The World's Savior is a Deviant?!
After some time of scouring the alleyways, I came upon what I was looking for. The golden letters on top of the metal entrance read, "Lose It And Move It".
“Why did you make me come here? This looks suspicious as fuck. Not that I’m against that, but I would rather not get involved with a bunch of creeps and weirdos. It doesn't smell that shitty, atleast…”
“I heard about places like this when I was traveling from town to town for my village. It's a place where you bet money and play games to win big fortunes and prizes or lose everything.”
Raze snorted. “So you brought us to a fucking casino, yeah?”
I eagerly nodded. “If we go big here, we can easily purchase a good means of transportation with the money we win. I don’t have much money left, so in the end—this is the best option.”
I hope I sounded convincing, but I was getting awfully tired. I never stayed up this late to begin with. Plus, I was still low on mana from the jail break.
“Whatever. Just watch me work my magic and get us the big bucks. I was pretty good at games back in my world.”
He cracked his neck and crossed his arms before waiting at the door like an impatient pet, wanting to explore the otherside.
“Oh, so you want me to open i—”
“I don’t see anyone else around, do you?”
I let out an exasperated sigh. “Right, of course....” With a slow hand, I gripped the metal handle and slowly pulled it open. It was rather heavy for some reason.
I would have thought there was some sort of bouncer for this kind of them? Maybe because they know they are shady, they don’t need someone to keep dangerous people out because they are dangerous?
“Tch,” he clicked his tongue. “women.” He passed me by and strode into the dark abyss past the door. I followed soon after, tired and slightly agitated from his rude comment.
“Welcome, welcome—my glorious patrons! What would you younglings like to play? Feed the Dragon? All for None? Blackjack?”
The man was short and skinny with dark shades that stood out in the disturbingly-bright room around him. He wore green and gold overalls with gold suspenders, and brown pants while sporting a curly black mustache. I glanced past him to discover ten doors, side by side. Each had a different title and was crafted from what seemed like pure gold. The only other sight worth mentioning was a bar with two nicely-dressed men who were having a chat.
“The dragon one sounds interesting, but Blackjack is what I know. Lead the way, sketchy mustache man!”
The “sketchy” mustache man clasped his small hands together after attending to his short crispy blond hair. He had a name tag stitched onto his shirt, as well. It read "Clarse" in the language that was most common for humans.
“Please treat us well, Mr. Clarse.”
He stood up straight when he heard his name and grinned, “Yes, madam. It would be my pleasure. Well then, you two cuties can follow me to door number 3—the Blackjack room.”
Raze made a first pump and I nodded along, excited to see if we actually stood a chance. Speaking of Raze, he was rather polite for someone with such an ugly attitude. He hasn’t even swore since we entered. Perhaps, he was like a different person when he got into something he fancied. I had seen others do the same back home. Either way, I couldn't help but crack a thin smile at this unexpectedly welcomed change of pace.
Clarse led us to the third door on the left and opened it for us. What was inside was most definitely not like the other casinos I had heard about.
I have never seen one of them before…
There was a round table for eight and at the helm sat the representative of the House. He had on a tight black suit with a green bowtie that must have been a custom fit due to his massive skull. His head was covered entirely in scales—and not like the scales of a reptile—but fish scales. They were bright green and shiny, as if they were polished daily. Two massive yellow eyes stuck out like egg yolks on each side of his face. His mouth was agape and through the entire match that we witnessed, it did not move one inch. The guys that sat around him all seemed more like full-on bandits than gamblers. I guess they could have been both, right? Each was full of scars, eye patches, or a cigar with ripped clothing.
“Fucken hell! The Angler got us again!”
“He really is the best Blackjacker around. I haven't ever seen him lose.”
“That's another three golds down the drain; my wife might leave me after this…”
The fish displayed no emotion as he was praised. Instead, he stared blankly in our direction. It felt rather eerie to be on the receiving end of his intense gaze.
