Nobody could have ever said he wasn't refined. Vicious, yes. Cruel, certainly. A heartless monster with no desires other than to further his own lot, maybe. But certainly not unrefined, or inelegant, or - god forbid - crude. There was no way he was going to allow anyone to think that he, the most powerful fighting being on the face of the earth and on several planes of existence, was in any way not a proper high-class warrior.

As such, he made sure that his lair, while intimidating and rugged outside, was really quite well-decorated on the inside. When out on his various travels to find and defeat powerful warriors to add to his collection of bodyguards, he tended to . . . appropriate any architecture or artwork he found intriguing, and what he couldn't take, he destroyed and remembered for later. Ancient frameworks from Asia, giant marble pillars from Greece, delicately carved fountains and furniture from every corner of the continent, soft plants and flowers from the oceanic islands, and artwork from wherever he found it - all of this he either brought back or copied into his mountain home.

With an artful twist, he arranged it all so it looked good together - not simply all right, but good, which was difficult to do when you had so many different cultures all clashing together in one area. But he'd learned something from his years of roaming, and that was that no matter how different things might look, they can always be put together and work. His guardians came from every strange world he'd seen, and while as humans they looked absolutely unfathomable in a line, as jungle cats - tigers, lions, leopards - they were stunning. And really quite comforting, too; they weren't nearly as vain or proud as they were as humans.

And so in his palace buried in stone, he lived, and slept, and ate, trained, meditated, planned. There was much to do in his life - gaining new powers and dominating whatever he came across tended to take up most of his time - but he always found a moment or two every day to simply relax and enjoy his mastery of the world of art. Spotted tiger lilies in a fine Grecian vase would normally be considered a bit abhorrent, but with just the right sprigs of mint, it really worked.

And it was elegant.

However, it was not universally appreciated. While he may have enjoyed the simple pleasures of a truly beautiful home, Wuya seemed to despise it.

"Really, Chase," she'd said to him one day, "This place just isn't right. It doesn't suit the idea of a world-dominating villain like yourself."

"And what, my dear witch, is that supposed to mean?"

"Look at all this white!" Her arms flung wide, taking in the nearest span of pillars he'd copied from an ancient Roman coliseum. "It's too pure, too . . . too good! You'll make the monks think you're on their side one day."

"I somehow doubt that."

Nonetheless, he enjoyed it. There was water in his fountains, not blood or magma (much to Wuya's chagrin). The flowers he grew weren't the poisonous kind, nor were they always black and purple and red (although the roses he had were, admittedly, a rather dark hue of crimson). The wood and stone in his furnishings were red cherry and white marble (with traces of oak and obsidian). And he rather enjoyed the presence of gold in not only his eyes and armor, but in the metallic aspects of him lair (if it was lined with metal or supported by iron, he either covered it or replaced it completely with the ever-malleable, shining substance).

It was all really quite beautiful. Much like him.

His bodyguards were all big cats. Smaller cats were fine, yes, but they were a bit high-handed even for him and required too much maintenance. Lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs - now there were proper animals. Graceful and stately, they obeyed him unquestioningly to the very end, and they made very nice companions when he needed some silence and comfort. He'd been told that yes, cats were distinctly evil in most rights, and so that part of his personality seemed to have gotten along with the rest of the evil world.

But dogs?

He despised dogs.

Not just because they were the natural enemy of cats, oh, no. They may have been vicious and loyal and extremely good at guarding things, but they were noisy. Noisy, ugly, hairy, and messy - unbelievably messy. They had no sense of personal hygiene. He'd made a policy for himself that if he ever met a dog that stood taller than him when it was on two legs, it needed to die. Instantaneously.

They were too friendly, in any case. Just couldn't keep their distance.

The palace - because he enjoyed referring to it that way - was very quiet, most of the time. With the unfortunate addition of Wuya to his collection of subordinates, there had been a bit of an increase in noise level - simply because she could, or so he found out.

"It's far too quiet in here. I don't hear the screams of the tormented or the cries of the innocent anywhere!"

"I happen to enjoy meditation without interruption."

"Interruption?" Wuya had laughed then, and he remembered thinking just how much he really hated the sound of her voice. "Why, but Chase, those are so soothing! I'd think they'd make meditation easier!"

"Maybe for you," he'd responded, eyes shutting in an attempt to get rid of her (If I can't see you, then maybe you're not really there).

"It is so for me. Come on, give it a try. I'm sure you have prisoners locked up somewhere, right?"

"No. They're a nuisance." Although he did have corpses somewhere. "If you enjoy screams of pain so much, then why don't you go out and cause havoc away from here?"

"Well, that's because . . . I mean, you wouldn't mind if I hung around, now, would you?"

"Only if you're not in the same room as I am, Wuya."

Sometimes, he wondered if perhaps he was the only decent Heylin warrior in existence - one who stayed true to the honorable ways of martial arts without letting anything like decency get in the way, and who could tell true beauty from simple prettiness.

And the longer he stuck around to deal with the Xiaolin monks, Spicer (and his cohorts), and Wuya, the more reinforced that thought became.