Chapter 1: __________ is Magic

Magic is Real.

We fly over oceans, hold the sum of all recorded knowledge in our hands, and speak with relatives halfway across the world without leaving our chairs. Magic isn't just flying on broomsticks or calling down fire from the Heavens. Magic is limited only by your Imagination, and your Will to make it manifest. There's a battle going on over the nature of Reality and Mankind itself. Pretend it isn't there, or get involved and forge the Future you envision.

Welcome to the Ascension War.

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Re: Chapter 1: __________ is Magic

Post by ManWithDoor » Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:07 am

The master of ceremonies lives up to the title, his use of timing and intonation gathering attention from all assembled whenever he wishes. "My thanks for your introductions, Pixel of the Virtual Adepts, and Khulai of the Orphans." His gaze pans around, seeming to pierce the eyes of each who meet his gaze. "A failure upon our parts, a clarion call to all of us to be better at reaching out to all those that might Ascend. We must be better, my fellow Magi, that none might be unprotected and unwelcome."

Master Robertson reaches out and takes up his staff with one hand. The tip begins to glow a dull red, and he weaves around the tip with practiced skill. Enochian runes are traced out, and stay written in the middle of the air. He begins chanting in a strangely compelling language, and the runes fly into the air above the gathering. They stop in the four corners of the room, and the air shimmers.

----- ----- -----

And suddenly it is as though you are seeing into the past. The Gauntlet, the barrier between the Worlds is slashed apart, as though cut by a blade. Winter pours through, and the fog turns to a sudden storm. The wind becomes almost blinding, and celebrants can be seen to begin to panic and run in conflicting directions. A loud groan sounds from the opposite side of the revealed San Francisco square, as the artificial pond breaks and floods that area, the lights to the ancestors winking out. The red lanterns above also come crashing down, their illumination snuffed out.

A figure floating several feet of the air can be seen. It looks human in shape, but thoroughly ... wrong. It is hunched over, a tall, wide-brimmed hat covering the upper half of its face. The visible part appears to be a white porcelain mask, with a red-lipped smile. Its cape looks to be made of black feathers, and a weapon of some sort is held in its hands, dripping blood.

A lilting, penetrating laughter fills the air, the tone clearly feminine. She idly swings her weapon, darting back and forth in front of fallen civilians. She speaks, and it is almost pleasant, but coming from such a figure it is unsettling in the extreme. "Someone’s parents,” she says, “have been singing entirely the wrong sort of songs. Why am I here? To send them to the soft and painless blanket of their sleep, of course. How else can I end the Singers and the Namers? Watch all you want, little human. I am not cruel, as their lying tales told. They will not suffer long." She laughs again, her motions becoming more agitated, eager even.
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The scenery shifts, changing from a long scry through time, the chaos of the Event rippling through time and space, so now it shows brief vignettes.

-----

Jon, or Merciful Raven to others, is the first to react, diving in to save the lives of the Singers. His Oath compels him with every fiber of his being to oppose this violent spirit, and he puts his body between the Old Man and the Spirit in protest. He places his hand upon the man's chest, and his dragon ring glows with a bright, sapphire light. Suddenly, the dead man breathes again! Rasping breaths come from his chest, and his eyes flutter open. He is far from hale, but he has been snatched back from death's door.

-----

Surprisingly to some who don't know him as well as they could, Dexter, going by Khulai more recently, steps in front of the Snow Woman, blocking her path. Her head tilts quizzically, as though the man were a puzzle to be figured out. She drifts to the left, then cuts quickly to the right, trying to bypass him. The Romani shifts his stance and darts in front of her, cutting the spirit off. She cries out in frustration, and swings her weapon in a throwing motion, aimed at the prone old woman.

June cries out as her best friend stands against the hostile Being. Her hand reaches out to him, willing Fate itself to bend in his favor. Dexter's right hand, held facing upwards at his side as though ready to present a gift, blurs forward in an arc of bright silver. The Snow Woman screams in rage and pain, as the blade cuts across her body. Clear crystals spew from the wound, glittering on the ground.

Khulai stands proud and at the ready, the shaft of his cane in his off-hand, a revealed sword in his right. He does not have to wait long for the Spirit's response. She comes at him furiously, her previous smooth motions turned into brutal hacks at this insolent cur. He is caught unprepared for her fury, and her weapons open a long wound along his left forearm. His blood instantly freezes the moment it hits the ground. Her voice is like icicles in your brain. "Flee, or die! I offer mercy to the ignorant, but not the insolent. Obey my commands, or perish!"
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Pixel runs forward, then turns and chucks her doll across the courtyard. Her VR goggles show the true reality underneath the mundane, and once she understands information, she can hack it. Her doll is far more than an animatronic puppet. She raises a piece of unknown equipment, and an erratic field of very uncertain, slightly purple, energy fills the space between the Snow Woman and the Mages. It has very nebulous borders, and a high-pitched electrical buzz sounds aloud.

The Yuki-Onna stands still for a long moment, the kama blade held loosely in her hand. The blood crystalizes on the icy edge, then sloughs off as red snow. As the chaotic barrier goes up between her and the humans, her head tilts to an unnatural angle, and her voice turns curious. "Do you think your pathetic magics will save you? You are not a true Monk. You do not know the Binding Way. If I have to kill every single one of you, I will. Mercy is only for the Worthy."

The Romani's only response is to take a defensive stance, egging her on to attack him. His courage is strong, and his empathy motivating. Without further warning, she swings the weighted end of her weapon, flinging it straight at Dexter's chest. He shifts his body sideways, swinging the sword to bat the clawed mass out of the way. But as it moves through the barrier the Virtual Adept summoned, the purple light intensifies and brightens, and the metal is completely deflected away. The Snow Woman squawks in surprise, yanking the weight back and spinning it again.