Four of the seven got up to leave, while three of the men sitting at the bar behind them swapped places in perfect synchronization.
“It's your turn to take a spill, Angler.”
“I've been stepping up my game.”
Why is he called “The Angler”? He looks more like a rare species of goldfish from what I can tell.
Raze gave me the thumbs up and grinned. “It's my time to shine! Gimme some dough.”
I handed him two silvers. We only had four left in total, but that didn't matter because of the sign in the back of the well lit room. It read: "Whoever can beat the house at least once will be allowed to pick from any of the rewards on display. We couldn’t get money that way, but as long as we could sell something, it would still be worth the risk".
I hope that doesn't mean he’s cheating to always win. It seems like a low chance just from watching the game, though. Despite being a young girl from a rural beast-kin village, I had a pretty good grasp on a lot of games, Blackjack was no different. I made up for my lack of stamina and strength with my vast knowledge. It wasn’t that useful back home, though. Everyone made fun of me…
Raze sat on the opposite side of The Angler; Fish did have a pretty strong smell, after all. I hope he really knows what he was doing.
He wore an arrogant smirk that made it seem as if confidence was just oozing out of him. His scheming visage truly felt overbearing. It had been like this before, but never to this extent. Unlike in our recent endeavors, this time, it seemed as if he would be more than just all talk. Since I came in with him, I was able to stand right behind him and also view his cards. However, I was not permitted to speak until he was out or the game was over. Some of the other players gave me some goofy looks, while probably ogling me, but I chose to ignore them and focus on Raze’s hand.
The fish began dealing the cards out like a madman—or mad fish—in his case. His green flippers (which could somehow hold cards) flung them to each and every member almost instantaneously, before firing off his second salvo. In mere seconds, everyone had their two cards and was ready to go.
I first peered over to see what The Angler had under his flipper. The card he had revealed was a Six of Hearts, something that was rather lackluster in the game of Blackjack. If his other card was a King, Queen, or Jack, he would be at sixteen, one of the worst states to be in in all of the game. To put it simply, there were fifty-two cards in a deck. We had eight players, each with a set of cards. That meant that sixteen out of the fifty-two are missing from the deck, leaving only thirty-six cards in the deck.
While there is a chance he has a card under ten as his face, there's also a greater chance he's got one of the cards that also count as ten—aka, King, Queen, and Jack. That means if he asked for another card from the dealer, he would most-likely pull something that was ten or higher, causing him to lose the round by default. Of course, he could sit on the supposed sixteen or lower and bank on the chances of getting a five or lower, but his chances are very very slim.
I peaked down at Raze’s cards once more. He had an Ace of Hearts and a Seven of Spades. Not too bad, honestly. With the Ace, he could make it act as either an eleven or a one. With the seven he has, he could add it up to a total of eighteen or eight. Taking the latter would be the smarter move since his chances of getting something that was equivalent to a ten was still pretty good.
The guys before him in table order decided to stay where they were. They must have liked their cards. But not Raze, just as I assumed.
“Toss me one.”
The Angler with the same static expression, slid Raze a card with lighting speed.
Alright, let's go!
The card Raze had got was an Ace of Clubs, now he could get a total of nineteen, boosting his chances even more at success. The fact that he had two out of the four Aces in the deck was unbelievably lucky, but I’m not complaining.
We are set for victory or a tie at least, unless everyone else is able to get a twenty or higher.
He was set. Noone before him had revealed their hand, meaning that no one had reached the desired “twenty-one” and the chances of having exactly twenty were not too bad, but a lot lower when split among eight people. All Raze had to do was sit by and and the victory would most-likely come right to him.
—But this was Raze we are talking about. You could never count him out for doing something stupid or rash…
“Slide me another, Fish Face.”
What? Did I hear him right? He knows he has a nineteen, right? Can he not do basic math? Well...maybe he's going for twenty by turning both Aces into ones and adding them to his seven for a total of nine. Wait! Unless he gets a third ace, he will still be at nineteen with only a lower chance to tie since he has more cards than anyone else! What is he doing?!
