Three On A Match
⁂ Third on a match. Meaning: bad luck.


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Mid-Summer

It's hot, it's time to hit the beaches!


Restlessness
Newton 


#1
Markus Eldridge Offline
Arcanist Human
Circlebreaker
Markus had decided he needed a break; he had been on the uppermost floor of the Exchange office, becoming a bit of a Circle regular after his initial uncertainty. His recent conversations and the things he had learned about after returning to town gave him an entire new push on his search and desire to learn. The fact that the Sewing Circle had information, something Markus had been sorely lacking in his first attempt, had fueled a mad rush. Luckily, he didn't have a day job and was ahead of his schoolwork, or he might be at risk of getting into trouble.

He had been practicing a bit more, finally branching out to test his skills with small rituals and perfecting the small nullification spell he had worked on. It was nowhere near the power of a ritual, though it did wonders for clearing his work of residue magic so that he could try again. He wished he had more things to test it on, people with other magic, but he had been uncertain about reaching out to others until he felt ready.

Descending the stairs, nodding towards the attendant at the front desk, and giving them a cheerful hello, he paused in the foyer on his way out of the Exchange. He had been there most of the day and realized he hadn't had much to eat or drink. Bringing up his phone, he started to search for things in the area as he stood in the middle of the room, hopefully mostly out of the way of anyone who came through.
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#2
Angela Dune Offline
Cursed Human
Mischance
Outfit sans sunglasses

It had been a little over two months since the incident in the archives. Dune had managed to take about a week off of work before she got stir-crazy and decided it was time to start seeing what this curse was all about. To put it lightly, it was slow going, but it was going, and that was all she could hope for.

That said, being back in the office had the added benefit of putting her among friends and coworkers. Although she didn't want to go into the details of her trauma, socializing was a balm for a terminal extrovert. Today, she'd stayed late enough that it was early evening and Aldane was in, taking reports and getting ready for the evening shift. As they caught up, the undying cleverly set them on a path around the office that Dune didn't realize was heading toward the foyer until he grinned and urged her to go find dinner if she was going to hang around.

Thus pushed out of the office, Dune pulled out her phone, about to see if she could find a restaurant she hadn't yet been to in the area. However, before she could, she spotted a familiar figure, notable for his red hair. It was always a surprise to see someone she knew from before her retirement, but Easthaven was a port city. Plenty of people came through its streets.

“Hey!” she called without hesitation, grinning as she ambled toward him. The woman opened one arm, her left cradled in a black sling, leaving one jacket sleeve empty. “What're you doin' here, Markus? Causing trouble?”
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#3
Markus Eldridge Offline
Arcanist Human
Circlebreaker
Markus was looking at his maps app. As he searched, he saw a few good coffee shops, a burger place, and a few other restaurants. He wasn't very picky and was about to take off towards the best review when he heard a voice. It sounded almost familiar, and when he looked up to see a familiar grinning face, he quickly put up his phone and stepped towards her, giving her a warm hug as she opened her arm.

He was certainly surprised, and he didn't hide that fact on his face. He had seen quite some time ago, in another lifetime it felt, when he was out deploying a military asset. Their paths had crossed a couple of times, for various lengths, as their work took them places, but finding her stateside at the Exchange of all places was not something he had expected. He knew if she was here, she probably knew about the world he had stumbled into, which was surprising but far from the biggest discovery he had made recently, especially given that it was Trevelyan, a mutual acquaintance, that had introduced him to it.

“Always,” he said with a chuckle before answering her question, “Gotta kick the hornet's nest from time to time. I was just now looking for a bite to eat. What about you, Angela?” Markus asked, as he noticed the sling one of his eyebrows would raise in an unasked question, concern on his face.
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#4
Angela Dune Offline
Cursed Human
Mischance
One-armed or no, Dune gave as good a hug as she could despite her stature, returning the warmth, pleased to see an old friend. As they parted, she caught his look at her slinged arm, and the raised eyebrow. She saw the concern.

