatural, ” Mac began “, especially when there are so many concurrent incidents that relate to a specific aspect of the supernatural…in this case the Underworld.” He was still making sense of things. He didn’t have too much to give Markus on that front. But the other thing he was well versed in.

“Oh what I do here is make sure things run smoothly[,/q] he continued [q], this is just the mundane honest living part of it. ” He took another hit of his pen waiting for Rust to come back. He took a look back at the crowd, and they were still doing their usual thing. He exhaled the tension and the smoke into the air.

“ My ‘work’ is done in a workshop, archives, and boardrooms, involving a lot of gathering resources and building up foundations and tools for folks like us to use, ” he said motioning his pen around “, and from time to time making sure that our business doesn’t leak to the wrong people or our shit isn’t being messed with, or we’re able to get our hand on a thing before our rivals do.” He then slid a card on the table over to Markus. It was smooth with a magnetic strip on it. It was heavy with matted black paint and a lovely gold skull.

“ But what about you, all I know is that you do…or did something for the military and that you are a genius in engineering?”
Markus was unsure whether to agree or disagree with Mac's theory about the connections between events. He had experienced enough coincidences in his life before discovering the supernatural to recognize that not everything was related. However, the recent peculiar occurrences in the subway made him suspicious.

As Mac explained his purpose, Markus listened attentively and found it reasonable. He was surprised by Mac's openness but didn't detect any red flags or confidential information regarding "we." “I see, I think I understand,” Markus acknowledged as he examined the card he received. It had an intricate design with a skull, which he assumed was related to the organization.

Markus wasn't surprised that Mac knew about his military connections, as it was easy information to obtain. “I studied Engineering Physics, but I wouldn't call myself a genius,” Markus admitted, giving Mac a meaningful look. “I worked as a consultant for the Department of Defense and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization officially. Unofficially, I can't disclose much due to my bonds and oaths.”

Markus paused to emphasize his commitment to confidentiality. Even though he no longer worked in that field, he refused to betray the trust he had earned. “Nowadays, I am a student, investor, and philanthropist,” Markus disclosed, feeling no need to hide anything from Mac. Since Victoria was familiar to him, it would be no secret that Markus came from a wealthy background. “I left that line of work after Victoria's passing and moved here to pursue higher education.”

Markus left it alone that the 'pursuit of higher education' statement was a farse, he would have no doubt that the other man was intelligent enough to infer his real reason for being here was to learn about what happened to Victoria. But, for his own reasons, Markus left that unsaid.
Mac was able to create a better understanding of Markus. Mostly in the similarities. They both had a background in engineering. They both worked with classified information that neither one was willing to go into. Both had interactions involving the gov’t. Vastly loyal to the people they worked for or worked with. It also meant that at some point they would have crossed paths eventually. It was as if Victoria’s death sped up the process.

The world had a funny way of working. Just like it had a funny way of having them both encounter something involving the underworld. Possibly death itself. As he continued listening, it became clear that fate was setting something up. What it was, he didn’t have an inkling to it. What he did know however was not to dig where it was warranted.

“ No, I get it school comes first, ” he smiled “, would have gone back but life had other plans and I get bored sitting in a classroom. ” He left out the detail of why he left in the first place. There was no point in getting into that, it only made him angry thinking about it.

“ But investor and philanthropist…damn you’re doing it all, ” he continued “, can I ask what you are currently investing in, I might want to throw my dollars in.”
Markus would chuckle as Mac said life had other plans and even as he talked about getting bored in the classroom. Markus had stopped when he did for the same reasons, and up until recently, he also did not think he would go back to school. He didn't really need it. “Honestly, my secret is don't go to class. At least, only go enough that you are not marked down for attendance. So long as you get the work done and pass the exams, professors don't seem to complain,” Markus would say, though it was only half true. He had one professor that absolutely thought he was nothing but dirt and would not drop the fact that Markus wasn't in the class every time to ruminate on the intricacies of self-made thermodynamic systems.

“I get bored easily; the nice thing about investment and philanthropy is you get as much as you put in, some days I can really dedicate to it, go to the events, and spend the time; other days, I can let it grow on its own, without oversight,” Markus said, a bit uncomfortable with his next statement; honestly, much of what he did was born from his need to hide his work with the DoD. No one suspected the playboy tech boi at the party to have transported a weapon or technological marvel to a rival country. But, the side benefit of that is Markus discovered he likes to socialize. Also, they were a great way to gather information, which was one of the things Markus truly enjoyed trading in.

