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Seong Kwon-Liang

Once very wary of others, she has since changed her tune. Having friends in nice, in her opinion.

0 · 358 views · located in A multiverse of connected worlds with magic

a character in “Intertwine”, as played by TheKeeper

Description

Age: 30

Gender: Female

Race: Human

Physical Appearance:
Her appearance is quite striking, considering her asian heritage. Her bright blue eyes contrast greatly to her nearly black hair, always left down. Her honey-colored skin is slightly tanner due to her spending so much time outdoors. She is a tall individual, standing at a solid 5'10, and her endeavors as an explorer have gifted her with a stellar build befitting a fabulous human being such as herself. Her attire consists of a white blouse worn under a leather vest, coupled with fitting black pants and worn brown leather boots. Over all of this is worn a long, regal white coat - complete with golden runes, circles and trim. Others often find it confusing that she could be in possession of such a beautiful piece of clothing yet still opt to wear the worn old garb underneath it all. Over the coat is worn a leather strap to accommodate for weapons and supplies, allowing easy access and storage. (Because of her strange style of dress, she is easily recognizable and may need to disguise herself. Her second outfit is composed of a white dress shirt, a pale golden waistcoat, a pair of black slacks and dress shoes, and a tuxedo jacket complete with coattails and a pair of white gloves.)

Personality:
She is a rather crass individual - sassy, brazen, crude, brutally honest, and sometimes even rude to a certain degree. Despite this, people often find her to be rather likable and are often drawn to her and her energetic childishness. She herself always seems rather excited about life, but at times can be a bit of a downer due to her tendency to be extremely blunt. She also has a ego the size of a whale, and will never hesitate when explicitly given the opportunity to brag about herself, although she is otherwise very accommodating and kind. Despite all of her childish and immature qualities, others see her as quite the mother figure, and she often acts the part as well. She is protective of the very few people that she trusts and has grown close to, and will go to great lengths to see them smiling and happy. Unlike her partner, she is able to kill without being outwardly affected by it. This is why she will often be the first to engage an opponent; so that Nate does not have to witness the bloodshed.

Focus:
Her focus is a combination of a Magi-tech pistol and a circular steel shield. The pistol changes often because of her tendency to leave it in disuse, thus breaking it or losing it. She can easily create another compatible gun by using her magic to engrave her markings upon it's surface, making it usable to her and only her. Her shield is of average size and crafted out of reinforced steel. Its surface is engraved with a pattern that allows for the use of thirty-eight different magic circles. She holds basic knowledge of circles that channel elemental magic, allowing for welcome diversity in her arsenal. Her gun is used only as a last resort, and fires something she calls "Spiritual Ammunition", or Soul Bullets as Nate likes to call them. Each bullet carries a bit of her soul, and will harm her a bit with each shot loosed from the barrel of the gun. She carries a sword used only for the execution of opponents. This sword is capable of being used as a focus for her relinquishment, although she has never done it.

Magic types:
She is a master of both Symbology and Relinquishment, and holds an advanced level of understanding in the Chantry arts. She uses magic circles crafted by her own hand and placed onto the surface of her shield. The shield itself is also an outlet for her relinquishment magic, and even contains a separate circle on the underside of the shield for her to do so. The circles used most often in combat are either barriers or force spells that affect gravitational forces in, on or around something, allowing for her to stop an attack completely, force someone or something away from herself or a comrade, crush something, send it flying, etc. Very few of the circles on the shield are dedicated to summoning magical projectiles that can be fired and controlled while they are active, and only one circle is dedicated to sealing. She specializes in a form of Relinquishment magic that is called "Spirit Displacement", allowing her to take parts of her spirit and store them inside of other things, or use them to augment other things. Her magic is even capable of bringing inanimate objects to life, breathing it into them by putting her soul inside. She is also capable of a form of Soul Projection, another type of relinquishment magic, that allows her to separate spirit and body. In this state, she is mindfully controlling her own soul and using to it directly affect the souls of other living beings. Doing this is extremely dangerous because her soul is just as vulnerable in this state. These forms of relinquishment magic are capable of being done rather quickly, but the more time and effort that is put into a relinquishment technique, the better and more stable the outcome. Because of this, she will often rely on her Symbology and Chantry magic in battle. Her chants are used mostly to augment the power of her circles, allowing for stronger defensive/offensive spells.

