translated by Tianic, edited by MadSnail.
Note: Please click on the character name for their illustrations.
Characters in this chapter:
- Cohen Kheda: The main character.
- Fischer Summers: Cohen’s friend and a prince of the Swabia Empire.
- Iva Merlin: A down frustrated nobility in Winper City, a gambler.
- Jack: One of Cohen’s childhood friend and firm supporter.
[dropcap]I[/dropcap] drew four parallel black dots on a piece of paper and placed it downward in front of Fischer’s eyes.
“See anything different?” I asked, “Look carefully.”
Fischer gazed hardly till his sight became blurred, and still shook his head in confusion, “Are you fooling me around?”
“I’m fooling? Not in the mood right now!” I told him, “Adjust your eyes and make the four dots into three.”
“Hmmm… a bit hard…” Fischer wobbled his head, “Ah! I did it!”
“Keep trying, continue until you can naturally see three dots at a glance…” I said while rebuilding a set of cards.
It was a difficult job as I needed to measure the distance between every dot with a line and link the dots with random drawings to make them look like regular card back decors.
However, from Fischer’s point of view, which have undergone my particular training, the opponent’s card face will be revealed entirely at a glance! Indeed, it was a thing I often did in my previous life when I behaved like a gang rookie: Cheating.
What a shame, for within a city, a gang alpha should not just appear out of nowhere. Therefore my supervisor required me to spend at least some time at the lowest level. And cheating was a must-have skill for every rookie who wanted to get on above all others.
An average gangster would at most mark the back of the card with invisible liquid and use lens to see them: A way to get caught quickly and wind up in misery.
My favorite trick was to mark the back of the cards with three-dimensional patterns by the special potion and reflect the patterns with the help of the acrylic crystal of my watch. It was very reasonable to glance at the watch at times when playing poker. Many had expressed their doubts about my luck, but my trick was never blown because not all gangsters were as stylish as myself.
As of now, my primitive conditions have limited my method to the 3D signs. Sigh, I have never expected to be such a tragic boss: Personally getting involved in the job of the goon.
I rubbed my eyes after I finished with a set of cards. Then I looked toward my dear Mr. Summers. Fischer had become a cross-eyed.
I dressed in a brand new outfit and then set off from Winper Quay by carriage to the only high-class hotel in the city with a few menservants. The traveling noble’s primary party place was located in the hotel, the nightclub of the Winper noblemen: Rose Lounge.
The first step of the plot will be on show here tonight.
I entered the Rose Lounge and sat by the bar to drink a cocktail moments after dark.
I was waiting for my beloved Baron, Iva Merlin. According to Marfa’s intelligence, he will show up every night here to play poker.
By the board aside, Fischer who also dressed as a traveling aristocrat was talking with a few people, they looked to be having fun now. He showed up a day earlier than me and had won big time in one night. Fischer had a flower-like face, elegant manner, and speaking that had gained favor from many local nobles.
Waiters at the entrance politely opened the door, and a man in his forties entered the lounge. He who looked lively as he wore a bowler hat and walked holding a cane embroidered all over with gems. Jack who followed behind hinted me that this man was my prey tonight: Baron Iva Merlin.
“Good evening, Mr. Merlin!” A waiter said, “A cup of gin fizz as usual?”
“Sure.” Iva Merlin sat beside me due to the only empty seat was the one on my side. Planting our men in this bar was the first thing Amart did once he became the new boss.
“So many people here tonight!” Iva Merlin nodded at me, “Good evening, young man.”
“Indeed, sir!” I answered with a smile, “I’ve just arrived here. You can call me Severn.”
“Oh! Severn, I’m Iva Merlin!” He reached out his hand friendly, “What can I do for you?”
“I’m not familiar with the city. I think I might need a gentleman’s help!” I shook his hand, “May I have the honor to buy you a drink?”
“Sure you do. We, the elder generation are obliged to offer help to the young.”
I ordered a bottle of fine wine and moved to sit by a teapoy with Baron Merlin. As such, I went straight to the subject. My previous life’s rigorous training had to some extent altered my personality. I was able to make friends with anybody as long as I wanted.
I told Iva Merlin that I was a traveling nobleman’s candidate, and was on my way back to my country. I had decided to take my fortune in Winper City and if opportunity allowed, invest in some businesses because my family was suffering a loss. This was not weird at all because declining noble families were very common on this continent.
Our similar backgrounds had quickly closed the gap between us. Not a while later, Iva Merlin and I became friends that told each other everything.
“If you fancy investing, you can talk with my daughter. She has unique ideas on this.” Iva Merlin said, “I can set you two up.”
“It’s an honor to make acquaintance with your daughter!” I raised my glass, “I will visit your mansion with presents, and your daughter’s name is?”
“Dior Merlin!” Iva Merlin swallowed his vin from his goblet, “She’s my jewel!”
“A lovely name!” I refilled his glass, “One more drink?”
“Of course!” He smiled, “Severn, in your hometown, I mean, what activities are popular amongst your people?”
“Ah… in suitable seasons,” I acted as if I pondered for a moment, “We will usually celebrate by hunting.”
“I see. I personally like to hunt. I’ve got a few little hounds.” He lowered his voice and said, “You know, one of the ones of the muted hell hounds… I paid a fortune for them!”
“Admirable!” I nodded to show my understanding, “We’ll usually have garden parties every month, sometimes they were hosted by the royal family.”
“En, not bad!” Iva Merlin sipped his wine, “How about during the usual days?”
