Malus: World of War I
Down In New Orleans
Lord Barkis Bittern VS Lord Facilier
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NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA, 3:52 PM
Lord Barkis Bittern smiled sinisterly. He knew that this was his perfect opportunity to begin his rise up the criminal pyramid. The city of New Orleans had become a major center for criminal activity, all run by the newly ascended crime lord known only as Facilier. Very little was known about this crime lord, except that he had started out as a poor man in the city. And suddenly, one day, the wealthiest men in town, including "Big Daddy" Lebouff, and his daughter, Charlotte, had disappeared. There was even a rumor that the entire population of the town had disappeared, dragged to some kind of abyss. Barkis believed none of this, nor was he concerned with how Facilier had risen to power. However, he was confident that very soon, the city would be his; for as a party with all of the crime lords in the country roared throughout Facilier's mansion, he saw this as the perfect opportunity to take Facilier's mysterious, but powerful empire, for himself. According to plan.
Lord Barkis Bittern, standing up completely straight, his arms folded behind his back, walked to the mansion where Facilier resided. He prepared to knock on the door, but it opened instead. He walked in. The mansion was exceptionally well decorated, even more well decorated than Barkis' own, much to his chagrin. There were people standing around everywhere. Lord Barkis saw David Xanatos, Sebastian Shaw, Mok Swagger, Frank d'Mico, Oswald "The Penguin" Cobblepot, Carmine "The Roman" Falcone, and many others in the powerful criminal underworld. They all walked around, drinking from glasses served by half-dressed waitresses, talked, and danced to "Down in New Orleans", which roared throughout the mansion. However, Barkis took no time to join the party, for he had arranged a private meeting with Lord Facilier.
Barkis began to ascend a flight of stairs, where he came several make-out sessions between waitresses and crime lords. At the top of the stairs, waiting for him was a beautiful blonde woman dressed in skimpy white clothing.
"Lord Barkis. Welcome to the party," she spoke seductively.
"Madam," said Lord Barkis, keeping a level head despite the beauty he was standing in front of.
"Holli Would, Lord Facilier's associate."
"Indeed. He truly chooses some exquisite friends."
Holli Would let out an exaggerated giggle. Lord Barkis then continued,
"Where may I find Lord Facilier?"
Holli Would extended her hand behind her to direct Lord Barkis towards a door. She led the way, him following her to the west wing. The mansion was so large that the music could barely be heard anymore. He continued to follow Holli until they arrived in a well decorated room with a fireplace set in the left corner.
"Lord Facilier will be with us shortly."
Lord Barkis saw a pair of leather chairs with a black table in between them. However, as he stepped forward to take a seat, he began noticing something strangely unnatural about the fire. However, as he was observing it, the doors to the chamber opened once again, and in walked Facilier, twirling his cane in his right hand and holding a glass of wine in his left. He stood up straight, a cheerful smile on his face, and was whistling "Friends on the Other Side". He stopped in the middle of the room and put the bottom of his cane on the ground. He then took a bow towards Lord Barkis,
"Lord Barkis Bittern," he said enthusiastically. "To what do I owe thee honor?"
Lord Barkis began to stand up, proud and confident in the face of this man who he was sure was no threat to him.
"Lord Facilier. You are truly honored to have me in your mansion." Barkis' voice dripped with smugness. "Shall we take a seat?"
Lord Facilier continued to smile charismatically, "Don't mind if I do."
The two then took their seats in two exquisite chairs across from each other. The two smiled towards each other; Facilier's smile was charismatic and enthusiastic, Barkis' was smug and arrogant. Facilier then turned his head toward Holli Would,
"Make sure our guests are well acquainted."
Holli Would left without a word, stroking the back of Facilier's neck on the way out.
Lord Facilier then placed a second glass of wine on the table in front of Barkis. Barkis had not seen Facilier carrying a second glass before, but he digressed and began to speak,
"I must commend you on how well you decorate your wealth. You truly do have a powerful stature in this underworld. May I ask, how did you achieve it?"
Facilier took a sip out of his glass, "I've made friends with the right sorts of people. So, what can I do for you?"
Barkis then stood and walked towards the fire place.
"Once again, I must state how impressed I am by this empire. You have so few people at your command, yet you have gained so much respect amongst the other lords in this country. But I must say, a poor man from New Orleans at the helm of an empire seems a bit
amusing to me."
Even when realizing where Barkis was going with this conversation, Facilier continued to smile, "Go on."
Barkis then turned to face Facilier, "There has been talk of a war about to start. A war that people like us can profit off of. However, only one man in this room was born into his wealth. And what's more, my good friend, Judge Claude Frollo, has been expanding his crusades into America. Already, he has men here working for him. I don't expect that your reputation, as well as your Gypsy ancestry, will sit well with him. In fact, there might even be a noose with your name on it."
Lord Facilier picked up his glass again to take another sip out of it, "Sounds like a marketable piece of rope."