Proficiency in casting arts:

Relinquishment: 6 (due to mastering an extremely rare form of said magic type)
Symbology: 5
Chantry: 3

History:
Even to those who have known her all her life, her story is a complete mystery. When asked, the most she will ever say is that she grew up in a very normal way with a very dysfunctional family. She might sometimes mention the divorce, her fathers death due to a stroke, or about how her teachers refused to keep teaching her because of his death and her subsequent lack of money. Only once has she ever mentioned that she used to be quite shy and reserved, something anyone can hardly believe. She herself is easily reminded of the years after her fathers death; in which she worked at a bar, met the woman who helped her master her magic, began traveling around from layer to layer, and was eventually trafficked around the layers as a sex slave. When she was freed by the busting of the chain that had slaved her, she relearned the principals of her magic and mastered it once again by age twenty-two. After setting out on more of her travels as a licensed explorer of the remote parts of the layers, she began to develop her own forms of magic as a form of idle entertainment, something Nate always asks her about. When she met him, she was twenty-seven and in a bad mood. Bickering eventually led to jolly cooperation, which in turn eventually led to a jolly partnership between the two of them. Through this, they have both learned more about themselves and have agreed that they became better for it. On occasion, she is asked why she learned magic. She always responds with, "To use it to better both yourself and the world - that is the purpose of Magic and its existence," which is rather cryptic for someone who always remarks that they are bad with words.

So begins...

Seong Kwon-Liang's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lysander Mirtha Character Portrait: Abelle Character Portrait: Subject 943 AKA "Nine" Character Portrait: Nathaniel "Nate" Shin Character Portrait: Seong Kwon-Liang Character Portrait: Adalia Valentina Chriselda Savoy
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#, as written by Senato
Today was going to be an interesting day, at least that was what Nate had told himself multiple times as the newly formed expedition group was getting together for the first time. They were gathering in a small plaza at the back of the expedition hall situated in the largest city of Saher; Umkathiz. Nate stood beside his friend, Seong, looking around at the other people gathered here. Most seemed to be your run-of-the-mill explorers, however there was one that seemed to stick out to him, he was thin yet covered from head to toe despite the somewhat warm temperature today.

“Nate.” Seong said whilst nudging Nate’s side, “Stop staring at people.”

Nate quickly turned to his friend, “Sorry...” he replied somewhat downtrodden, “but that guy just gives off a weird vibe, you know?”

Seong sighed, “Just give it a rest for now. You’ll get plenty of time to meet all these people during the expedition.”

“This ought to be fun though!” Nate said, changing the subject, “A new layer, oh I can’t wait to see what it holds!” He said with a large smile on his face, “Maybe they’ll have some really cool carnivorous plants or like 4-winged flying behemoths, or...”

Seong cut him off as she pointed to the woman walking towards the gathered explorers. The woman was wearing a beautiful Victorian dress, which was navy blue in colour, and got darker as the dress got closer to the ground. She wore a small black coat which only covered the upper half of her torso. Her cherry-brown hair was neatly tied up and she walked with elegance and a sense of superiority. She was followed by a cleanly shaven man, with long white hair and blue eyes. He was wearing a neat black suit and held a large cleanly carved ivory staff, with golden accents on the ends.

As the two arrived in front of the group, the man raised his left hand, signalling the group to become silent, which they did. “Good afternoon. I am professor Brayden, authority on dimensional travel and master of the expedition hall. You have been chosen as members of the expedition to a layer recently discovered, you shall be the first to step foot onto this layer and shall be involved in making first contact with any sentient race that lives on this layer. I shall now give word to the chosen leader of this expedition, princess Adalia of the Savoy household.” He ended with a gesture towards the woman standing beside him, and then took a step backwards.

The woman took a good look at the group before eventually opening her mouth, “My name is Adalia Valentia Chriselda of the Savoy household of Kosem. I am both the leader and diplomat of this expedition. We shall be entering this layer with little knowledge of its climate and even less of its inhabitants, and thus all decisions from the moment we have crossed over, shall be made by myself. If you cannot take orders then I suggest you leave at once, however if you are capable of listening to my commands then I welcome you into this expedition.” She took a moment to gauge the groups’ reactions, noting every sigh and nod. “The actual expedition shall begin in 3 days, in this time, we must learn one-another’s strengths and weaknesses and overcome any possible obstacles that may reveal themselves.”She once again gauged the groups’ reactions before continuing. “We need to be able to trust each other if we wish for this expedition to go smoothly. If you refuse to comply with this, then I shall not allow you to join this mission. That is all.” With that, Adalia stepped back and nodded towards the professor, who then stepped forwards again.

