LeBlanc’s was full of rough looking patrons, which was quite usual for the establishment. They played pool, drank large glasses filled with foaming dark beer and made crude jokes that most mothers would have gasped to hear. The interconnected rooms of the bar were dark except for bright fluorescent blue and red lights which cast their glow over everything and everyone. The cacophony of sounds in the bar were those of glasses clinking, pool balls crashing against one and another and into corner pockets and loud rumbling laughter which burst forth from the patrons like a frenzied horn section of an orchestra.
This all stopped the moment the door swung open, and he walked in. Walter Kemp was an imposing figure with his cold eyes and perfectly trimmed gray goatee. He wore a long black coat over an expensive suit. In his right hand, he held a stark black cane, and on his left hand was a large silver ring with a jet black onyx stone nested inside it. Every single person in the bar stopped to look at the man who had, at one point or another, personally hired each and everyone of them. Their job? To wait until the day he came calling for one of them to complete a job which required an extra bit of muscle or a generally negative attitude towards the law. But these requests were usually handled through an anonymous text or quiet phone call. Not the man himself showing up to LeBlanc’s unannounced.
“Mr. Kemp,” said the bartender, a heavy set man with a thick mustache. “We didn’t know you were coming.”
“Well, given that I own the place, I imagine my presence should always be expected.”
The bartender gulped down his nerves. “Of course sir.”
Walter Kemp stared daggers at the bartender, then broke away, a kindly smile spreading across his face. “Relax friends. I’m here tonight with good tidings.” He stepped into the center of the main room, everyone giving him a wide berth as though he were standing on his own stage. “After many years of searching, I have finally found that which I, and the organization I represent, have been searching for. A doorway, as it were, to a future full of potential, power and riches.” The eyes on each of the patrons glistened at these words. “And now all that stands in my way are a few ne’er-do-wells who have decided to take these things for themselves.” Disappointment flashed across several faces. “Tonight, I ride into battle, prepared to go to war for everything we have all been fighting for, and I come to each of you, seeking soldiers to aid me in this battle.”
Several low murmurs broke out in the crowd.
Kemp held up his hands to calm the crowd. “That being said, I wouldn’t ask you to do this out of the kindness of your heart. Soldiers fight their best when they have something worth fighting for.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a second ring identical to his own and held it up for all of them to see. Their eyes fixed hungrily on it. “There is a building, and inside that building, there is a door. Behind that door is a vast network of tunnels which leads to that which we seek. A power to remake the world. But I can only enter that door and that building should the deed be passed to me. I need the young man who currently holds the deed.” He paused for effect. “And whoever brings him to me alive will become the newest member of the Onyx Sun.”
This time everyone in the room began speaking at once. Kemp smiled, taking in the fevered excitement. He held up his hands once more. “So what say you? Will you help me win this war?”
The voices silenced all at once, everyone looking around the room at everyone else to see who would make the first move. Finally, a thick man at the back of the room stood and crossed his arms. “Seems to me, you need us pretty bad if you’re willing to offer such a juicy reward.”
Kemp’s eyebrows raised.
“Seems it might be dangerous,” said the man. The crowd murmured and nodded in agreement. “Seems to me, we might appreciate a little sweetening of the deal, if you know what I mean.” The man rubbed his forefinger and thumb together as if fondling an imaginary dollar bill. The crowds agreeing voices grew louder.
Kemp smiled. “Well, it seems to me…” he paused and looked about the room. He leaned towards the man and spoke in a near-whisper: “You should have taken the deal.”
He held out his arms and black sand exploded from the palms of his hands, engulfing the room and everything in it in a matter of moments. Walter Kemp grinned as he felt the life of every single patron warp until each and every one of them was part of the sand.
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