The last time they'd seen each other had been before her career-ending injury and subsequent discharge. Now, she didn't have a crippled arm to explain, but a magical prosthesis. If he was loitering here in the Exchange building, there was a solid chance he was in the know, but for now, she was just nodded, comfortable in ambiguity.

“'Bout the same, yeah,” she said, wiggling her phone, a list of restaurants still up on the app. Then she reached out and nudged his elbow. “C'mon, Markus, call me Angie,” she said with a teasing lilt. Angela was not a name she went by very often; she asked her lovers to call her Angie, even if their dalliance was short-lived. “Or Dune. Don't get so formal!”
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#5
Markus Eldridge Offline
Arcanist Human
Circlebreaker
Markus didn't miss that she decided not to comment on her arm. But he wasn't one to pry; he was sure they had much to catch up on. He would chuckle as he spoke up, teasing his choice of vernacular, remembering that she had, in fact, told him more than once now to call her Angie. It was just one of those things that constantly seemed to slip his mind as they met. It was even more amusing because he typically considered using one's last name as even more formal, but he knew military folk always had weird ways.

“What's wrong? Getting all friendly all of a sudden,” Markus would say, nudging her back, quoting the great Hal Emmerich. “Besides, you're one to talk. 'Markus'? What happened to.... oh... what was it you used to call me?” He asked, laughing as he remembered her clever nickname for him, knowing very damn well what it was. It was one he used to take quite a bit of pride in.
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#6
Angela Dune Offline
Cursed Human
Mischance
It took Dune a moment. She paused, a smile hovering around her mouth, just before the memory came back to her.

“Otacon!” she remembered jubilantly, raising her good arm. Grabbing at his arm, she added with a laugh, “I'm not callin' you that in polite company, s'too fuckin nerdy.” Looking toward the door, she started to drift in that direction, turning to pace backwards, facing him as she moved. She grinned sunnily. “C'mon, let's go together. We can talk over food.”
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#7
Markus Eldridge Offline
Arcanist Human
Circlebreaker
Markus let out a chuckle as she said the nickname and then called it too nerdy. The redhead had always taken it as a badge of honor; if he did his job well, it ensured the teams always had the best toys. But he wasn't going to argue that point.

Markus started following her as soon as she moved, already having decided that if they were both looking for food, it would be pointless not to go out for dinner together. Seeing her again, especially with her brightened demeanor, did wonders to remind Markus of the past; with a broad smile, he would raise an eyebrow as she walked backward.

“Sure,” he said, gesturing after her, following in pace. “However, you decide where we are going.” He usually had no issue making decisions if needed, but he was happy to follow along in this case.
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#8
Angela Dune Offline
Cursed Human
Mischance
Markus told her to decide, and Dune chuckled, eyes glimmering as she let go of his arm so they could stride through the door together. “Groovy Burger,” she said decisively, snapping her fingers.

After a day spent practicing her magic, she needed something substantial. Although the curse’s effects hadn’t been too bad, as far as she could tell, she also wasn’t using too much magic. It only promised to get worse, she thought.

Knowing the way, she hit the sidewalk in front of the Exchange building and started walking immediately, expecting Markus to keep pace. Looking around, she took a deep breath of the evening air after having spent all day inside. “So, what’re you doing here for real?” she asked as they walked, setting a brisk pace. “I figure you didn’t find the Exchange just to loiter.”
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#9
Markus Eldridge Offline
Arcanist Human
Circlebreaker
Markus had no complaints when she said where they were going; it had been the spot he was contemplating himself, so it was kismet. He also was glad that she was so decisive in her decision, quick to the point. He missed that about his friend for sure.

Falling into step as she started to walk, he would be at her side and place his hands into his coat pocket as they took to the evening air. Markus glanced towards her as they walked when she spoke up and contemplated the question. He saw no reason to lie to her; she had also been at the Exchange, and by the way she asked, he again assumed she was most likely in the known.