“Sure, most of what I invest in is technology or R&D advancement. There are a couple of startup companies that look to show real promise I can send your way.” Markus would then contemplate before speaking again. “Victoria, on the other hand, loved to invest in art and museums. She had a knack for finding someone who would go far. Much of her assets transferred to the family, but I can also point you to some of those if you have a preference.” Markus would pull out his phone and open a page with a list of investment names.

It wasn't everything he dealt in, and there were no details beyond the names and the occasional brief description, but he would pass it to Mac and allow him to copy any who caught his eyes. He didn't expect the man to try and undercut him. It was actually quite common at events for people to pass around stripped-down investment info; after all, multiple investors just meant less legwork. Most of the time. “Back to you; if you have any suggestions or want any help, please feel free to pass them my way.”
Mac had come a long way from being a regular college student to a gun broker. It was nice hearing someone else go through the same thing when he was a student. There were a few times while he was traveling alone that he thought about going back to school. However, a better offer appeared before he did. A new ambition. One that was currently being delayed by all the incidents that kept popping up around him. Markus gave a glimpse into the normalcy he once had. But the real prize was just at his grasp. And the school would only get in the way of that.

“ My former employment involved a lot of R&D, in fact, I was coming off of one before I met Victoria, ” he perked up “, I may not be interested in the arts but I know a thing or two about security, arms dealing, and well research. ” Mac took a drag of his vape. He looked at the list of investment names, a few names looked familiar from his earlier dealings. But nothing that caught his eye for one he wanted. Something to leverage his current situation.

“ Unfortunately I haven’t been able to invest in anything outside of working this,” Mac replied “, but if you know anyone who private security firms that would be great. ” Mac scanned the room one more time. He looked for Rust in the crowd. Nothing seemed off but he knew anything could happen.
Cinder Exceptional Success, Collector
Item: A Taste of Lust(Good)

As Markus listened intently to Mac's response, he realized that they shared quite a few similarities. He was curious to learn more about Mac's connection to Victoria. Unfortunately, most of his leads had been a dead end, which was quite discouraging. Despite his curiosity, Markus decided not to pry for more information. He was confident that Mac was not involved and had already provided all the relevant details pertaining to her case.

As Mac looked at the names, Markus drank more of his glass, looking into the crowd. In one corner, he could see a couple kissing, or more aptly grinding, phones still in hand, but apparently, their dungeon diving had taken an entirely new meaning. With a bit of an unsteady hand, thinking about the notes Markus had read, he would focus his mind on the feelings surrounding the individuals. Moving his hand, he would reach out once more, feeling resistance in the air and almost tasting the sweet sensation of the kiss they shared. With a bit of effort, he would take that sensation, that taste of lust, and compress it into a small vial, saving it for later.

“I'm sorry to hear that, but it seems like your current profession is treating you well,” Markus replied with a shrug, considering the man's inquiry. “However, I'm not familiar with anyone in the private security industry. My experience has only been with the military, so my security connections are limited to that.”

Markus was genuinely curious as he asked, “Is there any supernatural security?” Having experienced the dangers of this world firsthand, he found it difficult to believe that mundane individuals could handle many situations. He assumed that the Exchange must have some kind of capability, but he wondered if there were any other options besides them.
A vengeful Onryō
Deeply Hostile
Empathy, Shadow
It's the cold breeze that gets to Malik first. It creeps by, familiar, and coming from a set of dancing cages at the far end of the club, across the dancefloor. Within is a breathtakingly beautiful woman. She flits and twirls, shadows twining around her like airborne eels.

It plays out like Malik's deja vu-- the moment she's spotted by the pair, her body flickers out of sight like a bad film. The lights come down, and she reappears. She stands stock-still in her cage, staring at Malik. Her rage feels like an icy knife slipping down the spine, splitting the skin. While meeting Malik's eyes, the onryō's hand twitches between the bars of the cage and reaches for the lock.
Onryo Cinder Emotion (Fear) 5 passes vs 4 passes Success
Mac Cinder Resist, 4 passes vs 5 passes failure

It was almost dreamlike. The way the club seemed to be out of focus. The muffled conversation between himself and Markus. It seemed to overlap a vision from the past. He didn't have enough time to process it. She, was already picking at the lock. Mac was about to say something but it caught his eye. A chill down his spine kept him from giving out the warning.

However, he wasn't the only one that could feel it. Something was driving folks out of the club. One by one folks moved away from the cage. As if they knew something was about to go down. He didn't have time to move for the door or drag Markus along with him.

