On that night in the men's room, in the Red Lady saloon, a man tried his best to avenge his dead dog.
"We will die a cruel death!" a voice of a man shouted.
It was not a surprise that some maniacs were present tonight.
The saloon on the edge of Neul was so full that the doorman was turning people away. Only those who had put on their best suits and dresses were allowed to stay, and this was not much of an honor, after all, it was just another underground saloon that served moonlight under the table and stale beer over the same sticky table.
From one look to the elaborate gowns and tastefully revealed stockings of the female patrons, a more innocent mind would have thought that there was some grand celebration going on.
Ted's mind was far from innocent. He knew that where degeneracy was allowed, the degenerates came rushing in. This was a place to get wasted and find one's elbows glued to the tables, either due to aforementioned stickiness or the undeniable allure of cheap ale and women who all seemed to have some kind of a tragic and mysterious backstory.
Ted, who was actually Theidore Kranich Tobias but went by Ted for comfort and his own hatred of his first name, was also dressed to the nines.. He didn't know if he had a backstory, but his expensive pocket watch and regal, dark features accentuated by a form-fitting black suit helped in fooling the other drinkers. Ted drank water, though, but he looked grim enough that the water could have been mistaken for moonshine.
He was with a redheaded lady. This woman, Eknie, was not his wife, girlfriend or lover, although her fair and clear skin and perfectly balanced figure made her quite a catch. It was good to have a woman like that with him, to cause envy, if for nothing else.
Eknie had shot a man for Ted, who had gladly accepted the favor.
Ted was fondling some ivory dice. Instead of numbers, these had occult symbols carved on their sides. Sigils, that was how they called them, those who still knew. The secrets of witchcraft had been buried during the last hundred years. There were still some people who practiced the arts.
Ted was one of them.
In the light of the gas-operated newfangled lamps, a man climbed on a table. At first, it looked like he was going to announce something happy. He was dressed up all nicely, with a striped suit and a big ruffle in the collar of his shirt. One would have thought that this was a new father or something uplifting like that.
"We are doomed!" he exclaimed, the euphoria still distorting his already ugly features.
Some people turned to watch, while others still concentrated on nursing their drinks.
Ted was close enough to the man to notice that he did not smell like booze. This madness had to come from his own brain.
"We will have storms, unlike anything we have ever seen, we will perish!" the madman continued and stepped onto Ted's table. "I don't know why nobody listens to me! I am right!"
Ted observed the situation.
The musicians had stopped playing their merry, exotic songs. Everyone was staring at the crazy man in his nice suit.
The storms back down in the cold south had showed no intentions of moving north.
"You're all wrong and you will die!"
The man pulled out a gun and a collective scream split the smoke-filled air.
Ted squeezed the tablecloth in his fists as the man waved his pistol around. It was a modern gun with some kind of a complicated mechanism to make loading it easier and faster. There was no reason to assume that the pistol was empty.
Ted realized what his hands were doing and pulled the tablecloth from under the madman with one swift motion.
The man yelled as he fell down, but there was no time for him to react. Ted and some muscular, overdressed gentleman tackled the lunatic and wrestled the pistol away from his hands.
When the doorman managed to tie the madman up, he gave Ted an approving look.
"Damn sharp, damn fast," the doorman said. "Thank you, both of you."
Eknie was among the handful of female patrons who had not screamed during the whole ordeal. With her dainty little cigarette still burning in her mouth, she eyed Ted with something also burning in her perfectly blue, pale eyes. Ted pretended not to notice.
A rabid, yet loyal dog, Eknie was an extraordinary woman. Too bad that it did not make her suitable to marry. Ted preferred his nights out and his long mornings without the interruptions from a woman's questions and pleas for attention. He kept Eknie an arm's length away. She was useful, but she could not have any funny ideas in her pretty head. If that happened, it would mean the end of their relationship.
Another woman eyed Ted from the other side of the saloon.
He knew her. It was the harlot who had poisoned his dog. Amanda. He knew her last name, but the less he thought of her, the happier he was.
He didn't know what it had been for. Some people just hated animals. Ted thought beasts were far more noble than anything that walked on two legs. Even though the apologies had been numerous and slick, flowers, chocolates and whiskey, the whole scale of affordable luxury items, that was simply something Ted could never forgive. He still remembered the blood in Glady's foaming drool.
In the pit of his stomach, that horror lived still.
"Is it her?" Eknie whispered.
"It is her," Ted replied. "Bring me some of that moonshine."
One madman was promptly given to the authorities, and Eknie waited, for it was not a good idea to let the city watch know about the moonshine activities.
When the last black uniform coat vanished from the room, Ted nudged his companion.
He received a drink that tasted terrible but hit hard.
"I am going to kill that woman tonight. I need to be a bit drunk for that so that I will not care if my curse hurts innocent bystanders," he said to Eknie.
Any sane woman would have been appalled. Eknie, though, she just nodded. "Don't get too drunk to cast curses," she said and downed her expensive gin, mirroring Ted's movements perfectly.
Hello and welcome back to Neul, seen through Ted's evil and biased eyes this time!
I have a few people I would like to thank - the real life genius Ville, who has supported me through my creative madness and I would also like to thank my family for enabling said creative madness all my life.