“You will all stay here, at the Expedition hall. We have enough rooms to house all of you. Our workers will show you to your rooms shortly, also, feel free to make use of any of our facilities.” With that, both the professor and Adalia turned to walk away discussing matters between them.

“Well...” Seong began, “That was something, eh Nate? Nate?” She turned to where Nate had been standing to notice that he was no longer there, “Nate?” looking around she noticed him heading towards the same man he had been staring at earlier. She brought her palm to her forehead whilst sighing. “Honestly...” she began walking towards him but was cut off by a young man who seemed to all but jump in her way.

“Excuse me!” The young man replied, he was slightly shorter than Seong, with spikey blond hair and dull brown eyes, “You’re See-on Kwon-Ling, right, right?!” he asked, having completely butchered her name.

She looked at him for a moment, “No, I am not See-on, but I am Seong Kwon-Liang.” She replied sarcastically.

“Oh, sorry...” the young man quickly became more timid.

“You can’t really blame him, can you? I mean it is a difficult name to pronounce if no one has ever told you how to.” Another young man said, joining the conversation. He, unlike the blond, was short and had shaggy brown hair tied into a ponytail. “The name’s Lysander, nice to meet you.” He said, extending a hand in Seong’s direction, which she slowly took hold of and shook.

Having been backed up by someone else, the blond perked up again, “I’m Colt!” he said eagerly, “I’ve heard a lot about you, you’re like a really great adventurer right?!”

Seong looked at him before realizing the situation she was in, “Why yes. Yes I am.” She said confidently, “I’ve been on many expeditions before this one, and like the previous, this one will succeed with ease.”

Colt was clearly star struck and Seong was enjoying every minute of it, Lysander however, wasn’t quite as easily impressed, “Guess we’re lucky to have you with us.” He stated with a small hint of sarcasm.

“You sound doubtful.” Seong pointed out with a smile, “Perhaps retelling one of my old expeditions would help ease your mind...” without even giving Lysander a chance to reply she began telling a long story of one of her old expeditions, slightly embellished for dramatic effect, of course.

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In the mean time, Nate had made his way to the isolated man he had seen earlier.

“Are you sure we should still join this expedition?” A soft, gentle voice said, it seemed to come from where the man was standing.

“We need this to afford living.” The man said bluntly, “We aren’t in danger or anything like that, so why are you worrying?”

“Well...” The soft voice began

“Hey there!” Nate shouted as he patted the man’s back, “How you doin’ ?” He questioned inquisitively.

The man turned to look at Nate, staring at this strange person. “What do you want?” he said slightly annoyed

Nate looked at the man’s eyes noting the eye patch. He also caught a glimpse of the man’s white hair. “I’m just being friendly,” Nate began with a smile, “I mean, we’re all meant to get to know one another right? That’s what the leader just said anyway.”

The man scoffed, “You can call me Nine.” He replied, just then a small orange furred Anoan peaked out of his pocket.

“Oh wow!” Nate said, “I haven’t seen an Anoan adventurer in, like, forever!”

“My name is Abelle.” The small furry Anoan said in a rather soft voice.

“My name’s Nathaniel, but you can call me Nate!” He said with a smile, before extending his right hand towards Nine. Nine simply stared back at Nate’s hand, “It’s not that hard,” Nate said jokingly, “You just grab and shake.” After a moment of awkward silence, Nine slowly shook Nate’s hand. Neither Nine nor Abelle said anything afterwards, prompting Nate to keep the conversation alive, “So... have you two been working together long?”

Nine and Abelle looked at each other for a moment, “We’ve been a team for quite a while now, yeah.” Nine responded.