“Well, you know me, always in the way.” He joked at first before answering. In the end, he decided not to lie but to play middle ground on the off chance. “I haven't been going too long, but I have started to visit the upper floor; they have some excellent workshops and very knowledgeable people.” He answered, watching her reaction. He didn't want to mention his sister yet, nor did he want to say his reason for finding the Exchange in the first place.
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#10
Angela Dune Offline
Cursed Human
Mischance
“Ah!” Dune huffed, interested and catching on to the implications. So Markus had taken up the arcane arts. She wondered what introduced him to the whole thing, but she didn't have much of a base to extrapolate from. While they'd enjoyed each other's company, their main concern had been the immediate moment and however many articles of clothing they were or weren't wearing.

That wasn't the topic right now, though, and Dune paid attention, looking both ways as they strode across a one-way street. “Yeah, our Circle's good. It's pretty new. Only managed to get it together about two years ago. Have you been...” She scrunched her eyebrows together, pausing, before glancing over at Markus with a grin. “Are you just visiting or have you moved here?” The way he phrased implied to her that it was a long-term arrangement.
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#11
Markus Eldridge Offline
Arcanist Human
Circlebreaker
Markus watched as realization came to her eyes, and she spoke up. He was glad she understood, though, in truth, it really raised more questions than it gave answers. He wondered if she were in the know when they had been together, not that it was something they would have talked about if so.

At her question, Markus paused to consider, raising an eyebrow at her unasked question. “Hmmmhh,” Markus let out a sound of uncertainty. Honestly, he had always thought of the move as temporary. He was still living in the dorm even though he only took enough classes to technically be considered a student. He wasn't sure what he would do once things were settled with Victoria.

“Yeah, I have liked the circle and learned a lot,” Markus said with a smile, he always liked to learn. “I... I'm not sure, but for now, it's temporary, I guess.” Markus said, his voice dropping slightly as he thought about why he had come to the city. Getting himself to smile, he would turn to her. “However, that's a lot of questions about me so far; what about you? I seem to remember you were also at the Exchange.”
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#12
Angela Dune Offline
Cursed Human
Mischance
Markus seemed reluctant to answer the question, thinking it over for a moment or two, which had Dune concluding that this was not a permanent arrangement before he said so. It made sense--perhaps he was only here to learn from a prominent member of the Circle. She had only heard recently that they had a decorated arcanist in their ranks.

Regardless, the man turned the question back on her and she hooted a laugh. “I only asked two!” she protested, grinning and nudging him with her elbow as they walked. “But okay- fine. I guess you found me there because I work there.”
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#13
Markus Eldridge Offline
Arcanist Human
Circlebreaker
Markus couldn't help but smile as she laughed, reminding him that she had only asked two questions so far. He knew many more would come, but he wasn't sure he was ready to talk about some of his reasons for being in the city—even with an old fling.

He would raise an eyebrow at her comment, working for the Exchange. That was a surprise to him; he would have expected her to go far in the military, but then again, he didn't know what, or why, she was in the military in the first place. Perhaps it was always going to be temporary.

“I see...” Markus mused. “So you retired from active duty?” He asked as they walked. Though he had never been to the burger joint before, it had been one of the recommendations he was looking at, so he realized they would probably be getting close.

If she worked at the Exchange, he wondered if she knew about his sister's case. Markus didn't remember if he had ever mentioned her when they were together. Small talk was never a priority, and although he shared letters with his sister. That had always been something he kept private when abroad for many reasons.
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#14
Angela Dune Offline
Cursed Human
Mischance
Markus lifted an eyebrow at her and she mirrored the look, wondering what the man was thinking about the admission. When he told her in not so many words, that he wondered about her military career, the woman nodded and sighed complacently. It was just a fact of life, really.

