Money Game

On her first birthday, Iris Persephone Dark learned what it felt to live.

From the very first scream her little lungs gave to the world in a flurry of tears, it was obvious she wasn't like the other children. For you see, her nickel-colored eyes that so gently contrasted the black hair so characteristic of the family she descended from weren't that of a kid. There was a special depth to them, as if they were mirrors to the soul of the observer itself, so cunningly cutting through every mask those that dared look at her hid behind. It was obvious, just from one look, that she was special, even for the Dark blood that ran through her veins, and that no secret — no matter how dark — could hide from the brilliant soul that sat behind those brown irises.

But genius and deep eyes were not the only gifts the world would bestow upon Iris that day. It knew something as little as that wasn't enough to satisfy one of her kind, so it gave it the only thing it felt would be enough — it crowned her the true heir of Dark as the helicopter crashed down and burned, taking the two people that called themselves her parents just moments earlier with it. But she — she wasn't as much as scratched. She simply opened her eyes once more, looking around herself with nothing but curiosity behind them, oblivious to the path the universe had set her on.

On her sixth birthday, Iris learned of privilege.

By this point, her intelligence was more than crystal clear to all members of the families running the Company, so they quietly avoided the strange child their now-gone companions left for them to take care of. But the other kids that surrounded them — they weren't so lucky. And, due to who she was, their parents didn't dare to explain to their children that they should avoid her. Their brains were unaware of what a person she was, so they treated her like their own, inviting her to plays and other activities they'd had the luck to be able to take part in. But it wasn't ever enough for her — so in her more-than-developed mind, she schemed, fully aware of what could be done to satisfy the hunger inside her.

She took that which wasn't hers, a crystal necklace of the house of Carter, right from the room it lay in. It was a simple act she thought of to just be a prank, really — all she needed to do was go to the side as the other kids the family invited to their house were having their fun, and nab it from a place nobody would even see her in. She knew she shouldn't, but the piece was beautiful, and it would be nothing but hilarious to the family it belonged to, she thought, as her little hands grabbed it and put it in her pocket.

When the next day, the theft was discovered, she did as little as say she saw one of the peasant boys that cleaned the house take it. They never even questioned her word — after all, why would they? She was a Dark, a friend of the family, so what her mouth stated as fact was as much if not more for the Carter household. The boy screamed as they took him away, and she simply smiled, silently congratulating herself on her brilliance.

On her eleventh birthday, Iris learned of power.

Her grandfather, Percival Darke, had always known that this day would come sooner or later — the day he'd have to explain to the person that would become his heir of what a great responsibility she held in her little hands. Carefully and step by step he revealed to her the truth about their Company, of what it did, and what it meant for the life of Iris and everyone around her. He told her of the Three Great Diasporas, of the Sixth and Seventh Occult Wars the deals they've made during them, of the Normalcy that he signed alongside his colleagues, and of what all of it meant for her and her future career. She nodded along with her curious little head as she absorbed more and more facts, ready to fulfill the duties she was taught lay on her as the primary inheritor of the Dark family.

Percival Darke smiled, happy to see the person he didn't yet call a granddaughter more than ecstatic to study the craft of his art. But what he did not know is that the person that would soon choose the name Iris over the one she was given at birth took not just that she was important away from their conversation. She understood something much more — that if she just wanted, she could take the world she lived in into her power-inherent hand, and mold it to her liking. And on that day, a single thought took root inside her head — one that would blossom into a tree that would rock her life upside down.

On her sixteenth birthday, Iris learned of money.

She was no longer just a kid anymore. As was expected of a young person like her, she had taken her rightful place as an assistant to Mr. Darke himself, going from one task to another and simply observing as dollar after dollar flew through the group and multiplied, nearly from thin air. She looked at what it took to make most of what you were given, and knew that it would come to her to make these decisions one day. She simply observed transaction after transaction, and realized that she herself could do this and so much more with the privilege and power she was given the day she came to life.

But with that, she perceived another peculiar thing — in this world, money — and the power that came alongside it — wasn't just hers to take, even if she was the one to make it. She had to share it with the horrid little bastards of the families that run the Company with her that she had to call friends before her grandfather and other elders. No matter how hard she worked or how much she needed it, she always had to share the only food for the hunger inside of her. It made her sick to her stomach, but, as the distinguished lady she wanted to be, she swallowed the anger inside of her, and put on a fake smile, already shafting plans on how to make sure the world would turn to how she wanted it to be — how it should be.

On her twenty-first birthday, Iris learned of independence.

The wise investments and decisions she now made herself have proven more than fruitful, giving more and more of what the Dark household needed every day. But the very moment she turned twenty-one, she laid aside her checks and bills to do something much more important — celebrate her finally coming of age. Fully knowing she was now entirely free from those idiotic little stuck-up cretins that had controlled her and her life for so long, she took a bottle of the darkest wine she could find and drove forward into the night, laughing all the way through at her newfound liberty she knew she had always deserved.