“Ever been on a new layer expedition like this one?” Nate questioned

“No.” Nine responded dryly

“You know,” Nate began as his voice dulled down a bit, “If you want to hide something, dressing so obviously and acting so isolated isn’t really going to help your efforts.” He stated

Nine starred at Nathaniel, surprised by his sudden remark. Abelle’s stare went straight to Nine’s face, then over to Nathaniel, then back to Nine, though in this time, and for several minutes thereafter, not a word was spoken between the two.

Nathaniel then broke the silence with a smile, “Well, I gotta get back to my partner!” He said, “I’ll definitely see you two around, and don’t be strangers!” with that, he hurried off back to Seong, whom was still boasting to the two men gathered near to her.

“You really sure you still want to join this expedition, Nine?” Abelle questioned, a little uncertain, “Isn’t this maybe a little unsafe?”

Nine shook his head, “We’ll be fine. That guy wasn’t threatening us.” He stated bluntly

“What? How do you know that for certain?” Abelle responded, “It seemed like a threat to me.”

“He was conveying his opinion.” Nine stated, “He has a point too, on an expedition like this, it may be better to blend in.”

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

Adalia sat opposite Professor Brayden, they were inside a small lounge within the expedition hall.

“Any opinions on the recruits, Miss Savoy?” the professor questioned before taking a sip from his cup of tea

“Not quite yet, Professor.” Adalia replied, “I have some ideas but I will need to observe them a little more before I can formulate a proper opinion on them. I do believe, however, that not all of the gathered adventurers shall be joining the actual expedition.” She leaned back into her chair before looking out the window. She could see that most of the adventurers were still in the plaza, some talking in groups, others were checking their gear and making sure they had left nothing behind, and a small few were following their guides to their rooms.

The professor lay his cup down on the table, “You seem quite confident and sure for someone who is leading their first expedition, most people are rather worried their first time round.” He stated as he looked straight at her

“Well, you could say I’m not an average person.” She replied before meeting his gaze, “My family has trained me quite well, and I doubt that anything that could happen during this expedition will be beyond my abilities. They would not have chosen me as the family’s representative, were that the case.” Her words were rather confident, and it was not the fake kind of confidence. Professor Brayden had seen and organised many an expedition, and he could easily tell when someone was hiding their insecurities with fake confidence and this was not the case.

Having finished his tea, the professor grabbed his staff and stood up, before turning to Adalia one last time, “Allow me to give you one warning.” He began, “It’s nothing seriously dangerous, though you will have to keep it in mind throughout the course of your expedition.” Adalia looked at him, displaying genuine interest in what he was about to say. “Roughly half of these adventurers are seasoned veterans; they have been on many dangerous expeditions and have likely encountered a weak leader more than once. If you cannot prove yourself as a strong willed leader, then it will be difficult for you to maintain the command that you currently demand. Out there, rank is not always first on peoples’ minds.”

Adalia nodded, “Thank you.” She replied before turning to look at the plaza once more, “I shall keep that in mind.” She watched the professor through his reflection in the window, as he walked away. He came to a sudden stop when a rather beautiful woman entered the room, prompting Adalia to turn and look at her. She was likely a fellow Barad, as she had markings on her face and legs, from what Adalia could see. She had tanned skin and long pale blue hair. Her clothing was quite revealing yet she still had some aura of elegance surrounding her.

“Oh. Miss Poside, I thought you were only going to arrive tomorrow?” Professor Brayden questioned

She looked at him through her pale blue eyes and smiled, “My appointment for today had been dropped, so I no longer needed to stay in Kosem, and thus thought I should arrive as soon as possible.” She replied with a wink, “How are the plans for the expedition coming along?”

“It seems to be going quite well.” He replied, somewhat flustered, “The adventurers have been gathered together and are mingling. The leader is a young but confident woman, though I don’t know how well she will keep control throughout the journey. The expedition will begin in 3 days time. Will you still be around by then?”

“Oh most certainly!” she replied, “I would just love to see one of these expeditions from behind the scenes!”

The two of them soon left the lounge, whilst Adalia was silently watching. “What a tramp.” Adalia thought to herself as she watched the woman cling closely to the professor’s side.