“ Markus, don't panic...” he began “...but I'm going to need you to do something very important. ” He grabbed the salt shaker on the table and flipped the table over in front of them. He motioned for the young man to get down.

“ I've fought that thing before, ” Mac frantically fumbled through his bag and began loading bullets up with the salt “, she hits hard, blinks in and out of view, and can fuck with your emotions...sometimes it's anger sometimes fear...” He looked at his bag and realized that he was running out of bullets.

“ I'll keep it distracted, I need you to do your Null thing and lock her in place. ” He yelped as he hopped over the table.
Cinder Onryo Empathy(Anger), Exceptional Success(5 passes)
Cinder Markus Iron Will resist, Failure(3 passes vs. 5 passes)

Cinder Circle Casting, 7 passes Exceptional Success
*Drawing the Circle*

Markus was enjoying the atmosphere, sinking into the melody of the music, and enjoying the pleasant conversation when the almost imperceptible shift came over them. He would notice people leaving the venue, thinking them bored; he looked towards one of the dancer cages. His eyes caught a beautiful woman just before she disappeared. His breath catching in his throat, he turned towards Mac, about to ask what he saw, when he realized the man was already looking in that direction.

Glancing back, Markus would see she had returned and was reaching for the cage. When Mac spoke up, the redhead would look towards him, raising an eyebrow as he started to prepare for... something. Racking his brain, Markus would remember some notes about Salt and its effects on the supernatural. “Fuck,” He would say, releasing a breath as his anger got the better of him, and he realized that once more, he had found himself in a predicament that was quite dangerous.

“While I work, you will have to weaken her. This will not be possible if she is at full strength,” Markus would start, reaching into his bag and pulling out various items. He knew he would have to get close to her; the circle would need to be cast onto the object to which she would be bound. He had never done this before and was by no means an exorcist, but he had an idea. As Mac took off, hopping over the table, Markus would do the same; taking a bit of a wider birth, he would pull out a chisel.

He knew he must ensure this circle was more permanent than most. Trying his best to ignore whatever Mac would do to distract the being, Markus prepared to get started; first, he would have to draw the circle. Rushing forward, he would slide to the cage, and without even looking up, he would start crafting an inverse circle around the being. He was focusing on the cage, as it would have to act as the enchantment for the nullification magic to be made permanent. As he worked around it, he would only hope that Mac would be able to keep the thing busy.

It did not even cross his mind to think if anyone was watching him, he just hoped the club emptied soon, and they were able to finish their work before cops were called.
Luck Markus, 4/4
Luck Onryo, 4/4
Onryo Strike 6 passes vs 2 DC Success
Wytchgun Cinder Exceptional Success (7 passes)
Mac Ballistic Strike 5 passes vs 3 DC Success

The camera pans through the crowd of people pushing themselves out of the exit and above the ONRYŌ and Mac. On one side was the Onyrō waiting for her chance to strike a familiar foe. On the other was Mac, gun cocked at the ready. Behind him was Markus arching away from the two of them. The hazy pink, purple, and blue lights blinked and dimmed above them.

Consume, Change, Shift, Splinter

Mac started to chant. The skeletal eyes glowed red before changing to white. On it's forehead the symbol for Sky Iron appeared. The skull began to click and clatter. The woman blinked out of view and with a screech appeared. She slashed her long nails across Mac's chest.

Hammer, Splinter, Ruin, Shatter...Wytchgun rip apart...

Fuck off, the gun shouted in his head. Mac fired the flintlock. Metal Shrapnel and salt tore through the spirit. Blinking in and out of view with a banshee scream. Mac dashed around to middle of the dance floor. He made sure to keep an eye out for Rust and Markus.

“ You should have stayed gone, ” He said reloading.

Luck Mac, 3/4
Luck Onryō, 3/4
Strike Bullets/Shells Left 3/4
Cinder Onryo Shadow, 4 Successes vs. Markus DC 2
Cinder Markus Cantrip Nullification, 3 Successes vs. Onryo DC 3

Fully focusing on finishing the circle and relying on his studies, Markus heard the sound of a firearm and turned to see that Mac had somehow changed and was attacking the creature. At that moment, the entity they were fighting shifted, but only briefly, almost seeming to fade from view. Markus tried to take advantage of the distraction to cross the room, components in hand. The entity launched a lash of shadow in his direction, causing him pain and frustration as it struck him, and he stumbled, dropping a component he was carrying.

Realizing he needed to deal with the entity before continuing his work, Markus released a wave of nullification energy around the circle. Although he knew it wouldn't be enough to affect the entity's powerful magic, he focused on cleansing the residual magic from within the circle. As he did so, he could hear the entity hissing in anger.

