Chapter 4: Losing Control
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He concealed his smile as best he could. Since she didn't take another shot at him, it seemed like he had the upper hand. Casually, he tossed the pennies into the air, catching them with practiced ease. He had no desire to push her patience any further.
"Excellent. To be honest, it's quite simple. It requires zero effort on your part. Your amiable companions welcomed me warmly, so I shall do the same. A simple bet that I can knock out both of them... with just one finger. If I can't, the coins yours."
Laughter erupted from her guards as soon as those words left his mouth.
Regina, however, didn't share in the mirth.
Even if his past may raise question about his abilty to accurately judge people, his time on the seas had endowed him with the ability to read people's thoughts in certain situations. She likely questioned how he could make such an audacious claim. Her guards, on the other hand, probably believed they were about to make an easy profit.
To her, this wager seemed riskier than a drunk's gamble in the bar.
"If you fail, I get twice the coins. You're certainly brimming with confidence. Tell me, if you had so much money, why didn't you use it to get more medicine for your mother?" she inquired.
"Save what you can for later. If I'm going to die soon, there's no use in holding onto it," he replied, offering a somewhat truthful explanation.
Regina remained skeptical but continued, "And if I lose?"
Without hesitation, he pointed at her and replied, "Since I'll undoubtedly lose my hard earned money if I fail and freedom if I can't pay you, let the fate judge us fairly! You'll owe me a favor to work on a project for me."
The guards fell silent within seconds. It was common knowledge that many men coveted the position of being a partner with the Underworld's proprietor, but as far as Nolan knew, none had succeeded. She only did business deal. Nothing more, and nothing less. He wasn't foolish enough to believe she'd never had a partner, but who could say? What's dead stays dead, after all. He would soon find out.
Regina burst into laughter upon hearing his proposal, clutching her stomach.
"That's an interesting proposition, Nolan. A young brat, trying to work with me. Alright, I agree, but be prepared, because I can think of worse fates than death for you," Regina warned, and he nodded in agreement.
He stood at one end of the pier, while Bruiser and the guard waited at the opposite end.
"This is your last free decision. You can start whenever you be ready, but make it fast, you aren't worth more than a few hours time from me," Regina declared.
"Well then dont mind me if I'm a little disrespectful," he replied with a grin.
Raising his right index finger and extending his arm, he addressed the group, "Keep yourselves safe, gentlemen. If you don't, you might not make it out alive." Their laughter followed, but he paid it no mind. If he could, he would have entertained wild thoughts of subjugating Regina Thornheart, the proprietor of Dead Tales, and reveling in his plans for vengeance while sipping wine from beneath her skirts. But that wasn't his style.
A tingling sensation of power coursed through the tips of his fingers. The crashing waves grew more intense, each one seeming worse than the last.
As soon as the seas rise, the anticipated moment of anxiety arrived. The confidence and grins on the guard face began to fade as the wooden planks of the pier groaned and started gave way under the weight of his power. Strands of saltwater emerged from the ocean, converging at the tip of his finger. Lightning streaked across the sky, and thunder rumbled overhead. The sun appeared to hide behind the clouds in response to his unleashed might.
Terrified, the guard began to back away, but the Bruiser seems to ready himself for a strike. Unlucky for them, it was too late. He had amassed enough water to make his point. "Feel the power of The Sovereign," he declared with the snap of his finger.
A torrent of water surged from his fingertips, leaving the guards too stunned to react. Even Regina appeared taken aback by the display before her. She may have seen magic and skills more powerful than this, but it was largly displayed by old magic users or the rare few who had been granted the system attention.
His intention was to rattle her, to show his power so she can be more favourable to work with him but he felt that these poor underlings already had enough on their plates.
He directed five separate streams at the Bruiser, while only one at the guard. With practiced skill honed over many years of using this power, he incapacitated the guard first. If he was lucky, the impact would only render himm unconscious.
The Bruiser took some time with his fast movement skills, but the four stream were easily distract him while the fifth strike from the side, with enough force to throw a normal man meters. The strike should only have dazed him, but to make it more stunning, i sneakily stopped one the blood vessel supply his brain.
The man landed heavily at Regina's feet, and the sky remained clouded, punctuated by the rumble of thunder and the dazzling display of lightning. He exhaled a breath through pursed lips, creating an effect akin to smoke emanating from the tip of his finger, resembling a fired pistol. Then, he glanced toward the astonished leader of the underworld.
How many men had spent countless nights dreaming of one day seizing control of one of the most dangerous and illicit enterprises on this side of the sea? But before he could savor his apparent victory, his vision dimmed, and the world swayed beneath him as he fall over.
Regina's heart raced as she observed the uncouncious Nolan.
"Well shit. I didn't realize you will be granted such powers brat." she said as she kicked his feet to make sure that he is asleep.
Her activated defense ring hummed with latent energy, its protective barrier shimmering around her like an ethereal cocoon which only she, or someone more powerful can see.
But even as she remained vigilant, she couldn't help but feel a pang of uncertainty. She had agreed to this partnership, against her better judgment, and now she faced an enigma that defied explanation. This man had power beyond logic that she had encountered only once. Power that even her artifact failed to realise.
Trust was a scarce currency in the underworld, and she had learned the hard way that even those who you knew can change when they got powers. She chose to prioritize her own security over the promises made in the heat of the moment. In the criminal world, it was often a game of survival, and she intended to win.
"Let's see what secrets you be hiding..."