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Connections, Money and Secrets [Almaz]
There was no wound to gauge the infection. There was only the growing intensity of the hordes presence. It pulled at Nox's mind. His control waned and he wanted to give in. His ribs ached from the crash. The blood in his mouth tasted glorious. The scent of battle embroiled the horce. Nox closed his eyes and felt the pressure of the man as he scurried away from him as Nox felt the charge of the giant gorilla shaped horde beast clambour towards him. Anger. Fury!

And then Nox opened his eyes and the beast was inches from his face snarling and saliva dripping from its mouth. A giant fist pounded to the side and Nox smirked as he pushed his will onto the horde. It obeyed his will. The power of the gods and the weight of the horde he could reign the world with an iron fist.

Memories of past deeds flooded his mind. Horrors of things he'd done -- things he'd seen his father do. Some were worse because he'd been so young to witness such deeds. They weren't evil. But eviscerating bodies of men and women for being born the way they were. Sentients, wolfkin, sirens, furia, gods were just the latest of the deluge upon which the Atharim slaughtered...

His grip faded and the gorilla roared in his face. Chains rattled and the beast took his leave -- leaving Nox for friend not foe in this moment.

The man from the dirt was scaling the fence that separated the ring from the crowd. Nox blinked. His mind returning from the haze of the horde just as the giant beast leapt to the fence and the man was tossed to the ground with a loud thudchunk, his head splattering with the force.

Nox quickly wove a cap of air above them, and shouted towards the crowd. "Off the fence." Anyone who didn't listen would regret it as he ripped a single cable from the lighting above with air and tied it to the fence electrifying it with a sudden jolt.

Hair and flesh burning filled the air as it popped, and the gorilla was catapulted back into the ring. It turned to glare at Nox. The fire of the hordes fury and rage weighed on Nox. He could feel the burning from his hands and feet as the horde relayed the message to his body. He shook his hand and stared back defiantly at the creature with whom he now shared the bond. One of them would not make it.

The wolfbrother was the only combatant left in the ring and he rushed towards the gorilla. The giant beast turned to look at the wolf man with human teeth lunging at it's giant self. Nox flung a wall between the two and growled at the creature. "Leave him alone!" Nox threw a fireball at the beast and it splattered across its chest and he bit back the pain of burning flesh that recoiled in his brain.

The pain didn't stop the horded gorilla as it pounded its large fists against its chest and Nox felt each blow as if he were being beaten to a pulp below. His breath caught in his chest and he gasped for air. The gorilla saw the moment of weakness and bull rushed Nox.

A form from the side knocked Nox clear out of the path of the clambouring beast. Nox gasped for breath as he pulled himself and his would be rescuer to their feet. Nox didn't have time to catch his breath before the beast was rushing towards them again in a fury. They parted ways and the beast crashed between them into the walled ring.

Nox was seeing double. His head hurt. His mind was dazed with confusion from the pain and the horde. It was trying to gain control. Trying to win to fight and Nox held on to the power inside. He pulled on it deeper than he'd done before. He remembered the searing pain of the Ijiraq. And the pain of the night he lost Nova. It seared his soul. Poured pain and anguish into his mind and he held on to it and pushed the horde back.

Nox hadn't killed in the ring -- others had died. He'd done his best to save those he could. Not this time. Fueled by the fire of the power gifted to him and the evil he hated about himself Nox unleashed a flurry of blows. The makeshift iron shaft smashed into the face of the gorilla with a loud crack followed by a lashing around its neck of razor sharp firy wire made of the power of the gods. It snaked around the creatures neck and drew tighter.

And one last tug the head of the horded beast tumbled to the ground and blood splattered everywhere. Nox collapsed to the ground spent from the power and the pain of losing his head. He clutched at his throat with his good hand and he didn't care that the tears flowed hot down his cheeks in pain and loss. Someone helped him up. Nox didn't see who through the tears -- didn't care. Fury and anger washed away left only the emptiness of loss.
Daniil savored the corrected drink upon its delivery. He only glanced at the woman who laid it at his side and offered her a minimal tip in compensation, sending a clear signal of his displeasure. In the meantime, he glanced at a display ticking down the time to the main fight, and out of boredom, retrieved his wallet to scroll mindlessly across the internet. Until, finally, Helena joined him. She was his client, or perhaps she was his employer, he never quite accepted the duality of such labels. Either way, she paid him for services he provided, and Daniil made sure that Almaz remained legal once ownership changed hands. He also made sure that it remained that way. It was Daniil’s maneuvering that kept the money in her slender hands and out of courtroom settlements.