“Not quite many things to do.” I shook my head, “I would ride sometimes…”
“Young man, as a noble, you must have a habit or two to communicate with others!” He chuckled, “Of course, you are still young, one can take it slow.”
“Enlighten me.” I said in a modest tone.
“Like this.” He explained, “If you lack a proper hobby, the others will say that you are distant and solitary. That’s bad for your reputation.”
“But, Baron Merlin.” I said in hurry, “You know, I’m not solitary or distant per se…”
“I understand!” Iva Merlin reached his snuff and sneezed hard then became instantly alight, “Come, young man. Let me teach you a thing we the nobles are entitled to play.”
“And what is that?” I was puzzled, “My dear Mr. Baron.”
“Poker!” He stood up and led me to the other side of the bar, “Let’s play cards.”
On that side, cross-eyed Fischer and his new acquaintances were just finishing a game and chatting with laughter. Everybody looked happy.
“Gentlemen!” Iva Merlin approached the table and said to all the, “Let me present you the young gentleman, also my friend, Mr. Severn who has just arrived in Winper.”
“Good evening, gentlemen!” I cooperatively offered my hands to all, “I’m Severn.”
“What a chance, we’ve got a new friend here!” An elder gentleman at the same table stood up and said, “This is Mr. October who arrived yesterday.”
“Greetings, Mr. October!” I shook Fischer’s hand, “I’m Severn.”
“Evening, Mr. Severn!” It was Fischer’s and mine play tonight, “Please have a seat and let us drink together.”
A waiter came over and whispered to the nobleman at the table, then he immediately left. Thus, I, Fischer, Iva Merlin and that elder gentleman, the four of us joined the table. The old nobleman was not randomly selected. We have analyzed an enormous amount of intel to decide this man as the supporting role who was friendly with Iva Merlin at the face and secretly held grudges. So far, so good.
“I propose, for the two gentlemen to join us.” Iva Merlin raised his goblet, “Cheers!”
Four of us drank, smiled and schemed.
“Well, let’s play!” The old gentleman said, “Do you want to join us, Mr. Severn?”
“Absolutely!” I said, “Baron just urged me to learn such a hobby.”
The old gentleman smiled and introduced the rules, thoroughly. His verbose words made me want to kill myself.
“Basically,” He had finally finished the introduction, “Of course, if one of you are short on cash, the payable is allowed to the creditor within ten days. Besides, anything related to cheating, the player will be expelled from our social events, all of them. His life will be screwed.”
“I see, thank you.” I nodded, “I think I can obey the rules.”
“Good, young man.” The old nobleman said, “You look honest.”
“Am I?” I thought, “I don’t even know the answer.”
“Now! My friends.” Fischer shouted, “Let’s begin. To show our respect to the new friend, I suggest that we change our cards.”
A waiter came to bring us ten sets of new cards. Thus the game began.
“As usual, ten plays in a game.” Iva Merlin dealt the cards, “Gentlemen, pick up your cards.”
In today’s game, I was also a mere supporting character. My job was just to make acquaintance with Mr. Merlin and bring him to Fischer, then give him the encouragement to play on at the time when he decided to quit. After all, there were only so many moments a man truly become crazy. The main character was Fischer whose alias was October. He and the old nobleman will work together against Mr. Merlin.
And Fischer will win everything from the old gentleman afterward.
Gambling was invented since the dawn of humanity. It had been a favorite for speculators and nightmare for the dumb and honest.
As a green hand, I obeyed my beginner’s obligation: acted excited when with good cards and gloomy when with bad. My messy style of poker had lost me thirty-eight gold in the first game. The others were with wins and losses.
“Don’t take it so hard.” Iva Merlin told me, “Luck will turn back to you.”
“Yes, young man.” The old noble took his wine glass, “You shout learn from Mr. Baron. I’ve seen him losing, which he acted quite gracefully.”
“Was I?” Iva Merlin seemed a bit annoyed, “That thing is not funny!”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you laugh.” The old gentleman who just won some money said, “I’m speaking metaphorically to the boys.”
“You!” Iva Merlin was on the edge of bursting out.
“Gentlemen, let’s have a round of drinks!” Fischer interrupted in time, “How about something stronger?”
Iva Merlin and the old gentleman seemed not in the mood to argue on and agreed. I surely will not object. Everything that will happen tonight was all part of the plan. And I have added a little something-something to the alcohol.
Soon enough, the second game finished. I lost even more, and Mr. Merlin was not winning. The old nobleman was joyful by looking at his big pile of chips and face red.
“Mr. Baron, a word please.” I told Iva Merlin, “Shall we go to the bar?”
“Don’t worry.” Iva Merlin walked to the bar and told me, “We’ll win the money back, I promise.”
He looked pitifully at me for losing the money.
“Yes, sir.” I said, “I’m certain you will. I’m more worried about me, you know, I have for many times interrupted your play. I’m just a newbie, you see, of no help here…”
“Don’t bother.” He said, “Don’t worry, we’ve got time.”
“But I can’t, please forgive me… I think.” I took out my money bag, “Here’s a hundred gold, and I’m begging you! Please play for me! I cannot handle such stressful environment!”
“I see… okay!” He took my money, “I will tell you the outcome later.”
“Then I’ll be in my hotel for your good news.”
I returned to the table and excused myself by saying that I had to write a letter to my father. Afterward I invited everybody to drop by sometime to my hotel if possible.
The rest was on Fischer. I noticed him pulling out the cross-eyed trick when I was at the door.