“Medical discharge,” she answered with a shrug of her good shoulder. She smiled, mirthlessly. The military had been her whole life before this. “I was injured pretty badly while working with NATO, I couldn't serve anymore.” Shifting out her elbow, she indicated her slinged arm, as if it wasn't completely obvious. That said, it wasn't the whole truth. She'd been recovering before the curse, and now her arm functioned perfectly. She only kept it in the sling because her gunmetal arm looked strange.
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#15
Markus Eldridge Offline
Arcanist Human
Circlebreaker
Markus nodded as she spoke up, giving her a lighthearted smile. He hated hearing that she had been discharged; he had hoped it was her decision to have left. If there was anything he remembered, it was how much she seemed to enjoy life and her career. It was a passion they shared, even if the direction was different. So, in his own way, he understood.

“That's unfortunate. I'm sorry to hear it,” he said, looking at the arm in its sling. He had been avoiding looking at it directly up until now, assuming it would come up eventually. “I hope the recovery doesn't take too much longer,” he added, thinking it must have been somewhat recent with how her arm was slung.
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#16
Angela Dune Offline
Cursed Human
Mischance
Markus seemed to get it, and she let her smile soften a bit, appreciative. He let himself look at her arm, and Dune followed suit, lifting her slung elbow a little away from her body. Although she didn’t need it, she wore it comfortably, used to having it strapped on from her first injury. The only difference was that she kept her fingers tucked away and out of sight, so far.

As Markus wished her well, she laughed softly. She dropped her elbow. “Ah…” she began, her smile going wry. She appreciated his good intentions, enough to clarify it. “I was discharged a few years ago. I lost the arm recently and well- I’m getting used to a replacement, I suppose.” Which was a fairly basic way to describe having the whole thing burned off by a curse, but how did one even start explaining that? In public even?

Ahead, the Groovy Burger’s sign burned against the evening sky, a beacon for the hungry promising greasy heaping portions.
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#17
Markus Eldridge Offline
Arcanist Human
Circlebreaker
Markus watched with interest as her smile changed, a sound coming from her lips before she clarified. He raised an eyebrow and adopted a look of concern as she clarified. "“Oh... well damn,” Markus said at first as he heard her explanation. “I am really sorry to hear that.” He added, glancing at her arm, his smile having fallen in the revelation.

He wondered what sort of prosthetics she had. He had seen quite a few mechanical and experimental options and knew that with modern technologies, all sorts of things were possible. Then, he briefly wondered just what was possible now that he knew about magic and its applications. He decided not to press yet, though he did want to hear more if she was willing to share later.

As they approached the burger joint, he brought his face back into a smile and reached for the door, gesturing for her to go first. “Well, I would love to hear more about life now. I am sure you haven't let something as small as an arm stop you after all,” he said with a smile as they entered, hoping to keep the mood bright.
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#18
Angela Dune Offline
Cursed Human
Mischance
Seeing Markus' smile fall had Dune glancing away ruefully. She didn't mean to bring the mood down, even by the smallest margin, but what could one do otherwise with this topic? So she just bore it, until he spoke again and she caught his brightening smile. Her smile grew in response, the woman naturally mirroring his mood and happy to move on to lighter topics.

Nodding her head in thanks, she stepped inside of the Groovy Burger and drew in a deep breath. It smelled delicious, like cooking meat and fry oil. She spied one of the cooks mixing up a milkshake in the back and decided that was going on her order too. The whole place had a retro vibe, with checker board floors and booths upholstered with slightly shimmery plastic.

“Sure didn't,” she laughed, agreeing half turning to face him as they waited for someone to catch sight of them and seat them. “It's been quieter than the service, but Easthaven is plenty busy. I'm sure you know that.”

If he was in the Circle, then Dune assumed he'd run something in the city. Once you knew, it was hard to miss, consider the supernatural had perfected the art of hiding in plain sight.
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#19
Markus Eldridge Offline
Arcanist Human
Circlebreaker
Entering right behind Dune, Markus took a moment to take in the atmosphere, the smell of grease, the sound of oil crackling, and the cadence of a well-run establishment. It seemed a perfect spot for a meal. Looking at the options, he already knew he would have to go with the largest selection of fries. He was glad he let her decide where they would be eating.

