Greetings everyone,

Welcome to the fifth chapter of "The Arcful Dodger' before it goes on it's temporary hiatus in the month of August.

Speaking of which, make sure to check out "Phony Talks" as that will be where I plan to send out one "final" announcement about future scheduling plans for the various stories and how the temporary hiatus will work.

Also, thank you all for putting me back on the right track. I hope you all enjoyed the rewritten chapters, if not then I'd be appreciative if you'd advise me on how I can continue to do better.

Next Scheduled Release Date:

September 2nd: "The Arcful Dodger - Ch. 06"

Make sure to Favorite, Follow, and leave a Review.

Till next time!

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Chapter Five

It's been a relatively peaceful few weeks since the "tragic" demise of Scarlet Lancaster at the hands of a yet-unknown assailant and the "unfortunate" destruction of the popular nightclub. Dodger's efforts to learn more and more about his target were proving to be increasingly difficult the deeper he dug. Even with the assistance of Hei "Junior" Xiong, who remained apprehensive towards Dodger due to his traitorous back-stabbing, was having very little luck with obtaining information of the charitable future councilman.

It's also been several weeks since Junior notified Dodger of Crocea Mors's current location. According to his sources, Junior had heard that a group of guys calling themselves some idiotic gang name had purchased a sword and shield on the black market. And rumors said it's appearance was very distinguishable with a mysterious emblem on the shield's surface.

Of course, this did little to satisfy Dodger's insatiable desire to see his family's treasured heirloom return to it's rightful owner but even he knew that information was plentiful at best and scarce at worst. So as much as he hated it, it was the most he could afford at this time.

Which brought him to now as he stood just outside a dank and depressing bar located in the slums of Vale. The bar itself was far enough away to not be an eyesore in the eyes of the public but still noticeable enough to draw in the undesirables of the street. It's been years since Dodger had entered the place such as this and even longer since he became a thief. He knew the types of people who came to bars such as this; drunks wishing to drown their sorrows at the bottom of a bottle and misfits of the underground, or to put it simply, up and coming self-entitled gang members. And if Junior's information was right then this decrepit bar was "hangout" spot of the men who currently possessed his family's heirloom.

Straightening his tie and checking to make sure he was carrying everything he might need during the interrogation, Dodger pushed open the door and took his first step into the dirty bar and gaining the patron's undivided attention. Several of whom began whispering to one another while Dodger ignored their whispers in favor of directing himself towards the bar, where a man with balding grey hair stood behind the counter, cleaning a cup with a dirty rag.

Tapping on the counter, the man looked up to see Dodger standing before him.

"What'll it be?" asked the bartender, still cleaning the cup as he eyed Dodger's form.

With a smile and tip of his hat, Dodger took his placement on the bar's stool, hooking his cane onto the loop of his dress pants.

"A double of your finest scotch, my good sir." said Dodger, watching as the man rolled his eyes before reaching under the counter and placing a dusty bottle of cheaply made scotch on the counter, causing Dodger to raise his eyebrow in question.

"Best you're gonna get in a shit hole like this." said the bartender, pouring Dodger a glass into a little glass cup with three ice cubes.

Meanwhile, the rest of the bar's patrons kept their eyes of Dodger's form, more specifically his attire and luxury cane that remained hooked at his side. Not that Dodger was unaware of their stares, he'd trained himself to be able to sense when a person was watching him. One had to develop a surplus of skills in order to survive in the slums of Vale and he was no different.

Which was when he "felt" the presence of someone behind him, he was quick to react as he swiftly caught the person's wrist, catching them by surprise. In retaliation, several of the bar's patron jumped from their seats, each of them armed with a weapon ranging from brass knuckles to pool cues to broken bottles. The man still caught in his grip struggled as Dodger twisted him around, wrapping his right arm around his neck and keeping his left arm behind his back, essentially turning the man into a human shield. Immediately, the man being held by Dodger's insane grip opened to his mouth to speak, an action that Dodger politely obliged due to his generosity.

"Get your hands off me, man!" the man shouted, struggling in Dodger's grip while the others watched on in silence. "I didn't do anything! Come on, man!" the man continued to plead but Dodger knew better. This man was attempting to lift his cane from his person, most likely in order to sell it on the streets for a heft price.

"I'm afraid I'm gonna to have to sadly disagree with you in that regard, my good sir." said Dodger, his way of speech causing some confusion in the man's eyes as she temporarily stopped struggle, mistakenly allowing Dodger to grip his wrist tighter and causing the man to drop his confused expression in favor a wince from the pain. "You fine gentlemen seem quite knowledgeable of the surrounding area, perhaps you can answer a few questions I might have?" asked Dodger when one of the men raised his broken bottle into the air and with a scream charged forward, causing Dodger to sigh in annoyance before grabbing his cane and with the push of a button, launched the cane's ball-tipped handle at the charging man's forehead. The force knocking the man completely unconscious and before anyone could react, Dodger activated his Dust-infused gloves, sending an electric shock into the man's body and causing him to faint, To which Dodger released his grip on the man and watched as he fell directly on top of the man already passed out on the floor.

With a flick of his wrist, the cane's ball-tipped handle retracted back towards to which Dodger twirling the cane with some added flare before stomping it on the ground with a mighty thud, causing the various men still standing to step back from Dodger's intimidation as he looked at them with a sardonic smile.

