Twisted Fate, the Card Master“It’s not gambling if you can’t lose…”
Twisted Fate is an infamous card sharp and swindler who has gambled and charmed his way across much of the known world, earning the enmity and admiration of the rich and foolish alike. He rarely takes things seriously, greeting each day with a mocking smile and an insouciant swagger. In every possible way, Twisted Fate always has an ace up his sleeve.
Born to the nomadic river-folk of the Serpentine, the boy was taught the magic of the cards at an early age and soon learned what it was to be hated. Tolerated for the exotic goods they peddled, but shunned for their strange ways, the boy’s people found only short welcomes wherever they berthed their colorful river barques. His elders claimed this was the way of the world, but their refusal to fight back against this prejudice always rankled the young boy’s sensibilities.
When men who’d lost their fortunes in the gambling tents of the river folk returned in the dead of night to exact vengeance, they came bearing cudgels and emboldened by cheap rotgut. They beat the river folk back to their boats with curses and blows, eventually turning their weapons upon the boy’s family. The boy could take no more and fought back, driving the men away with swift blows from their own clubs.
Proud of what he had done, the boy was stunned when his people turned their back on him. Retaliation went against the code of the river, and there could be only one punishment. Exile. His whole world falling apart around him, the boy watched helplessly as the barques of his folk sailed away without him, leaving him with nothing, alone for the first time in his life.
The boy grew to manhood drifting from town to town, trawling the gambling dens of every city he came to, using his preternatural skill at cards to earn coin to survive. That he was able to relieve the boastful, the arrogant, and the cruel of their cash was just an added bonus. Though always careful to let his opponents win at least some hands, he soon learned more ways to fight when many a disgruntled opponent sought to reclaim their lost fortunes.
Across one table, he met a fellow named Malcolm Graves and, recognising a kindred soul, joined forces with him. The two spent years cutting a ruinous swathe across Valoran. With every con, swindle, and heist, he sought ever more dangerous means to make the cards bend to his will.
That search ended badly when a heist went wrong, resulting in Graves being taken alive, though the riverman ran free. The exact circumstances of that night and its dire consequences for both men remain shrouded in mystery, for the gambler never speaks of it. Seeking to begin again, he returned his birth name to the waters and took another: Twisted Fate.
In the time since, Twisted Fate has continued to ply his games of chance in the high parlors and low dens of every city he visits, earning countless fortunes along the way – though none can say what becomes of these winnings (other than his fine clothes)or why he seems driven to amass such wealth. He has been imprisoned with great fanfare on dozens of occasions, but there is no cell in Runeterra that has been able to hold him. Twisted Fate is always gone with morning’s light, leaving only a mocking calling card to speak to his being there at all.
In Bilgewater, Twisted Fate and Graves finally had their day of reckoning. After a highly destructive running battle, and narrowly avoiding death at the hands of Gangplank, the pair finally put aside their differences, and are now once again working together.
Nigh-on impossible to track, Twisted Fate has been said to vanish into thin air every time an enemy believes they have him cornered. A useful skill indeed for a man who has parted thousands of souls from their gold…
All eyes in Fortune’s Glory were on Twisted Fate. He felt the gambling hall’s many patrons regarding him with a mixture of envy, vicarious excitement, and spiteful longing for him to lose everything on the turn of the last card.
Beyond the avarice common to dens of chance, Twisted Fate felt a singular purpose at work here, a noose being slowly drawn around his neck. The cards were twitching in agitation, warning him of danger. He knew he should fold and get out before whoever was hunting him sprang their trap, but the opportunity to make a pauper of the man across the table was too enticing to forego.
He grinned at his opponent, a greedy merchant whose fortune was built on the whipped backs of enslaved miners. The man’s robes were expensive: Freljord furs, hand-tooled leather, and Bilgewater sea charms. Every finger boasted a ring of blood gold worth more than most men would see in a lifetime. Aromatic smoke drifted from clay pipes to hang over the fortune in coin, jewelery, and deeds lying between them like a pirate’s treasure horde.
Twisted Fate nodded toward the merchant.“I do believe it’s your call, Master Henmar.”
“I am aware of the rules, river rat,” said Henmar, as Twisted Fate ran his tattooed fingers in a repeating spiral pattern on the backs of his cards. “And do not think any of your fancy sleight of hand is going to distract me into making an error of judgment.”
“Distract you?” said Twisted Fate, exuding laconic confidence in every gesture. “I declare, I would never stoop to such a low and dishonorable ruse.”
“No? Then why is it your eyes keep darting from the table?” said Henmar. “Listen closely, I have negotiated with the best of them, and I know the tell of a desperate man when I see it.”
Twisted Fate gave a sly grin, swapping the cards between his hands and theatrically doffing his wide-brimmed hat.
“You’re sharp, sir. I can see that,” he said, sweeping his gaze across the gathered crowd. The usual collection of hangers-on; men and women hoping that whoever won might be generous to those nearby. The cards trembled as Twisted Fate’s eyes fell upon certain individuals and he felt his mouth fill with the rancid flavor of sour milk. He’d long learned to trust that reaction as a sign of imminent bedlam.
There. A man with an eye patch and a flame-haired woman. They were almost certainly armed and well aware of his slippery nature. Did he know them? Probably not. Were they working for Henmar, protecting his assets? Unlikely. A man like Henmar would make it obvious who he’d brought. Bounty hunters then. The cards were growing ever more alarmed in Twisted Fate’s hands. He slipped them together and placed them flat on the table.
“You have a look that tells me you know you have already lost,” said Henmar with the tone of a man who believes everyone to be his inferior.
“Then what say we make this a little more interesting, sir?” replied Twisted Fate, spreading the cards in a fan and watching as the hunters eased closer. “Care to double down?”
“Are you able to cover that much?” asked Henmar suspiciously.
“Easily,” said Twisted Fate, locking his gaze with the merchant and lifting a heavy pouch of coins from the voluminous pockets of his long coat. “Can you?”
Henmar licked his lips and snapped his fingers. A flunky behind the merchant handed him a matching bag of coins. The patrons of Fortune’s Glory gave a collective moan as it was added to the gold heaped in the middle of the table. Wars had been waged for less coin than was at stake here.
“You first,” said Henmar.
“Always,” agreed Twisted Fate, flipping over his cards as the bounty hunters made their move.
The man with the eye patch lunged at him with a capture collar. The woman shouted his name and drew a matching pair of pistols.
Twisted Fate kicked the underside of the table, spinning it into the air in a shower of coins, cards, and parchment. The pistols fired with deafening roars, blasting fist-sized holes in the table. The capture collar snapped closed, but when the smoke cleared and the screams stopped, Twisted Fate was nowhere to be found.
Henmar rose to his feet, his face twisted in outrage as he searched in vain for his opponent. He looked down at the broken pieces of the table and the color drained from his face.
“Where is the money?” he yelled. “Where is my money?”
Five cards fluttered face-up to the floor of Fortune’s Glory.
A winning hand.