Lord Barkis then picked up a red book placed on a shelf over the fire place, "I get along well with Frollo, and his authority protects me. There's nothing you can do to harm me, and once I tell him what I've seen here, he's not going to be happy."
He then tossed the book into the fire, "One can only imagine how painful Frollo's punishments must be. And just imagine how many crime lords would be willing to testify against you in court. So, the resolution is simple."
Barkis then walked back to the chair and took a seat once again, "Sign your empire over to me. I'll throw in a good word for you. I'll defend you with my well established might, and you can crawl safely back down that hole which you came from." He then picked up his glass and took a long, triumphant sip.
However, Facilier was still smiling. "You go into great detail. You really thought this deal over, didn't you?"
Lord Barkis then put his glass back down on the table. "So, do we have a deal?"
Facilier took another sip from his own glass, his face still lined with cheer, "No."
Lord Barkis laughed, "You're willing to face Frollo's noose rather then come under a mighty lord's wing of protection?"
Lord Facilier then leaned in, "Since I was so rude as to forget, I offer my deepest condolences torward your wife's death. Some men on my payroll were there at the funeral. And they sent me back some pictures. She looked truly peaceful, but I don't know many women who died of alcohol poisoning to carry bruises around their neck."
Lord Barkis' smile was then replaced with a look of shock.
Lord Facilier then leaned back into his chair. "And I wonder whose fingerprints the police will find if they take a closer look at her body. Who knows, there might be a noose with your name on it as well."
As Facilier reached towards his wine glass, taking his own triumphant, yet short, sip, Barkis looking away from the man in rage.
Facilier then put his nearly empty glass down, "So, how does the party look to you?"
Barkis then smashed his glass down on the carpet underneath the table, storming up from his chair, producing a musket pistol from his jacket pocket.
"Like I said before, I have close ties with Frollo. There are people here who will be willing to testify against you in court. I can offer them far more than you ever did if I possessed your empire. So you sign over your empire, or I will pull this trigger and spill your brains across that chair you're sitting in!"
Facilier, still wearing his smile, simply reached towards his glass and took another sip.
Barkis pulled back the barrel on the pistol, "You're a madman! I'll kill you right here, you chump! Now get a pen and give me this city!"
Facilier sighed, "Just get this over with."
Barkis began to sweat, he was so frustrated. "Give me your empire you damn fool!"
Facilier lifted his cane one more time and pointed the tip towards Lord Barkis, "This deal's closed. So you might as well fire that pistol when you're ready."
Barkis laughed, placing false amusement before his broken pride.
"Fine." Barkis pulled the trigger in rage and the musket ball fired. However, Facilier still sat there, unscathed, still smiling, and taking yet another sip out of his glass.
Barkis was just about to double check his musket to see if it was loaded, but just as he moved to unload it, the musket ball returned and struck him in the shoulder. As he dropped the musket and howled in pain, he felt something powerful kick him. He went flying towards a bookcase, novels dropping everywhere around him as he crashed back down on the floor.
Facilier looked on towards the fire. Taking another sip from his glass, Facilier rose and walked towards the injured Barkis.
"Frollo will hear about this!" shouted a desperately defiant Barkis.
"I wouldn't say that. So, you wanna know how I got so rich?"
Barkis prepared to rise back onto his feet, until Facilier snapped his fingers. Suddenly, Facilier's shadow moved on its own, crossing its arms and leaning against the wall. Then, several other shadows shaped like demonic creatures rose out of the eerie looking fire. Barkis backed against the nearly empty bookcase with terror sealed in his heart.
Facilier looked around at the shadow demons he had summoned, "Beautiful, aren't they? A little parting gift from some old friends of mine. All it takes are these guys, some connections to the mob, a city with enough room to make a business, and I've got a working empire."
He then turned to face his shadows. Barkis tried to move to attack Facilier from behind, but he felt himself restrained by two of the shadows. He struggled against his captors, but his arms wouldn't so much as budge against their hold.
Facilier continued to twirl his staff enthusiastically, "Well boys, we've got plenty of cash for our next move, and a soul for the big man."
Barkis then raised his head, fear in his eyes, "Soul? What soul?!"
Facilier turned back to face Lord Barkis. He reached into his own jacket pocket and pulled out a gemstone. He crouched down and placed it close to Barkis' terrified face.
Barkis continued to struggle futilely, "Frollo will have your head for this!"
Facilier merely grinned more sinisterly in response, "I look forward to him coming for it."
The gemstone began to glow. Within a deeper part of the gemstone, Barkis could feel a dark and powerful presence, and the last thing he saw was a glowing pair of red eyes, wreathed in shadow, before his soul was dragged, screaming, into an abyss where his screams would echo on for eternity, along with the screams of many other damned souls.