“Finally,” was all he said when she entered. He laid the wallet aside, but not out of reach, as though he might pluck it back if his boredom was not assuaged soon. “You promised something special tonight,” he exhaled like he would believe it when he saw it. She settled into a place near him, and they spent the next few minutes in slightly intolerable stages of chatting and drinking. For instance, her dogs were the subject of some of his attention, perhaps more so than the woman herself. He never reached to touch one, though.

He made no wager. Daniil wasn’t that stupid to waste his own money, and he watched the fight open with all the air of one with no skin in the game. Yet he watched from on high, positioned within the owner’s box as someone of importance, as bodies were flung and blows were landed.

When the cage opened partway through, he outright sat on the edge of his seat, expression wide with surprise. He stared, face flat, lips drawn, eyes burning unblinking while the gorilla ripped apart the combatants one by one.

And as of by magic, its head was plucked from its body like a grape. Blood sprayed jets of red, and a slim smile parted his lips at the gory scene.
Jacob sat near the ring, he wasn't betting and others took closer seats and tables. He only wanted to watch one combatant, and the match was otherwise boring. Two grown men fighting to the death. Someone pushed a sword over the ledge and things got a little more interesting. When the third m an entered Jacob's eyes followed the glittering golden eyes and the feral look on his face. Maybe he had found the reason Nox fought here -- monsters availed the rings.

The two men prior ganged up on the new comer and it wasn't long before the boy joined the foray. He was missing an arm... What the fuck! Instead of a hand an iron rod and ball were attached... What had happened? Few survived monster attacks, most were deadly. Chopping off a limb was a quick means to saving a new bite of the chupa. Interesting...

But it was the things that followed next that drew Jacob to the edge of his seat. While Nox took a beating the mystery guest arrived. A fucking animal. But it didn't behave like any enraged animal he'd seen. And Nox seemed connected to it. He reacted when the creature got hit, or hurt. The fire ball roared and splattered against the creatures chest and Nox took a step back like he'd felt the pressure and intensity of his own doing.

He fell to the ground clutching at his throat when he ripped the head off the creature much like it had done to the first man it had reached. As they dragged Nox away stumbling in pain he muttered. "Burn the body."

Nox broke free of those guiding him away and fire encompassed the creature. The blood splatter on the ground erupted into flames like it had been ignited by oil. The boy looked more himself. The fire flickered in his eyes and Jacob new the kid was dangerous but he'd saved the wolfkin from harm. He'd kept the beast in the ring. He was killing the parasite... chupa weren't telepathic, the gorilla didn't look like a chupa infected creature -- didn't act like one. Was something else going on?

Jacob got up from his seat and headed for the door. He had much to think on.
Violence had never been Ashton's thing. He chose love over violence any day. This whole thing was wrong but Mistress Blackthorn had insisted. She had a special treat waiting for his mark.

Ashton had no idea what it was. Was it this match? The golden eyed man? Or was it the beast that savaged the men in the ring before brutally dying itself. Ashton sat and watched the whole spectacle with wide eyes and a growing feeling in his stomach. It was nausea, but it was more than that. He wanted to double over and hurl at the sight of the men being ripped apart. But what really scared him was the invisible nature of the way his mark fought. Tiny glipses of the power he held. The Ascendancy transformed a massive structure into something far more complicated and it was awe inspiring, but this -- this was deadly.

The creature's head popped off it's body like a childhood dandylion might have, with just a flick of the thumb but this was the size of a log. Ashton stared in uttere horror. How was he ever going to keep a man like that from doing the same thing to him once he found out what he was doing. Ashton didn't wait to see what happened after the head fell to the ground, he hurried out of his seat and away from the ring.

And walked right into someone...

[[ ooc: anyone can step in here if you want, otherwise I'll just randomize an npc character type ]]
[[Jaxen continued at: We've been waiting for you.]]
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Jaxen +
Loki +
+ Jole +
Spectra enjoyed the attention as much as a queen walking among commoners. She spoke to none, though, and by the haughty angle of her chin, she wasn’t interested in doing so either. She eventually went to the bar and pressing her palms against the rail, leaned forward to catch the attention of the worker.