Lysander could feel his eyes glaze over as Kwon-Liang told a tale about one of the expeditions she hand been on, although he maintained the appearance of being interested in the story. It was interesting, yes, but she was going on and on and on and Lysander wanted to get some things before they all had to board the ship. Granted, they had three days, but he didn't want to be halfway across the new layer before realizing that he had forgotten something like, say, clean underwear or a book. That would just be embarrassing,

Still, it contained useful information about expeditions and how to react during a crisis, so Lysander listened attentively, storing the information away for later use. He was new after all, best to take advice from a senior. Beside him, Colt listened with an expression of awe, making the appropriate noises and gestures at the appropriate times.

At length, Lysander interrupted her tale with an apologetic smile. "Sorry," he said, grabbing hold of Colt's arm. Colt shot a surprised look his way as Lysander continued, shooting a meaningful look towards him, "there're some things we need to get, and the delivery will arrive pretty soon, so we need to go now so that we don't have to pay extra for late recovery and all that."

Remembrance dawned over Colt's face. "Oh yeah!" He exclaimed, and gave Lysander a grateful smile. "Thanks man, I nearly forgot! Im sorry Miss Seong," he said apologetically, quickly firing a quick grin at Kwon-Liang as Lysander pulled him towards the entrance. "Bye! See you later!"

"Yeah, bye! Thanks for the tale!" Lysander called behind his shoulder, changing his grip to accommodate for Colt's position. He had started to pull his own weight, and by the time they reached the entrance Colt was the one dragging him out towards the shopping district while Lysander tried not to stumble. They came to a stop outside, squinting against the bright afternoon sun as they tried to remember which way to go.

Lysander was the first one to remember. "I think it's that way," he said, pointing towards the right. It was the way they had arrived from, and he could remember that the shopping district was a few streets away.

"Yeah, but I know a short cut." Colt stretched and looked around confidently, his eyes having gotten used to the sun. After a few seconds, he nodded to himself and strode towards the front without looking back. "Trust me," Colt said confidently, knowing that Lysander would follow him, "I'm a navigator, remember? And I've been here loads, I know the place like the back of my hand."

Lysander shrugged, staying just behind Colt with loose, easy strides. "If you say so," he said doubtfully, following Colt into a back alley.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After changing alleys a few times, a few odd twists and turns and a mugging attempt by a couple of young punks who had ran like the wind when Lysander showed what Colt liked to call his 'werewolf face', they stood in front of an old shop with a wooden sign containing the words 'The Ember Celica' in neat white font at the top of the store. Lysander whistled.

"That took us only fifteen minutes," he said, impressed. It normally took half an hour by the normal route, longer if they were far away. Looking around, he noticed that the shop was surrounded by other shops with the same atmosphere - chic and retro, faded like an old book store. Around them were crowds made up mostly of students, who seemed to be migrating towards a large cafe across the street.

"Don't just stand there, come on in." Colt said impatiently, opening the door. "We've probably made it a few minutes late, but it's less than a day so there shouldn't be any problems." He added, holding the door open for Lysander. Nodding his thanks, Lysander followed him in and stared around him curiously.

The shop was pretty decently sized, and was filled with books and stationary and machine parts. One entire wall was filled with weapons behind a glass case, and behind the counter was a wizen old man with a face like a wrinkled apple and the eyes of a businessman who was reading a newspaper. Colt approached him.

"Excuse me," he asked politely. The old man lowered his newspaper and looked up. Colt continued, "Had a package been delivered here a few minutes ago? It's kind of big and bulky and..."

Lysander zoned out the ensuing conversation and wandered towards a shelf of books, looking through the titles. Romance novels... Nah, not really his thing. Lysander preferred comedies instead of anguished declarations of love; it was less complicated and reminded him of the times he spent with Dad. 'Those were good days...'

Something caught Lysander's eye as he walked reminiscing past a shelf. He paused and came closer, picking the object up to exam it more closely. 'hmmm...'

"Hey, I'm done. Let's get out of - huh?" Colt walked up behind him and peered over Lysander's shoulder, curious to see what he was holding. "What the - a set of markers?" Colt asked in surprise. "You've got loads of them already. You're getting another one?"

"Yeah," Lysander said, walking over to the shop owner. He liked markers, they were more versatile than pens and pencils and were pretty useful when he needed to draw symbols on something. "I can never have too many markers." Lysander said jokingly, placing the set of markers on the counter beside a large rectangle brown package and fished in his pocket for change. Colt snorted, and the shop owner looked up from his newspaper again as Lysander asked "Excuse me, but how much do these markers cost?"