-----

Jon and Dexter nod to each other, working together as a team to press the Yuki-Onna. They've barely had any conversation yet, but each of them is clearly competent in battle, and courageous in standing their ground. Comrades in arms, if only for this moment. Dexter is stiff from his injuries, his whole body freezing from the latest assault, but perhaps at least the cold will slow his blood loss. He keeps his cane in front of him, flicking ranging shots towards the Spirit with his blade. Her attention is focused on him, her chain swinging swiftly on the high line to deflect each of the shots that get through the Ward.

This offers a perfect opening to the Monk. Jon waits until the kama starts another upswing to parry Dexter's sword, his stance deep and stable, patient, and strong as the earth. The moment the time is right, he pivots on his left leg, pivoting around and slamming his foot squarely into her center of mass. He feels a solid connection, bones or whatever she's made of loudly snapping. Despite her slight frame, there is a heaviness and solidity to her, more than would be in a mortal. She doubles over from the blow, her face slamming into the Ward, and the bottom half of her Mask cracks off and falls to the ground.
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The Snow Woman staggers back, stunned by the kick. The bottom of her face is now visible. Her lips are pulled tight in a rictus of hate, while her eyes maintain the perfect blank serenity of her Mask.

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The Snow Woman snaps her head to June as she talks, then turns her gaze to the Singers. "I have been distracted by you for too long. This physical form means nothing to me. Cut me, banish me, it matters not, as long as the little humans die." She lifts her arm, and a blaze of light coalesces, this time not as a cold spear, but as a pool of deadly cold.

Jon backpedals, slips on the icy ground and turns it into a roll, coming to his feet in front of the elderly couple. Their adult son looks up, as he struggles to drag them to safety. The Akashic sets his feet, placing himself directly between her and them. He raises his right hand, and his emerald ring glows in return, the dragon motif visible to all. "I deny you, Spirit. Life will prevail this day, not vengeance nor death."

The Spirit snears in derision. "So be it, Magi." Then the world turns blue.
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After everyone's eyes recover, Jon is still standing, his arm held out in defiance. The storefronts, street lights, and cars behind him are shattered, torn apart by the very concept of cold. However, a small triangle of protected ground remains behind him, where the trio stares up in amazement and disbelief. The Monk has not weathered the storm without consequence, however. His skin is blackened and cracked, blood flowing freely from wounds along his entire body. He slowly sinks to his knees, even his willpower bowing to the limits of his mortal frame. His eyes never lose their determination, never dimming as he stands between the darkness, and the light.

-----

Everything has come down to this. Whatever previous gentility has been evinced by the creature, her true nature stands revealed. Hatred, rage, and deadly corruption, bared to the world. Such a thing should not Be, not in this world. The Romani fully abandons his previous delaying action, sets his stance, and lunges at the Snow Woman. She is completely distracted by June's entropic assault, and her torso parts like water, until the Tsuba crashes against her sternum, driving her backwards.

With finality, the mysterious Priest snaps closed his Bible, as though closing the door to any mercy or reprieve. The evil deeds the Spirit has done are written in the Book of Life, and she now stands Judged. He holds forth a flame, speaks words of Power, and the fire fans out into a man-sized Cross, standing firmly against the Darkness. Dexter's assault drives her right onto the holy fire, and she is completely consumed.

A moment later, all that is left is Ulrich blinking at a Katana sitting only a couple inches from his face. The Snow Woman has been banished by the Sword and the Flame, and all can feel the Gauntlet returning to normal. The bright energy of her presence is barely present, and the darkness of night is returning in full force. All of the street lights are broken, and few lights in the surrounding buildings are working either. The magical fog is thinning, but only slowly. This is San Francisco, and fog is a fact of life around here.

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As though an eternity has passed, the Vision ends, and the Enochian runes that powered the supernatural display fade to nothing. Master Robertson sets aside his staff, no longer needing the instrument. He waits a long minute of silence, letting everyone recover their senses. "Without expectation or command, these were willing lay down their lives for their fellow man. May you all understand deeper their character, and accord them the respect they have so richly earned."
Rule Number 12: "A soft answer turneth away wrath. Once wrath is looking the other way, shoot it in the head."

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Re: Chapter 1: __________ is Magic

Post by Muskrat » Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:48 pm

Pixel is started to see Roberts summon a vision of their fight with the snow spirit. She looks over at Khulai, puzzlement plain on her face, then looks back at the vision. Why is he showing this? she wonders. Is it somehow connected with the attempt to frame Hash? Only when Roberts speaks at the end of the vision does the whole thing make sense to Pixel. So he wants everyone to know that we're good people. She feels a sense of relief deep in her gut.

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Re: Chapter 1: __________ is Magic

Post by RorytheRomulan » Sat Feb 15, 2020 4:28 pm

New Guy stares at the light show like he's glued to a TV screen, losing his aloof posture and leaning in. It's very different from being told, to see what they did. When it's finally over, he acknowledges Robertson's proclamation with an absentminded nod while staring at Khulai. The dapper fellow seems to have recovered pretty well.

His imaginary friend swims loops in dolphin form, chirping excitedly. /These guys are awesome! I didn't like the fade-outs, I wanted to see all of it!/
I know! That was...

"Pretty rad," he mumbles, barely above a whisper, before recovering. "Uh--yeah. Respect accorded, I mean. Kudos."

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