As that night's stars flickered above her head, she once again revisited the plan she'd woven since she was eleven, her mind now unshackled by the chains of reason and being a minor. She took a mirror and looked deep into it, seeing nothing but her wonderful eyes. She didn't need anything more — for, in that moment, she didn't see the rest of her body she found so horrid. With the power she gained and the knowledge of how to use it, with the privilege of knowledge and the understanding of the world that came with it, and with the money and wisdom on how to use it to fulfill her plan, she looked at a boy she hated so much since she was eleven for the final time and closed her eyes, smiling widely through tears of joy. When she opened them again, she was no longer who she was before — she was now the woman she always had been, independent and fully herself for the first time since she was born.

She looked into her eyes again, and already knew what the name she'd choose for herself was.

On her twenty-seventh birthday, Iris learned of violence.

With more than eleven years of study, Mr. Percival trusted her like nobody else in his Company. She ran everything he ran, and that meant one thing — that it was finally time for her to know of the full extent of Marshall, Carter and Dark's business. So, with a heart on his shoulder, he took her below the world of light, into the darkness of the less-than-legal operations the Company ran. She didn't do as much as flinch when she learned of what they did. She understood that all of this, no matter how horrid, was only to further one goal — to ensure they stayed in the position they deserved where their money and normal power couldn't help. He smiled, knowing he had raised her well.

By then, nobody — no matter how big or small — dared to question whether Iris Dark was, in fact, Iris Dark, and not the rancid creature she was born as. But on the day of her twenty-seventh birthday, one of the brutes her grandfather had hired looked her in the eyes, and, even with all the privilege and power she held, challenged the thought that she was a woman with just his sight. So she answered appropriately. With everything she could obtain with the dollars she'd made, she beat him unconscious until he admitted he was wrong. All to ensure their status, she thought, as she smiled widely, realizing what giant possibilities this newly-found power had just opened for her. She did that because she knew that with this, she could finally find a cure to the never-ending starvation that plagued her for so long now.

On her thirty-second birthday, Iris learned of freedom.

When the clock struck midnight, everything had come to fruition. It all clicked, what she needed to truly do to take the hunger that rippled through her guts and satisfy it like nothing ever could. She looked back on her life, and found only one solution. She knew the rest wouldn't take it well, but she was ready to accept it as just a price to pay to maintain the status quo she so desperately wanted. Those that held her back would fall.

The two other old men that took so much privilege, power, money, and independence from her and her grandfather would now pay. They would pay for daring to take away the only thing that could ever make her happy, robbing her of the power she was rightfully hers. After all, whose else could it be? So she put on a final fake smile and invited them for a yacht ride, putting the first piece of domino into motion. The rest of the night was history, she thought, as she finally took the remaining pieces of power the two farts held away from her into her own hands, and blamed their deaths on some poor Serpent's Hand idiot that gave her the chance to do so.

But when she brought the good news home, good old Percy wasn't happy — his eyes simply twisted in pure terror, his mouth unable to even comment on what his granddaughter had done. But that was okay, Iris realized, putting the man to retirement on a far and remote island that had everything he could ever hope for. She didn't need him anymore, so his opinion was less than of no meaning to her. Now that she took everything she needed to not starve any second longer, she felt happy, content for the first time since she was born. But soon, she realized, the hunger didn't fully go away — it had simply went dim for a few hours before returning, stronger than ever before.

But even then, she smiled once more, knowing more then well what more could be done to quench it, this time for good.

It was almost time to go, Iris Dark thought, as she finished combing her perfect, black hair. She looked in the mirror, smiling upon seeing her own beauty, still thinking about what had happened and, more importantly, what was about to come. You see, there have been… certain changes, in the last few hours, done to the world and the status quo she had known for so long. Even for someone that has undergone such a drastic metamorphosis from her birth as Iris, it was surprising. For one, she had finally gotten the new dress she had requested two days ago. But, almost as importantly, the Veil of Secrecy has now fallen, fully shattering upon the earth it once protected.

But yesterday or today weren't important. From the day she learned of the Curtain she'd known it was an imperfect solution, one that would inevitably one day break with as little as one movement of someone's hand. No, tomorrow was of much greater importance, for tomorrow was her forty-first birthday.

And, in celebration of that milestone, Iris Dark wasn't going to wait for others to shower her with meaningless gifts she didn't need. Today, she would gift herself all that she ever wanted and needed. Now, fully capable of doing what she had always wanted to do, she would break the camel's back and reach for the stars she had always deserved, now unbound by the laws of so-called normalcy limiting her trade.

For her forty-first birthday, Iris Persephone Dark was going to give herself the world.

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