Once they had payed and collected the things they need, the duo departed for the coffee shop, eager to grab a bite to eat. Ten minutes later, Lysander was carrying a bag filled with fast food ("I'm not carrying anything, so I'll take the food." "Thanks.") and Colt was shouldering his package while they walked back into the alleys, heading back to their new lodgings to eat and discuss about the expedition.

#, as written by K0VIP3R
Saher as the central hub for interdimensional travel was a very grand place to say the least. Every city, town and village was well built, maintained and policed, making the dimension as close to a utopia as was thought to be possible. There was however one downside. The criminals that spawned from such a place and the criminal underworld that would then take root inside the dimension would be among the worst known to man. Any place synonymous with travel would be a prime place for smugglers and smugglers bring with them all sorts of characters. Saher’s drug problem was astronomically bad. Drugs were smuggled in large quantities with seemingly no end in sight. The drugs themselves, gave money to the dealers and mob bosses who bought off politicians, allowing seeds of corruption to spread through the utopian government. Drugs brought addicts who often turn into murders, the murders leave survivors who turn into vengeful bounty hunters and criminals themselves. The spiral of evil was pretty much out of control below the ground, yet the public remained unaware of this, only being told certain areas were “off limits”.

Comradery between criminals was low at the best of times. The bars frequented in Saher by the more depraved of society were often trashed in bar brawls, spilled liquor and the occasional blaze set alight by the odd pyromaniac. However many of the gambling dens set up in bars were one of the few places where there was underlying respect between them, leaving aside the cheating. One such place was Smuggler’s Cove, a rather upbeat and rambunctious bar that was well known for its gambling.

On this particular day, as usual, the bar was alive with boasting, drunken songs, brawling and gambling. At the high end table were bets were usually in excess of 100,000 xion (The Interdimensional Currency). The table had what seemed to be a magic aura about it. No fighting would come anywhere near it, a circle of onlookers usually watched the games, often cheering and ogling the money on the tables, many having not seen such amounts in their lives. The game was down to the last two players, the other three having folded already. One was a well dressed man, whose clothes bulged from many years of overeating and lack of exercise. He had a very ostentatious appearance wearing frilled jackets and shirts gold rings, bracelets and a very lucratively bejeweled necklace lay around his neck. He was sweating rather profusely as he tried to down more wine between his fat lips, his monocle shaking a little in his slightly drunken stupor. He placed his wine glass down shakily, groggily waving his two cards in his left hand, a swollen smile planted firmly on his face.

“I must say, you have done well to get this far,” He said drearily, his voice filled with self importance and confidence. “But I think you had better leave and take what little Xion you have left and run along home.” His jibes kick started a raucous amount of laughter from around the table. The man, a high ranking diplomat pushed in a stack of money valuing 500,000 xion. “I raise to 500,000.” The laughter immediately stopped as all eyes became fixated on the money in the pot which was well over 1,000,000 by now. The diplomats eyes were a glimmer with the prospect of victory.

However his opponent did not think so. “All in.” He said as he pushed in his meagre funds into the pot. His voice rang with a Southern twang. The man looked up at his opponent, tipping his hat to him, a black backed card attached to it via a ribbon. The man took a large sip of the whiskey he had next to him.

“All bets are in.” The dealer called out, bringing about a hefty silence around the bar. The five cards on the table were perfect for a straight: A 10, Jack, Queen of clubs. Plus a 2 of diamonds and a 5 of spades. The diplomat put his cards on display. An 8 and 9 of clubs.

“Straight Flush!” He yelled in triumph getting a hearty cheer from the men surrounding the table and respectable applause from the folded players.

“There’s no way that country bumpkin could beat that.” Shouted one man from the crowd.

“Aye! That shithead’s royally screwed.” Joked another.

“Just fold and be done with it!” A woman shouted to many drunken laughs.

The man played around with his cards a little. “Well partner,” He said almost sullenly. “Looks like you got me…” He threw his cards face up on the table, however all eyes went from glee at his supposed loss to looks of abject horror. “A fair chunk of money. I thank you for your generous donation.” A King and Ace of clubs lay face up on the table. “Royal Flush.”