He turned towards Dune with a smile as she confirmed his statement; she would be as determined as he remembered. Her following statement made him chuckle and shake his head.

“Isn't that the truth... I have had to defend myself in Easthaven more than I ever did abroad,” he said with a lighthearted scoff, hopefully playing off the danger. Of course, he didn't feel the need to mention that when he was abroad, he rarely saw combat; she would already know that. Even in combat zones, he was a deployment specialist, a role that involved strategic planning and support, and those tasked to keep him alive were the ones doing the fighting.
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#20
Angela Dune Offline
Cursed Human
Mischance
This close to the dinner hour, there was a short line, a small family taking up the majority of space in front of them. Fortunately, they'd come prepared with their order and as she took up the space behind them, Dune made a silly face for the baby who was staring at them over her father's shoulder.

As she did, she laughed at Markus' report, before looking at him, a little wide eyed, but amused. “Wow, really?” she pressed, a little surprised and curious if he was telling the truth. It was true that she remembered Markus as a non-combatant. While deployed, she hadn't precisely been in the thick of it either, but she might've been closer than him. “What have you been getting up to?”

They might need to speak in euphemisms to get through the conversation till they dispersed into the restaurant, but the family ahead seemed absorbed in its own happy chatter.
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#21
Markus Eldridge Offline
Arcanist Human
Circlebreaker
Markus smiled, watching Angie make faces at the baby. It was a surprising display of normalcy in what had become a chaotic life. Hell, Markus wasn't even entirely sure the last time he really thought about things like a girlfriend, children, or anything of that nature.

Markus nodded as she questioned him, letting her know she was entirely serious. However, when she asked what he had been getting up to, he would pause for a moment—considering how to word such things in public.

“Well, I discovered the office and their investigative services when trying to gather some information my first week in the city,” Markus said, choosing his words carefully. He assumed it was safe to say that much, seeing as the Exchange's actual front was as an investigation agency. “Then, about a week later, I had a bizarre encounter at a transit station. And since then, I haven't had much time to breathe. So much so that I absconded to Europe for a few weeks to get away from it all.” Markus finished.

He assumed if anyone were to know about the weirdness in the train stations, it would be someone with the Exchange, seeing how many people Markus had met that had similar stories to his own. He also knew most people overhearing them would assume he was talking about flickering lights or maybe encountering a drunken individual.
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#22
Angela Dune Offline
Cursed Human
Mischance
“Wow...” Dune said, as they moved a few steps further in line. Her eyes were wide with genuine surprise as she tore her eyes away from the cute baby and looked back at Markus. Wow,” she repeated after a moment, punctuating it with a merry laugh. She believed him, naturally, but having it be so intense he needed to leave the city begged her to ask what the story was. She was dying to get into the privacy of a booth.

“You're like- That's straight into the deep end with you.” She pantomimed a diving motion with her good hand. They moved forward again, the line moving somewhat quickly now that the family was out of the way. “What's your secret? I usually have a pretty normal time when I'm not working.”
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#23
Markus Eldridge Offline
Arcanist Human
Circlebreaker
Markus nods when she turns to him, with a knowing look. Wow doesn't do it justice, his luck is either the stuff of legends, or nightmares he is starting to think.

“I guess I am just a magnet for trouble when I don't have someone watching my ass, and keeping me from stepping into the deep end,” I say with a laugh as we get closer to the counter, almost ready to order. “Luckily, things seemed to have cooled down.”
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#24
Angela Dune Offline
Cursed Human
Mischance
“That's good, glad to hear it,” Dune agreed, amused and still curious about what had Markus running into trouble so reliably. Pure bad luck, it seemed. “Well, good thing we've met up, I'm happy to watch your ass.” She meant it, but she still winked, letting it be a double entendre as they stepped up to the register.

She already had her order in mind once there--a double cheese burger with onion rings and a chocolate shake--and was quick about it. Then as she reached for her wallet, she glanced over at Markus, more than happy to grab both of their dinners.
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