His midnight-blue suit was sharp and shoes were polished. He flipped his lucky coin. Heads. He felt good. To the casino it was.
He walked outside into the winter air, blowing rings resembling sleeping dragons. The higher they floated, the more they grew.
The car pulled up. Tonight he was using the Silver Phantom, his favourite, his driver’s favourite. He won it last year in a game of cards. His driver was dumbstruck when he’d handed him the keys. Ricard, the previous owner, still wasn’t happy about it. Especially as he’d rigged the game and still lost.
The Phantom pulled up to the casino. This wasn’t what he expected tonight. He just wanted to play some dice and speak to some interesting people. Out of the darkened windows Ricard and his crew were standing outside, guns visible and a hungry look in their eyes. He knew the guns were for show only. Ricard and his crew didn’t need weapons to kill. He flipped his lucky coin and caught it on the back of his hand. After three taps it sunk into his skin. He opened a compartment in the armrest, pulled out a silver sabre and silver rope, got out and slapped the car to leave.
He breathed three rings out into the cold air touching each one. They floated higher, changing colour in the reflection of the casino lights, then disappeared. He smiled and said “I don’t want any trouble. Why don’t you and your pals just put your weapons down. It’s the only way you’re gonna live”.
“You against us? You don’t even know what we’re capable of”. Ricard replied, baring his teeth and long reptilian tongue.
“Oh I know exactly what you and your followers are. A bunch of cheats and sore losers. Look, let’s be as civilised as possible. I’ll count to three. After that I’ll have to draw my sword. I really don’t want to ruin my suit and shoes. One,” he said.
“Brave words for one man against twelve of us.” Ricard loved an audience.
“Do you want to call more men, I still fancy my odds. Let’s make it interesting? You can have a hundred if you want, that’s two by the way,” he said matter-of-factly.
“Who the fuck do you think you are. Nobody threatens me. I’m gonna have fun killing you. Maybe I won’t kill you, maybe I’ll keep you as a slave.” Ricard snarled, he hated losing face.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you. That’s three!
He drew the sabre and whispered something in a dead language. Two of Ricard’s guys rushed him, teeth bared, fists clenched, salivating. He sliced through the air. Their bodies were no more, disintegrating immediately into the ether. He took his handkerchief from the suit and wiped the sabre.
Five more stood on the casino steps in a crescent formation. They leapt. The rope in his right hand slackened. He raised his arms, cutting the air like a circular saw, every circle expanding. He watched four of the five explode when the moonlit-silver rope made contact. He smiled to himself. Ricard was shaking with rage.
The earth gave a tiny ripple as the fifth of the pack landed behind him. He let him approach. Clenching his fist, he pirouetted and threw a right hand, catching Ricard’s footsoldier clean on the jaw so he dropped to his knees. Lightning fast, he followed through with the sabre again and took his head clean off. There was no blood because they were already dead. His suit was still sharp but there was a scuff on his shoe. He cleaned it with the handkerchief in the breast pocket.
“Ricard. Let’s stop this. You can leave. Take your minions with you.” he said calmly. A few people were watching them now. He gave them all a wave and a smile. They turned away walking inside the casino. Ricard was mouthing instructions to the last of his men and stepped forward. In an instant they vanished from the steps and he found himself surrounded.
“Your luck’s eventually run out. Who even are you? I could make good use of your skills. Join us. I’ll give you eternal life. I’ll give you this casino. I’ll give you all my casinos.” Ricard still seemed confident. Replying evenly to Ricard and the last of the group around him, he said,“You must be scared or stupid or both to be trying to bargain with me.”
“Not scared, just intrigued. I think I’ll enslave you after all”, Ricard smirked.
Just as Ricard had said that, there was a change in the air. Warmth just above them. Five dragons the colour of the night, the colour of dazzling neon lights, the colour of the moon, swooped down like mist on the wind grabbing Ricard’s gang, tearing them apart, then engulfing them in flames.
He watched Ricard’s face. Saw his mind racing. He felt the back of his palm again. Pulled out the coin and flipped it. Heads. A little smile. He saw Ricard’s expression change to panic, because he didn’t understand what it meant. He knelt down placing the sabre and rope in front of him. Ricard flinched and anger flashed behind his dark eyes.
“How long have you been around Ricard?” he asked.
“Long enough to know I’m not going to die. You’re too weak to take me on” Ricard replied.
“But you’re already dead aren’t you. Why don’t you show your real form Ricard? It’ll probably make you a little stronger, won’t it?” he asked.
Ricard smirked. “I’m dead, yes. As for my form, this is my real form now. I made a deal a long time ago to make sure I’d always be the strongest I can be in this form.”
“So you’re at full strength? Tell me then how long you’ve been wandering the world, building wealth? Were you a greedy man when you were alive Ricard? Is Ricard your real name?
“Yes, I’m at full strength, don’t you believe me? My name, I forgot my birth name a couple of centuries ago. I’ve been here since the English came to the Americas. I sailed on the first ship. My ship. They were all my ships back then. All the people belonged to me as well. Then freedom happened.” Ricard spat the words out.
“The thing you made the deal with, what did it take in return? For you to keep your wealth, make more and make sure people would always belong to you or serve you?” he asked. “You’re very knowledgeable about my history. I suspect you’re the same as me. A creature of darkness, yes? All I had to do was kill a pagan on each full moon. In pitch black. It was easy.” Ricard was arrogant again. When Ricard had tried to cheat him out of the Phantom, he had the same tone.
“You will pay for your crimes.” His voice was getting louder.
“Not today I won’t.” Ricard hissed then vanished, appearing for a split second, dust rising from the earth, a couple of specks hitting his dinner jacket. He’d stolen the sabre. A scream echoed through the wind and Ricard reappeared, on his knees, his hands on fire.
He picked up his rope, it was shifting between glimmer and shine. He straightened it through his palms, transforming it into a spear. He struck it in the ground then removed his jacket and waistcoat and hung them on it. He did the same with his shirt and tie. His eyes were fixed on Ricard. He put his hands in his pockets. “Ricard, it’s time”. The wind carried his whisper, extinguishing the flames that were once Ricard’s hands.
Pulling out the coin, he flipped it and let it fall to the floor. A great light enveloped them. Horns grew from his head and down his back ending at his waist. Black and white wings expanded from his body. Finally, his hair grew down his back, a shimmering haunting silver. He held a giant glowing longsword. “Ricard, you asked if I was a creature of the dark? I am so much more. The darkness cannot truly exist because of me. Some know me as Tsukoyomi, others as Khonsu or even Máni. I am the Moon God. STAND UP AND FACE ME!” His voice boomed inside the light, it was everywhere at once, in every language, known and forgotten. He watched Ricard stand up, his eyes were hollow with jet black smoke snaking through each one. He spoke the dead language again. “For the slaves, for your greed, for the suffering you have caused, and for all those you have cheated of life, I JUDGE YOU UNWORTHY OF EXISTING ANYWHERE UNDER THE SEVEN SACRED SKIES AGAIN. With one quick nudge of his arm he, the sword sliced through Rickard top to bottom and he was gone. A black cloud expanded trying to escape the light from the sword’s blade. Khonsu released a sliver of silver and sapphire lightning. It covered the smoke, swallowing it up. Nothing remained of Ricard, but Khonsu wondered which God provoked him.
Returning to human form, he flipped the coin again. Heads. He walked into the casino. He wanted to listen to some stories and throw a couple of dice.
Thanks for taking the time to read this short story. I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know in the comments. Khonsu will return…
Take It Easy