“I’m looking for Daniil Tarasovich,” she said sweetly. Yet there was an anger behind the phrase. She hated that she was here by invitation, let alone by some man, but she was still looking for the right power to usurp before coming into her own. Perhaps this little princeling of Moscow could be it.

“He’s with Ms. Asquith. I’ll send a message,” the bartender moved to contact another worker to share the word that his apparent ‘date’ had arrived. Spectra’s eyes narrowed. Not only was she here at the his behest, but he had the audacity to split his attention with another woman.

About then, loud noises erupted from downstairs. Everyone was paying attention to videos on display, and of course, it soon occupied Spectra’s attention as well. She turned to watch, finding herself disgusted at the gory fighting. Still, sure to her ears, there was an animalistic roaring in the distance to match the screens, and she glanced at the floor as if some beast might come bounding up at any moment.

“¡Qué gonorrea este lugar!” she murmured under her breath, stifling her fear.

((This place is awful, Colombian slang.))
Jacob watched the scene burn like it was the last thing on earth. He was cleaning up whatever mess that the creature made. What it was that made it behave like a monster. It was beyond everything he could imagine. What was this boy into? It was about time he figured it out.

But that proved to be more difficult than he thought. They didn’t just let anyone into the pits. But apparently, acting like one of Nox’s trollops would work. “I only let his hussies down, for a price.”

Jacob laughed. “And what price is that. We had an arrangement.”

The guy at the gate, his eyes raised and he looked in thought. His head tilted to the side as he considered. “I saw him with Rusayev.”

“That’s for later. You know a guy like that has certain appetites…” Jacob winked.

“It makes sense.” he sighed and opened the gate and let Jacob slip past. It helped that if it weren’t for the age difference and the fact that he thought of the boy as a son he could fully have gotten behind the words. Nox reminded Jacob so much of Noah.

Jacob walked through the tunnel down to the floor and looked around as he did. The whole place smelled of blood and almost death. Nox was standing in the entry way of the arena he’d just exited. He glared at Jacob. He wasn’t really looking at him though, more just angry and flying on the emotions of the fight he just ended.

“What?” he growled.

“Not here to fight or steal your girl.”

“She’s not mine. I ask again, what?” He said as he sat down on the bench and stared into the arena and glared at the ashes.

“Seems you have a knack for getting into trouble and out of it. The Atharim have an offer.”

Nox laughed. “They are negotiating now. Instead of hunting me down and killing me. Got it. They can fuck off. That means you too.”

Jacob chuckled too. He sat down next to Nox and leaned on his elbows and stared into the arena. “I don’t think the main faction of Atharim will stop hunting you. But with your hacker friend in the system he can make your life a lot easier.”

Nox shook his head. “Someone wants my hacker to do a thing and I get what? My life.”

“No I think, that’s never going to be yours. But freedom of information. I just need a connection. And the hacker will need to stay in the system.”

Nox shrugged. “Whatever. Phone.”

Jacob handed Nox his phone. He tapped a few screens and numbers and then handed it back to Jacob.

“Done now.” Nox said and walked away. Jacob chuckled. “The guy at the gate thinks we are an item now.”

Nox just nodded. “Never gonna happen, old man.” He smirked as he stalked off to the showers.

“Your grandfather thought it was alright.”

He waved. “I did not need to know that.”

Jacob chuckled and left the underdark through a door marked exit. He’d gotten what he came for.
At least he knew why Jacob chose now to approach him. It was easier than showing up at the club Nox guessed. He grabbed his arm and wallet from his locker. He sent Raffe a text.

Kasun is safe. Alive. Fought him in the arena at Almaz.

The tucked the wallet back in his pocket and headed towards the showers. He hadn't even looked for Ori yet. He figured if she wanted him gross and blood splattered that she'd have stuck around down below. If she was even here at all. He didn't expect her to stick around, he'd be pleasantly surprised if she did. But the shower was welcome either way.

Nox made sure to avoid the ones the others used and opted for the cold running showers. It didn't take much to warm the water himself in the pipe running up the shower. Pressure was better and he was mostly alone with the hot water pelting his skin.

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