The expressionless fish fired off another card to the ever-so-confident Raze Havok, who was now grinning from ear to ear. I hoped it wasn't arrogance, but it was Raze we were talking about.... For myself, beads of sweat started to take form on my forehead. I wasn't sure if it was from the overly-warm room or the fact that Raze just threw away his best chance at winning by betting on two/fifty-two chances of getting a twenty. I knew he was greedy, but not this greedy.
Then, I saw the card. My breathing grew ragged as vessels started to rear their ugly head on my temple. It's Four of Clubs, crap!
This was definitely a bad outcome. With what he had before at nineteen, he would now pass over twenty-one! That meant he would have to fold. Luckily, the two Aces could be transformed into 1s, meaning that he really had a total of thirteen. That left only one real solution: go again and hope for an eight or nine. It was all he could do to pull back from his mistake, but perhaps his luck will prevail? I was naive to think so.
He had one more card slid to him and it was a dang Ten of Spades! Now it was over no matter what he did and he knew it.
“Fuck! I lost!”
He sprawled his cards on the table for all to see before rising from his seat, leaving the two silver coins where he sat.
He looked pissed, but he didn't act out like he usually would. If the “normal” Raze was here, he would have immediately attacked the fishman.
“Let me go again. I’ll pound that stinken’ fish into the ground next time.”
Right... He sounds like a true gambler now.
I pointed to the bathroom off to the left, “Go cooldown in there for a few minutes and then I might let you play again.” Wow, I'm like his mom now.
“It's not like you could do better.” He said as he walked towards the restroom.
I watched the rest of the game play out, this time from a seat at the bar that one of the bandit men had generously offered me. Yes—you heard that right. Raze was less of a gentleman than these bandits. At least they understood how to treat a lady.
As I spectated the game from my seat, I witnessed each and every one of the other guys lose to The Angler. His second card was a Five of Hearts and he was able to score a Queen of Spades after that, amounting to a perfect twenty-one. Some of the guys had come close, though. One had achieved a twenty with two cards and the other had a nineteen with three. They had surprisingly strong poker faces as well, but it also could have been due to the thick beard and sunglasses that stuck to each of their aged faces.
I want to strangle Raze, but I guess he would have lost anyway… Plus, I smell something a lot more fishy than Mr. Angler over here. But I can’t prove it—not yet. He might just be that good! Either way, I need to get a closer look.
This fish did seem like the real deal. If we were to gain anything out of this night and not end up broke, I would personally have to take him down.
As soon as the men started to swap with each other again, I quickly stood up. “Please allow me to join in.” I smiled genuinely, while placing the last of our silver on the table. I took the seat on the right of The Angler, keeping a close eye on him.
The game started off like before. The Angler began with a Seven of Spades this time, while I had a Four of Clubs and a Six of Hearts. It wasn't the best, but if I could land a Ten or even an Ace, I most likely had it in the bag. The Angler went first this time, only getting one new card. The card he received from the deck was a five of Spades. He decided not to hit after that. But why was that?
His confidence must have taken a dive after I put an end to his stunt.
I noticed while he was reshuffling the deck that every card had a slight tear, each of them slightly different from the other. They were so small that no human would be able to spot one with the naked eye without a special Skill. Luckily, I wasn't human. I'm sure he was the only beast-kin in this entire place—or at least—in this room. Well, before I came in at least. I had used the rarer part of my [Healing Ward] Skill to “heal” the damaged cards, making sure he wouldn't be able to track them anymore.
I was simply leveling the playing field for myself and the others, so it should have been fine, right? It was then I realized why he was called The Angler. He reeled in his foes with low numbers before pulling out the win with consecutive successful hits from the prepared shuffle. Still, he had to know exactly how many cards each person would ask for—or if they would even ask for one—as he was the last in turn order. Now, that took some real skill to predict. I had to respect him for it.