"Since you gentlemen have no desire to answer without force, then I'm afraid I'm left with no other option." said Dodger, picking his cane back up as the ball detached from the handle as electric sparks ran down the connecting cable and the ball glowed bright blue. "Are we going to stand around all day or are we going to fight?" he asked when on the men charged him with the pool cue in hand.

Reacting quickly, Dodger wrapped the cable around the pool cue, trapping it in place before twisting his body just in time to avoid the bladed tip of a knife from one of the other armed men. Leaping into the air, Dodger extended the length of cable around the two men's necks before retracting it and causing the two men to bash their foreheads together, causing them to stagger. Dodger then shot out the ball at the two men, shocking them with the dust-infused ball that stunned the men into fainting.

Suddenly, another man pulled out a small handgun but before he could even pull the trigger, Dodger shot back by throwing a bladed throwing car at the gun's barrel, shocking the man until his eyes landed upon the glowing symbol of the bladed throwing card.

A blue diamond.

And in an instance the man found himself coated in a block of ice that kept him immobile. Smiling Dodger looked back to see the bartender was unfazed by the entire altercation when Dodger silently nodded, causing the bartender to sigh and roll his eyes before moving to the door and flipping the closed sign on. With a final nod, the bartender exited the building to the back alley but not before turning back to say one last thing to Dodger.

"Eh! Good job with the club." said the bartender, lighting a cigar in his mouth.

"I'm afraid I have no recollection of any club, my good sir." said Dodger, hiding a smile as the bartender chuckled out a puff of smoke before turning away and leaving Dodger alone with the head honcho still trapped in a block of ice. "Now then, my good sir, would you care to answer a few question of mine?" he asked, smiling as the man cowered beneath his gaze while his teeth continued to chatter.

"W-W-What do y-y-you want-t-t-t?" asked the man, his teeth chattering from the cold when the cane came smashing down on the block of ice, freeing the man from hypothermia but unfortunately not freeing him from Dodger's clutches as he grabbed the man by the collar and preceded to drag him towards the bar and locking him in place with some handy cuffs that he always kept on hand just in case. After checking to see if the man was secure, Dodger went around the bar and brought out several ingredients and placed them on the counter.

"I'm looking for a very particular item of value and rumor has it that your gang is currently in possession of said item." said Dodger as he took a bottle and poured it into a small glass before taking a crusher and adding some ingredients.

"We've got a lot of valuables, man. Gonna have to be more specific than that." said the man, trying to mask his growing fear with a facade of bravado while Dodger gently smiled at the man.

"My apologies." he automatically said, taking the crusher and beginning to shake it to crush the ingredients. "I'm looking for a sword and shield that's said to once belong to a family of huntsmen. The shield has a very peculiar emblem on it's surface that's supposed to be the family's crest and is capable of mecha-shifting into a portable scabbard." said Dodger, finishing his crushing and uncapping the top of the crusher and tipping t to allow the crushed liquid to pour into the glass.

"W-We ain't got anything like that, man." said the man, oblivious to the fact that Dodger knew what factors to look for to find out if a target was lying.

Sighing, Dodger placed the glass on the counter after mixing it up and placing a tea leaf on the edge of the glass before setting it on a napkin and moving in front of the man. The man glanced down at the drink before looking back up in confusion only to see Dodger armed with another bladed throwing card to which he then slammed on the man's other hand, embedding into the counter. The man shouted in pain as blood poured from his wound while Dodger remained unfazed by his wails.

"O-Okay! Okay...We have something like that, okay?" asked the man when Dodger smiled and pulled the drink away before pulling a bottle of lemon juice and a salt shaker. All color faded from the man's face as he stared at Dodger's face in absolute terror. "WAIT!" he pleaded, struggling with his cuff before calming down. "Alright, we did get the weapon from this guy but before we could sell it this real shady guy came by with this woman. She wore some kind of red armor and had a weird mask. But they took it along with everything else we had." said the man, looking down in defeat. "I-I don't know where they are anymore or even who they were..."

Seeing the man's look of defeat, most likely mentally preparing himself for Dodger's torture when he pushed the drink towards him and grabbed his hand to perform some basic first aid. Afterwards, the gentlemanly thief smiled at the man, unlocking his cuff and stepping off to the side, tipping his top hat at the man, cradling his hand close to his chest.

Thank you, my good sir, for satisfying my curiosity for the evening." said Dodger, straightening his tie before gesturing to the pile of unconscious men lying on the floor. "You and your fellow have made my night quite interesting indeed." And with a final wave of his hand, the gentleman thief walked away from the seedy bar, leaving the man to sigh in relief when his eyes locked onto a white card underneath the drink Dodger had made him.

Lifting the drink from the card, the man's eyes widened as he read the card's cover. "The Arcful Dodger." the man read aloud, sighing as he dropped the card and picked up the drink, lifting the glass to meet his lips as it's sweet nectar poured down his throat. Despite the fear the man felt beneath Dodger's gaze he had one thing that he could admit. "That guy scares the shit out of me...But he does make a nice cocktail." said the man turning to look back the unconscious pile of his companions, sighing in defeat. "Boss ain't gonna be happy about this one..."