After completing the cleansing, Markus quickly retrieved his lost component and resumed his work on the magical circles. Though he knew it would take longer to complete the ritual if he focused on the entity, he remained determined; he knew weakening the creature was just as important as finishing the ritual.

Luck Markus, 3/4
Luck Onryo, 2/4

Ritual Progress
1/3 Successful Roles,
1. Circle Drawn
Onryō, Anger Cinder 9 passes vs 4 passes Success
Mac Cinder Resist, 4 passes vs 9 passes failure
Mac Ballistic Strike 2 bypasses DC (Salt Round)

Mac noticed the Onryō turning her attention to Markus. Before he could catch her attention she was already throwing shadow at Markus. The Onryō tried to go for another shadow but it was stopped by whatever magic Markus had done. Mac was about to tell Markus to head for Rust but was caught off guard by something. A feeling of anger he hadn't felt in a long time. There was a rage in him that he hadn't felt since dealing with his father. Dealing with the tunnel. Dealing with the Onryō herself.

It was that same anger that helped forge the Wytchgun.

Let loose,

Mac tried to resist. But it kept calling to him.

Destroy her,

His vision tunneled.

Con-sume HER

The last thing he heard was the reloading of the gun. With yell, he threw himself at the ghostly figure. She blinked out of the way but was caught by the rapid firing of his gun. Shrapnel and Salt peppered the spirit. Glass rained down around them as he continued to fire. The Onryō screeched and blinked out of view. He lost himself to the haze, overusing the number of rounds he had left.

Luck Mac, 3/4
Luck Onryō, 1/4
Strike Bullets/Shells Left 1/4
Cinder Onryo Empathy(Fear), 2 Hits(Contested)
Cinder Markus Iron Will, 5 Hits vs. 2 Hits(Success)

Cinder Markus Circle Casting 2/3, 4 Hits(Complete Success)

Markus rushed forward after picking up his component. Unfortunately, he didn't have much to work with, having only started learning how to collect components. But he didn't think it would matter much here. The goal he was striving for did not need to be perfect, only adequate. He ignored the sounds of Mac fighting, and the movements of the creature as much as he could.

Trying to make sure not to get between Mac holding his firearm and the creature hellbent on stopping him, Markus would rush very particularly around the room, placing items as he went to each quadrant. First to the South, then the North West, then the South East, followed by the South West, and finally, rushing by the cage, he would place his final component in the North East. He had very specifically chosen to place the components in the order of banishment, and as he was placing the last one, his eyes once more looked toward the cage.

Without moving its body, the spirit seemed to turn fully on its head to look directly at Markus, despite its body still facing Mac. For the briefest of moments, overwhelming fear welled up inside of Markus. He had flashed in his mind of the underworld, of dragons, of ghosts, of the lonely world he had spent just moments within. The force of the fear caused him to stop what he was doing.

Taking a deep breath, his eyes narrowed, and he forced the thoughts from his mind. He was tired of being afraid; he was tired of being lost in this world. Instead, he would focus, he would learn, and he would prepare. With an almost menacing smirk, he would look back at the being, overcome his fear, and pull out his tools. Beginning once more to work on the ritual at hand.

He switched his focus now to the runes. He first drew the outer runes. Runes of nullification, and removal, runes of counterbalance and focusing. Then, he switched to the inner runes, the ones which would bring him closer to the danger. With these, he again wrote runes of nullification, and of banishment, of binding, and of removal. Once more, he let his training and research speak for him. Unlike the previous ritual, he didn't have all the time in the world to double-check his work. Already, they were waiting. Luckily, so was the being.

Luck Markus, 3/4
Luck Onryo, 1/4

Ritual Progress
2/3 Successful Roles,
1. Circle Drawn
2. Components Placed
3. Runes Marked
Onryō Strike 0 passes vs 2 DC Failure
Mac Ballistic Strike 1 bypass DC (Salt Round)

Mac still consumed by the rage bobbed and weaved the ghostly figure's blows. He flipped the flintlock to slam the butt of it into the woman's face. She stammered back trying to get away but was caught off guard by a menacing Rust. The dog growled and snarled at the Onryō. She slashed at the dog, letting out a scream of terror. Rust tore a piece of fabric from the spirit. While Mac grabbed a salt canister and peppered the woman with it.

In the chaotic confusion, Mac fired a round from the Wytchgun. It erupted in laughter and rage as shrapnel tore through the furniture and the Onryō. The haunting figure was down with Mac and Rust circling around her.