“Madam, it's your go.” whispered Clarse.
“Oh, whoops! I shook my head to get back in the zone. “Sorry about that,” I said apologetically.
It seemed I was so focused on The Angler that I didn't even notice that three of the guys had already folded, while the other three had more than two cards. If I got what I needed on the first hit, I would win—fair and simple.
“Hit me, please.”
A card immediately flew into my grip. I swallowed instinctively before even acknowledging what card it was. The sweat on my palms were making the cards, themselves, turn soft in my hands. I have to focus. I winced a bit, but when I took a good long look at the card, I let out a small sigh. I couldn’t believe my luck.
An Ace! I have it!
I slapped my cards down immediately, revealing my holy pair that added twenty-one. The others followed, displaying a twenty, nineteen, eighteen, and lastly, a twenty from The Angler. I had won.
“Oy, did a demi-human girl just beat The damn Angler?”
“If my old eyes aren't deceiving me—then yes, that would be the case.”
“Who knew such a young animal gal had those kinds of skills? Wowsers.”
I couldn't remember the last time I was actually praised for something. Raze certainly didn't do it, while my family…was a whole different situation entirely. The heat in my chest blazed like a furnace, while my cheeks became flushed. It really did feel nice to be praised.
The Angler said nothing, but for once—his mouth was closed and he was looking straight at me. I stood up at my seat, waiting to see what he would do.
“Beginners luck, may—”
He held up his right flipper to me.
I guess he wants a handshake?
I took it in my sweaty palm and tried to keep my composure intact. I felt beyond embarrassed and had trouble holding my nervousness. Was it always this hot in here? My head feels so…warm…
It was hard to do so, however, because a soothing male voice had invaded my mind.
I didn't expect anyone to see through my game, but you did it. I didn't even notice it until it was too late. Well played, girl. You have my respect as a gambler and a player. You must be a long time player, no?
Thanks, but I have only played Blackjack a few times before. I prefer Gin Rummy and Jinzo’’s Gambit, but I love playing games in general. I spent a lot of time as a girl playing with myself… I chuckled internally to myself.
I see. Well, you have some talent, either way. I acknowledge you as someone that has defeated Boris Fisk.
T-thank you. It means a lot to be thanked by someone as classy as yourself.
Ah, this is just how my people are. Pay it no mind.
He let go of my hand and waddled over to Clars and gave him an open-mouthed nod.
“Alrighty then. I'll take her to the prizes, Mr. Angler.”
He walked over to me with a smile etched across his handsome face. He seemed truly glad for our success—my success.
“Impressive, my dear patron. You are the first to defeat Mr. Angler at his own game. Congratulations. Now, follow me and we will get you a prize.”
“The fuck you mean, 'prize'?”
I turned my head. It seemed like Raze had returned from his bathroom break.
“My dear patron over here has just defeated Mr. Angler. In accordance with our business’s promotional campaign, I will be taking her to get a prize. You may tag along as well.”
“T-tag…along? M-me…?” Raze’s eyebrows were having a stroke. He clearly didn't like that I was able to do something that he could not.
“Your telling me the fucking bat beat the guy who has never lost? I call bullshit.”
“Well it's true, sir, Mr. Angler even gave her his approval, himself. Now, we must be on our way..”
“Tch… Well whatever. It’s fine. It’s cool. Just take us to the fucking rewards...”
It certainly does not seem “cool”, but at least he’s keeping it together.
I let out a deep sigh. It really felt as if an invisible weight had been lifted from my chest. Now there was just the usual shoulder-aching and fatigue that I had been blessed with from my mothers generous genes.
The Angler’s real name is kinda funny, but I won’t say that out loud.
We then both followed Clarse outside of the door, Raze pushing me aside like a kid trying to get there first, while the bandit gang and even Boris waved to me as I left. What a great group of sketchy people and fish! Raze could learn a thing or two from them.
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