There was a huge uproar from the crowd as the man began stuffing the money into a large bag he had beside him. The diplomat’s face slowly crumpled into pure rage. “CHEATER!” The crowd all stared at him while the man carried on loading his bag with the rest of the money. “Stop that man and turn out his sleeves. There is no way that you could have those cards.” Men from the crowd surged around the disconcerting man who just put the last of the money in his bag. One man grabbed his wrist and rolled up his sleeve showing his bare right arm. While another rolled up his left revealing a deck of cards that had different backs on them to the cards they had been playing with. However that did not stop the mob from accusing him.

“There see, a second deck of cards. That fucker must have been changing cards.”

“Who woulda thought it, huh?”

“I was right! I knew some peasant could not have beaten me.” The diplomat laughed.

The two men were almost pinioning the cowboy between the two of them, preventing him from moving away as the diplomat stepped forward, a smug grin on his face. “I do not like cheats and neither I’m sure do any of the people here.” A chorus of ayes met his words. “So I think you know what happens next, right? Bumpkin?”

The man remained relaxed despite the situation he was in. It was pretty off putting to those around him to a great extent. “Well I’d say I’m in a real predicament right now, huh?” He looked down at his right hand which unknown to the people in the room had three cards between his fingers. “That was if I was some hopeless babe.” He said with a smirk as he whipped his wrist backwards at one of the men holding him. “Three of a kind.”

The cards flew backwards piercing the man’s torso, ripping him open and allowing blood to spill from his gut. He let go of the cowboy to clutch his wounds, allowing the cowboy to whip another card from his sleeve and slam it into the other man’s chest. “High Card!” He shouted as the card exploded into the man’s body, killing him instantly as his chest was blown open. His eyes then turned to the diplomat, an evil smile playing on his lips. “You’ve made a horrible mistake, callin’ me a cheat, partner,” He whipped the remainder of his deck from his sleeve to his hand and placed the deck down on the ground, placing one finger on top of it. “48 card ocean.” The cards all flew in multiple directions, littering the entire floor with cards. “Ocean of fire.” He said as he picked up his bag. The cards all released a torrent of flame each, engulfing the entirety of the bar. The screams of the people getting hit by the fire alerted the presence of anyone in the vicinity. The town guards were amoung these people who ran towards the burning bar. They were about to call for help dealing with the fire but before they could, a man emerged from the flames unscathed. His tattered brown trench coat fluttered in the wind that seemed to spontaneously and quite appropriately appear out of no where. This man’s sudden appearance caused the guards to immediately point their weapons at him, a mixture of spears and swords.

“Drop the bag and come quietly!” One, the leader, shouted with an air of authority. His troops began inching their way towards him.

This action however only garnered a tut and tip of the hat from the man. “I’m sorry sheriff.” He said with his face hidden by his hat. “I’m afraid that won’t be happenin’ anytime soon. I have things to do, places to be, people to meet, so I’m gonna mozie on outta here.” He took a deck of cards from his pocket and placed both hands on it. “Card rain” The cards erupted from his deck, raining down on top of the soldiers, obscuring his view from them. Using this to his advantage, he fled the scene, but some of the guards chased him managing to escape the card rain. The group ran pell mell through the streets, running past all manner of people and buildings, heading in the direction of the Expedition Hall.

The man looked upon the hall and without a second thought, plowed through the double doors, in view of many of the adventurers.

Marina Poside watched as a familiar figure rammed his way through the doors. “That idiot..” She sighed under her breath as she tried to avoid being heard by the others around her.

The man ran, keeping his eyes trained on the guards behind him and threw a handful of cards in their direction, the cards struck each one of them, piercing through them, leaving the men either severely injured or dead. However not looking where he was going, the man plowed straight into Nathaniel and Seong as the two were investigating what was going on. Nathaniel sprang to his feet, whipping one of his pistols out and placing it in the face of the downed man, allowing Seong to bounce to her feet.

“If I was you friend, I would surrender. I don’t want to kill you,” Nathaniel threatened in a gentle tone.

“Nate, he’s just killed five men, I somewhat doubt he’s going to surrender willingly.” Seong said in a tone of annoyance.

“The lady’s right, boy,” The man said with a smile. “Some yellow belly like yerself wouldn’t be able to scare me. You need to have the balls to carry out your threats. Something I can do and you can’t. Now take that gun away from my face before I kill you.”