It seems you wanted to terrorize the young Master while I was gone,

Let loose,

“ I gave you a chance to leave, ”

Con-sume HER

She tested us, we shoul-

“Hey Markus, ” Mac yelled over the music “, She's down.”

Luck Mac, 3/4
Luck Onryō, 0/4
Strike Bullets/Shells Left 0/4
Cinder Markus Circle Casting 3/3, 5 Hits(Exceptional Success)
Markus had his head down, finishing the runes, when he heard Mac call out; looking over, he could see the results of the other man's work. The spirit was indeed weakened and ready for the finalization of the ritual. “Fuck.” Markus cursed himself for getting distracted earlier and losing himself in his anger. Had he kept to his work instead of attacking the creature, the ritual might be ready. Now, they had to finish it before the being regained its strength.

“Keep the spirit in the circle!” Markus would cry out as he pulled out a knife. “But make sure not to cross the inner ring!” Moving to the front of the circle, he would create a small nick on his hand and wave it in front of the circle sending a scattering of blood across the runes, which started to light up in sequence. All at once a wave of magic energy would radiate from the circle.

The circle was complex, and for a lot of it, he had thrown together on the fly. But he could feel that it was working. All he had to do now was introduce the power source and finish the casting. The spirit within the circle would be trapped within the cage, which was the catalyst. Its powers would be entirely nullified, making it unable to interact with or harm anyone again.

Luck Markus, 3/4
Luck Onryo, 0/4

Ritual Progress
3/3 Successful Roles,
1. Circle Drawn
2. Components Placed
3. Runes Marked
4. Circle Sealed
Mac Assistance Cinder 2 (net) passes, Partial Failure

Mac continued to box the defeated spirit in the circle. He wanted to offer advice but he was too stuck in his head. Stuck in the haze of rage. The magic was gone but he still saw red. Rust's growls echoed his own feelings. There wasn't much he could do at the moment. Every so often the figure tried to move, but one of them was there face to face with her. He wanted to end this. But knew he had to wait. Just a little longer. He couldn't let it all go to waste. It wasn't just him involved. It wasn't just his win. It was also Markus's win. A chance for him to learn. He backed off slightly. Silently pacing with his gun cocked.
Cinder Markus Ritual Activation, 3 Hits(Success)
Markus used as powersource.

In his rush, it wasn't until the ritual had been activated that Markus realized he had made a possibly fatal mistake. As the runes activated and the magic started to flow, Markus would look to see Mac holding off the Onryo when suddenly his heart would seize up. All breath would leave his lungs, and for the briefest of moments, Markus would collapse to his knees, unable to talk or breathe. It was as if all oxygen had left his lungs, but it was worse. As the ritual activated and the magic condensed, it would hit Markus like a freight train, pulling from him the energy it needed to finalize the ritual.

However, Markus would watch, trying to catch his breath as the spirit was ripped into the cage, which would close off its own volition, locking the being within its confines. The runes around the area would glow lightly for a moment before dying down, and at the base of the cage, the containment enhancement would come into effect. Markus would feel the anger he had been holding onto leave him as the spirit's ability to affect the world outside the cage was nullified.

“It is done.” Markus would say, his voice not much more than a hoarse rasp, as his breath slowly started to come back. He felt like he had run a marathon and wasn't sure if he could stand quite yet.

Luck Markus, 1/4

Ritual Progress
Ritual Complete
3/3 Successful Roles,
1. Circle Drawn
2. Components Placed
3. Runes Marked
4. Circle Sealed
5. Energy Source

5x Average Components used
Markus drained as the source of power
Mac Cinder 8 passes Exceptional Success
Item: Good Quality - Onryo’s Rage

Gone was the rage that was eating at his mind. His fingers swiped through the air, dragging something that was a mix of heat and pain. He stuffed the strands of ghostly rage into a small ring box. His new focus was on Marcus who was feeling the effects of his spell. Fuck, he thought to himself as he went over to check on the young witch.

“ I was so busy keeping her still I wasn’t able to check on you, ” he said looking Marcus over. He recognized the exhaustion that was pouring off of him. The paleness that followed. He cast without a source. Something to draw from. A rookie mistake, but not exactly a costly one. At least not him.

“ Alright, I’m going to have the car swung around so I can drag her out of here, ” he continued “, Rust is going to help you get back home. ” Rust barked as he stood by Marcus’s side.

“ You fucking mad lad, ” Mac exclaimed “, on one hand, excellent work on the seal, and on the other, next time make sure you have a source in mind to pull from. ”