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1909

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The year is 1909. It is late August, and the winds of New Arcadia howl only slightly – deep and without fail, as if it were heeding a warning in hushed undertones to the passers-by on the streets. In the heart of the city, there lie a speakeasy found only by those who happen upon it, one which harbors an even darker secret than that of forbidden fluids and corrupt government officials. In its belly, there was a fight club; one of such great prospect that even those not of their lands would happen upon it with such misfortune, but gladly take it upon themselves to enter at the risk of their own life.

It is here, in the club’s center ring, there stood a man before all those who cheered him on or jeered him away; a man who without this club he would lack a respectable stature, a man with fists of fury as he pound into the face of another, a man with eyes of shining hazel and hair as black as an obsidian sword.

And this man was Jonathan Gabriel.

At 20 years of age, he only visited this fight club when he needed the extra cash, or to blow off some steam. He hated his factory job more than anything in the world. Sure, the risk of death was excitable, but remembering every single task was hard on his head.

Left hook. Dodge. Right hook. Kick.

The club went wild as a record played in the background. Finally, with one final head-to-head blow, the opponent was down. Shouting. Cheering. Playful punches. Congratulations. Drinks all around.

That was too easy!

“C’mon!” Gabriel shouts after taking a swig of moonshine, “Where’s the real fight!? I need a real opponent! Who wants to fight me!?”

The room’s noise level slowly, yet swiftly, skids to a halt. People shift uneasy glances towards one another. Someone leaves the room and heads up a narrow stack of stairs in the back. Everything is suddenly as awkward as Gabriel feels.

“What? No one? Seriously?”

“I beg to differ.”

Gabriel turns around to face the incredibly deep, gravelly voice, expecting to be met with someone his height but instead receiving about twice that. His eyes trail up the dim cloak of what appears to be some freak of hideous nature, to meet with the piping red eyes, burning with intense hate, of the Devil himself.

“Got a bone to pick, child?” He snarled, his grin twisting into something impossibly achieved by normal standards.

Gabriel is stunned for a moment, but only for a moment, as if to say he were impressed by this turn of events. Eyes widened, he appeared confused suddenly.

“Uh….yes?”

“You have defeated every one of my fighters, and yet you thirst for more. I can respect that.” The growl behind his southern drawl stung Gabriel’s ears. “There’s only one challenger left. Defeat him, and you will have immeasurable power. What say you?”

The entire room was the collective equivalent of someone biting their tongue out of sheer suspense.

“S...Sure!” Gabriel glanced around to see people shaking their heads before looking back to the Devil and punching his fist into the other one, “Who do I gotta fight?”

“A determined soul. It’ll look wonderful on my trophy wall.” He chuckled, and the more he did so, the more it echoed and grew just as he did out of his cloak, until it encompassed the entire room. Horns sprouted and spiraled, fangs bit forward, claws appeared from out beyond the cape, and suddenly he wasn’t only tall, but he was massive. The laughter ceased. “You’re fighting me.”

Gabriel took a step back. Plenty of people cleared out the room by now, but some still lingered, one of them hiding their face behind a book. He couldn’t back out now. There was no escape. His brows suddenly narrowed, and he took a step forward. Three distorted church bell rungs later, and the fight began.

The first thing that happened was, with one flick of the wrist, Gabriel ended up thrown against a wall – but that alone did not deter him. Nor did the second time. Or the third one. Finally, he dodged, and landed a few decent punches to the Devil’s abdomen. The Devil tried to punch, but Gabe used it to springboard off and land a single hit to his face. The unholy fallen god then chuckled and grabbed him with both hands, slamming his much smaller body into the dusty concrete floor.

Unable to move, Gabriel started to panic and struggle, but the Devil was too strong, and his brute strength only offered so much. With a large inhale, Satan knew he was close to winning.

“Now the real fight begins.”

He exhaled, leaking into Gabriel’s body via the chest. Every inch of his burned as is he had just been lit aflame, and it twitched and jolted uncontrollably. Without warning, he was fighting inside his own body, his screams growing ever more painful and agonizing to hear.

There was a flash of light out of the blue, and a figured stepped forward. Uttering something Gabriel couldn’t hear, he flung a liquid onto his person – bottle in one hand, book in the other. The more this man talked, the less pain Gabriel felt, and the less intrusive and impulsive his thoughts became. Still, the man continued, until everything was a dull aching throb, and the memories of this event as something significant slipping away.

Gabriel blinked, open and close, for a solid minute, unsure of what just happened. He felt normal again, albeit covered in a strange smelly liquid. The man grabbed his arm, helping him up to his feet.

“Doing okay?”

“Y…Yeah….I…what just…?” He asked, still dazed and confused.

“Well for starters, we need to head out before the police arrive, and I can already hear their sirens. Follow me.”

“Okay?”

The two headed out the back door, emerging from a floorboard and scampering off to an unknown building. Gabriel tried to ask questions along the way, but only got ignored. Finally, upon entering the darkened room, the man turned back towards Gabriel and flicked on a light.

“My name is Tycho Brahe, you’ve just been possessed by Satan, and I brought upon a sleeping spell to make sure he stays under control.”

“What? Do you mean he’s still in me?!”

“Yes, but he’s dormant. You’re safe.”

“Oh…”

A long pause.

“I’m Gabriel. Jonathan Gabriel.”

“I figured as much.”

“So…what do we do now?”

“Now? We wait.”

“For what?”

Tycho looked out the window, peeking behind blinds, “For whatever comes our way.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means, Gabriel,” He turned to face him, “You’re going to be my assistant.”

“That…,” another pause, “…That sounds horrible! And boring! And--”

“You get to fight things.”

“Sold.”

“Excellent.” Tycho turned to the window again, “Now, Gabriel…Let’s rest. Tomorrow’s a big day.”