“Make me,” Nate said defiantly.

Nate pulled the hammer down on the gun, his finger jumping to the trigger. The man however threw a card at the face of Nate, which exploded in a bright light, temporarily blinding him. He placed another card underneath Nate which fired a column of fire at him which he narrowly avoided in his blinded delirium.

The man leapt to his feet, throwing more cards at Seong and Nate, who threw themselves out the way. Seong rolled, raising her shield and aiming her magi-tech pistol at the cowboy, firing three shots in rapid succession. However to her dismay, her opponent used one of his cards almost like a small knife, deflecting the bullets as they came within range of him. He then threw the card, which only just missed her head by bare centimeters.

“How did you deflect my bullets with mere cards?” Seong remarked in disbelief.

“I’ve never seen magic like that before.” Nate said out of curiosity. He silently studied the man who stood up straighter, radiating an aura of calm.

“My cards aren’t normal, m’lady,” The man explained. “Every one is enchanted. That all I’ll say on the matter.”

At that moment Nine and Abelle rounded the corner to see what all the noise was for. The man immediately sent a trio of cards flying at him. “Wild card.”

Two of the cards missed but the one in the centre of the bunch, the joker, hit Nine’s arm, opening a horrendous wound up on his left shoulder. This caused Nate to run forward, drawing his second pistol and open fire upon the man.

“I don’t think so kid. Card Wall!” Cards erupted from his sleeves and pockets, surrounding him in a protective barrier, blocking each incoming shot.

“I think it’s about time I take my leave. It was fun playing with you kids. Thorned Rose!” a number of cards from the card wall sprang out in all directions in a fiery inferno, completely coating the entranceway in flame. Nate was saved by Seong who got between him and he flames with her shield, using a null magic spell. Nine however was not so lucky. In his desperation to keep Abelle safe, took the brunt of the fire spell. His skin became scorched, his clothes singed and burned. And with that the man vanished from sight, behind the sea of flame.

__________________________________________________________________

The man in question had managed to get a good mile away in a short amount of time, using his knowledge of the streets in the area. He had found himself a secluded area in amongst the alleyways and began counting his money carefully, having not let the bag out of his sight the entire time he had acquired it.

“Matthias…” A voice sounded from around a corner. Matthias stopped immediately and looked around, catching a glimpse of a cane and a part of a man’s body covered by a coat. A book seemed to be in his revealed hand, open as if the figure was reading it. “It would be nice if you could try not to draw attention to yourself. I know the promise of money is something difficult for you to ignore but we can not have your escapades ruining our...no my plans.”

“Well sir, I’m sure no harm was done to your carefully laid out plans,” Matthias said as he stood up, facing in the man’s direction. “But a man’s gotta support himself somehow. Besides...I’m sure this money will be helpful to your plans.” He picked up the bag which only contained half the poker winnings he had earned and threw it next to the figure.

“I have no need of money, I’m sure you realise.” The man said, shutting the book as he did so. “However I’m sure your colleague over there could do with some spending money. I’m sure she would have some use of it.”

“That I would sir.” Sounded the alluring voice of Marina Poside as she stepped out of the shadows. “That would certainly help my cover story of being the delicate and rather beautiful aristocrat.” She walked up beside the mysterious figure and picked up the bag of money. “Of course I would request that someone does not try and blow my cover next time. If I was not so confident in your abilities I would have had to step in.”

“Well missy, I’m more than capable of handling myself. There aren’t many who can match my power.” Matthias boasted.

“Hmmm...I think of at least seven people.” Marina remarked with a wink, causing Matthias to blush.

“So can I, Miss Poside.” He said with a sigh. “Has Shika reported in yet?”

“Not yet no,” The man responded curtly. “She’s maintaining a low profile at the moment. She will make her move soon. As will Heirtif.”

“That psycho? He gives me the creeps, the emotionless bastard.” Marina complained.

“What about…” Matthias started but was cut off immediately.

“They are standing by. Those two are far too noticeable and dangerous to be allowed to roam where they please.” The man interjected with authority in his tone. “Now I suggest we all depart from here. Matthias you will come with me for the moment, I have need of you.” Matthias nodded. “Marina continue with your orders, try not to blow your cover too soon.”

“As you wish sir!” She responded with a bow.

And with that the three vanished without a trace.