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Parallel Story: Magician in the Parlor
Thu May 20, 2010 4:59pm

NRP: This is just a little somethingorother with an NPC of mine.


Poker chips and cigarette butts spilled across the floor as one more hopeful had his savings erased from his bank account. The fate-stricken man held his trembling hands around his head before numbly picking his coat from the back of his chair and shuffling out of the observational booth with the sullen meander only freshly broken men can manage. The victor puffed on a cigar and adjusted his gaudy sunglasses as he raked in his winnings, not bothering to collect the chips his lesser had sent careening off the table. After his winnings were neatly folded into his ever growing mountain of plastic gold, he made an elaborate show of snuffing out his smoke in the loser's nearly drained whiskey glass. Bewildered applause followed.

"And that, ladies, is how you get ahead in the world." Reclined lazily in what should have been a CEO's modern throne, flanked by two exotic consorts, and attired in a half unbuttoned silk shirt and impossibly crisp blazer, the man was the king of the parlor. A natural charisma and unnatural luck had earned him the attention of the entire room, and that was of course just how he liked it. He endured the exaggerated affections of his girls before sitting up and putting an arm around a pile of wagers large and lust-inducing enough to count as his third lady of the night. "Alright, gents. Same wager as the last dozen. Winner takes all." A winning grin and boyish twinkle in his eye had the most drawing effect on even the most reluctant gamblers, but everyone had started to see the chips as an altar of impossible finance, ever demanding but never satisfied by their sacrifices. The room remained silent.

His grin faded as a quiet wall of calculated disinterest built itself around the other patrons, some of them even excusing themselves from the parlor without having played a single game. "What, don't tell me you've all gone cold on me all of a sudden." Further soured by the continuing lack of attention, he scooped the cards back into the deck he'd commandeered from the house's dealer and tapped the back three times. As the magic he'd woven into the cards came undone, the ink assumed its correct place on the 52 stacked faces. Winning was easy with magic. A willing audience was something else entirely. Most of the room had cleared out when an obviously uncomfortable attendant approached him.

"The race is starting soon, sir."

Without a word, the man kicked his chair into a spin, pushed off against the floor, and came to a rest with his heels against the edge of the observation window. He was an exceptionally generous winner; for all his candor, he'd planned on secretly repaying the men he'd ruined with what would seem like strokes of heaven-sent luck. Losing galled him to his core, however, and the true game he'd been playing was a social one. Not poker.

"Would..." The attendant swallowed and started over. "Would you like me to package your winnings, sir?"

He just rested his cheek on his upturned palm like a bored teenager and said, "Keep it." like the hundreds of thousands of dollars were pocket change. Sensing the attendant's blank stare, he held up his other hand. "Wait. You keep half. Divide the other half between these two." He motioned to the consorts and looked up to them with a raised eyebrow. "That ought to take care of our agreed upon contract." There was some small comfort in being the only person in the room not reeling at the implications of mere words. While the attendant hurriedly agreed and started to divide his treasure heap, the girls put on an extra layer of affection in hopes of earning another display of effluence. To their dismay, the race was just about under way, and Ark's attention was far from his lost battleground.

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