Facilier stood up, looking down at the soulless husk that was Barkis. His cheerful smile now dropped hints of sadism. He then looked down at his wine glass to see that it was empty. Then, Facilier's shadow stood next to him, holding a full glass of wine towards its master. Facilier took the glass, amicably raised it towards his shadow and the rest of the demons, before taking a sip out of it.
"Put him with the others," said Facilier, pointing to the soulless husk that lay behind him.
Facilier then walked towards the door, twirling his cane, and continued to whistle "Friends on the Other Side".
IN THE BALLROOM
David Xanatos took a sip of wine out of his glass. Owen stood next to him. He had been talking to several of the crime lords, trying to discern what their attitudes toward each other were and try and discern how they were running their businesses. It would be valuable to know if a crime war indeed erupted.
"You can head back to the hotel if you'd like. I'll be fine," he said to Owen with a smile on his face. He was truly enjoying himself.
"Very well, Mr. Xanatos," he turned and left without another word, passing a subtle look at some of the exotic waitresses as he passed by. As he left, the Penguin pushed past a couple of waitresses toward the door, arriving there before Owen did. He was accompanied by two bodyguards and had a gruff, angry look on his face.
Suddenly, Xanatos was approached by two familiar faces, Sebastian Shaw and Mok Swagger.
"Sebastian. Mok. How are you two?"
"Excellent," said Mok.
"How goes Manhattan?" asked Shaw.
"So far, so good. Your club still intact?"
"I'm sending out some shares. Decided to make it public. Mok here is helping me a lot with that."
Mok chuckled, "A little bit of music always sells well with a club."
Xanatos took a sip out of his wine, a smile still on his face.
"It's great to see you two again, but do you know where Frank d'Amico is?"
Mok pointed behind him to show Frank talking with Carmine Falcone. Xanatos politely walked past the two, but not before noticing the two give him some suspicious looks. He reached d'Amico just as Carmine left to talk to one of the waitresses.
"Good afternoon, Frank."
d'Amico looked at Xanatos with a bit of disgust in his eyes, taking a threatening sip out of his wine glass.
"Xanatos," he said sternly.
"Didn't mean to bother you. Just wondering how business is going."
"Piss off," he said, seeming to be trying to hold his head up a bit. He was evidently drunk.
David frowned a bit, but tried to keep up his cheerful appearance.
"So sorry about you partner, by the way. He was truly a man of determination an-"
d'Amico then walked forward,
"Fuck off, David!" he shouted, wobbling a bit. His yell attracted some attention as Xanatos backed up a bit. Through the crowd, Facilier pushed himself in between the two.
"Gentlemen, let's be more amicable, shall we?" he said with a relaxed smile on his face. He then snapped his fingers toward a waitress, who walked over to him.
"See that Frank here is comfortable, Holli," he said.
Holli Would then placed her arm around Frank, "Right this way sir."
Holli walked Frank away, but the latter kept his eyes on Xanatos,
"You watch your back, asshole!" he shouted one more time.
Lord Facilier laughed, "Back to the party! Everything's alright!"
The music resumed, the people kept talking and drinking, and everything was back to normal in seconds.
Xanatos held out his glass to Facilier,
"Your ways with people never cease to impress me, Lord Facilier," he said with a chuckle.
Lord Facilier held out his own glass, tapping it against Xanatos'.
"Welcome to New Orleans, Mr. Xanatos," he said. "You'll have to lay off the sour souls around here."
"So I can tell. How's business?"
"Earning me everything, and more. I've recently entered some business deals that will expand my empire beyond the United States," he said as his smile and his deep, suave voice started to give away signs of excitement and power hunger.
Xanatos' smile remained, but he continued trying to hound Facilier for information on his empire that he might have.
"It sounds like quite the adventure, but a word of advice. In times like these, you don't want to be taking risks. I suggest that you worry about your enemies here before expanding your borders. And don't just make deals with anyone."
Lord Facilier chuckled, "Your concern's touching. But when I'm done overseas, all the loose ends will be easy to tie up."
Xanatos took a sip out of his wine, "What kind of business venture are you speaking of, exactly?"
Facilier laughed a bit louder, his laugh almost sounding sinister,
"Astronomical, my friend! I'll keep you out of the danger zone though, old friend!"
"You're acting a bit mysterious here. You're like a gargoyle, I can't read you."
Facilier took a sip out of his wine, chuckling again,
"You know I love our conversations, Mr. Xanatos, but I'm the host. So if you'd excuse me."
Facilier then pulled a one-hundred dollar bill out of his jacket pocket and handed it to Xanatos, before walking off into the crowd. Xanatos took a sip out of his wine, looking around. He couldn't help but notice some of the crime lords shooting malevolent looks at him. Xanatos then put his wine glass on a trey that was being walked by by a waitress. He then grabbed his cell phone from his wallet and called Owen.
"Mr. Xanatos," Owen said on the other line.
"Get the limo ready Owen. Come get me at about six. And bring a gun along just in case. With all these criminals around here, who knows who we can trust?"