A dark bar stirred; hidden under the hard concrete of the city streets, it concealed those who wished to remain unseen. The large single room of Saint James bar reeked of smoke and spilled liquor. Its floor is covered in destroyed furniture from the daily fights over power. In the room’s heart, a man sits on an unspoiled table, sipping a fine wine as another fight rages around him. In his hand, he read the news from a compact transportable media device, its faint glow illuminating his face in the dank room. A newcomer of the bar swung a stool leg at the man, smashing it across his back. The splintering wood sailed into the air as his device plummeted to the ground. The man leaned forward over his knees and rectified his position as the newcomer reached for another weapon. Eyes glowing red, the man stood facing the newcomer, who quickly dropped his weapon and fell to his knees.
“Who here knows my name?” Said the man with eyes glowing red.
Although the whole bar knew the bartender was the only one to speak up.
“You are Fetayne, the finest Happy brewer this world ever saw. The second most influential drug lord in the whole of Hollow. Owner of the Devil’s Brewery and known as the demon brewer. Among many less substantial titles.”
“That is me. But who are you?” Fetayne turned to a short, pudgy man who was wielding a bar stool in each hand.
“Sier, you know the names of all in this game. Who lays before me?” His voice, amplified by his magics, resonated through the whole room.
“That is Scraw; he opened a shop down by the dead slums. Sells happy and forget, at about a 12% purity.”
“You forgot my title; I am the death whisperer.” Said Scraw as he stood himself up on a nearby table.
“Who here knows of this title?” Fetayne circled the room, waiting for an answer.
Scraw locked eyes with a group of imps sat drinking in the corner.
“Oh, yea. We have.”
Everyone turned to see the imps sat in the corner of the room playing cards. Fetaynes eyes returned to normal, and he walked over to the short table of Imps.
“When and where?”
“When he came in, he paid us two Nyctons each to say we knew that name.”
A snicker peaked from around the bar.
“But he did not pay us to not say he told us.” The imps started an infectious laughter that set the whole bar in an uproar. Fetayne turned to Scraw, his eyes erupting in a furious red which silenced the bar.
“This is not how it works. You do not decide your title, nor do you get to utter it. They are words that only those who learn you get to use. It is an honor to be known by a title; you do not get to buy it; you earn it through blood and fire.”
Fetayne rose from the ground as his voice deepened; arcs of red energy flared from his body as he marched forward. His skin started to peel from his arms, revealing black, scaled, and leathery skin. Scraw tried running, but no one would let him out; no matter who he hit, to get out of the way, another body would step in the way. Fetaynes voice changed into a snarl, he spoke again.
“We have these fights to determine power among ranks; if you hit someone, you are stating that you want to challenge their rank. You have hit the second most powerful drug lord in the game, so stop running and let’s fight.”
Fetayne lunged at Scraw, scratching at his skin. His claws cleaved chunks of flesh from the bone.
“Fuck this.” Scraw pulled his revolver and aimed it at Fetayne. Before he could blink, Fetayne had already crushed the gun along with his hand. Scraw screamed as he felt his bones snap through his skin.
“Your nothing death whisperer, nothing but an ingredient.”
Fetayne clenched his fist and lowered it to his side. The crowd started to chant.
“Demon strike, demon strike, demon strike.”
Fetayne screamed, red energy spiraling with accelerated speed around his fist. Scraw’s eyes peeled open wide with overwhelming horror, his pants heated by a liquid shame. Unblinking, he watched in what seemed to be slow motion as a black-scaled fist tore through the air howling toward his head. Those around watched as the head of Scraw disappeared before their eyes, a small portion being sprayed on those who were unfortunate enough to be standing too close.
“Imps, I will pay you twenty Nyctons each if you shift him to my brewery. I will even throw in a pass card for a single pint between you.”
The imps threw down their cards and hurried over to the headless corpse, and started dragging it toward a door marked as The Devil’s Brewery.
“Next time, start with the pint; that is the good stuff.”
Fetayne passed down a bag of notes, along with a small card for them.
“Hurry, it needs to be fresh.”
Those in the bar started to clean it up as Fetayne returned his arms to normal and retook his seat. He picked up his device and continued browsing the news, tapping on his glass with his ring. The bartender heard his call and walked over with another bottle of wine.
“Was Scraw’s setup a known location?”
The bartender looked over at Sier for answers, the desperation in his eyes bringing him over.
“What was the question, Fetayne?” The bartender filled the glass and quickly moved out of the way.
“Scraw’s setup, where is it?”
“It is parked under his sell point; he kept it hidden in the drainage below, using the constant supply of water as his cooling agent. Nothing more than a boil-over operation.”
Fetayne sighed, scrolling through the news articles on his device.
“I should have guessed he was a first step. Donate his supplies to those Imps, let them do as they do. No great loss.”
Sier made a small note in his notebook. “Anything else?”
Fetayne smiled. “I give them the title of Death Whispers. I hope his ghost is watching just so he knows this shame.”
“Excellent; I will make sure my runners get the imps to their new brewery.”
Sier finished writing in his book as he walked off behind the bar.
“Since our fight was ruined, let’s get to business.”
The bartender brought the house lights up, illuminating the bruised knuckles and battered faces.
“Are we supposed to start without the big man?”
“He never shows; he is far beyond what occurs here.”
“And Fetayne isn’t?”
Fetayne cleared his throat as all the other brewers were setting up a table for their meeting.
“No, I am not. What a lot of you don’t understand is that the big man is far beyond any of us. I may be second for power, but I am never going to achieve what he has.”
The men and women all sat around the surviving tables.
“Why can’t you get to where he is? What is stopping you?”
Fetayne shook his head as he tossed his device on the table before him.
“Because I am not as mad as the big man; he has earnt his titles.”
Those who could leanleaned over to see the screen of his little device. A news article with a bold title.
The mad king of the underworld burns down half a town for his birthday.
The article was supplied with a video that the others mirrored onto a projector in the room.
Patrons of the town fled into the nearby fields; those brave enough were grabbing pales of water to calm the flames. Down the center road strolled a man in a fine suit, laughing as he brought forth flames from his walking stick. The camera zoomed in on his face, his eyes were closed, and his grin stretched high.
“Happy fucking birthday to me.”
He spun extravagantly before a fiery explosion from his walking stick sent him flying into the air. The shock wave shook the camera to the ground, its angle following the madman as he flew into the night’s air. The video ended, and the room was silent. Fetayne took back his device and stood up.
“I have work to do, just know those with power are there for a reason. The more power someone has, the crazier they are, and that madman owns half this continent.”
Fetayne walked to the door leading to his brewery before making one last remark.
“Be afraid of that man; he has earnt all of his titles.”