Character Spotlights: Menelker & Persephone
Master Menelker is a mysterious and misunderstood figure, though he's widely known as the most powerful martial artist in the Realm.
Midori and Menelker (The Two Dragons) are sons of the legendary Memnarch. While Midori and Menelker are both skilled martial artists and they both learned how to take the forms of dragons (green and black, respectively), they have diametrically opposed philosophies. Midori believes in nurturing and honor. Menelker believes in winning, and if that happens to involve harsh training or "cheap" tactics, then so be it. A win is a win. Menelker embodies "playing to win."
That said, Menelker has no interest in harming innocents or fighting non-combatants. Instead, he seeks combat from the most skilled opponents he can find, and expects that they will use whatever means they can to win, as will he. Menelker has been known to engage in deathmatches—fights to the death—but only when both parties agree to such serious business.
Eventually, Menelker ran out of worthy opponents. Even the Fantasy Strike tournament would be just a trifle to him, not even worth his time. Menelker left the Realm in search of greater challenge. During this time, many referred to him as the Exiled Dragon, and hoped he'd never return. Where did he go? We've all heard fairy tales about the Dreadlands to the north, but Menelker dared to see what's truly there.
He discovered the Undead Scourge of the Dreadlands (a playable faction in Codex) and found dangers greater than any had imagined. There he learned a name that mortals of the Realm do not yet know: Vandy Anadrose, the Queen of Demons. (Or Queen of D's as some say.) The undead Queen has made bargains with beings who don't belong in our world. Even Menelker, a seeker of true power, knows that some things are too dangerous. Bargaining with the Beyond is bound to backfire.
Menelker barely survived this investigation, but his very lifeforce was nearly sucked out of him while in the Dreadlands. Half his body is now gray with the pallor of death. He returned to the Realm, saw the worthless clockwork army of Flagstone, and knew that he needed worthy opponents more than ever. This time not to defeat, but to train. Of all the warriors of the Realm, he saw the most potential in Grave Stormborne. Unfortunately, Midori has held back Grave by withholding training in the so-called dark arts. Master Memnarch accepted all maneuvers that lead to victory as valid, and Menelker agrees. Grave needed to go to the next level, and Menelker knew Midori was the real obstacle.
Menelker, The Exiled Dragon returned to challenge Midori to a deathmatch. Midori accepted. Two Dragons fought and then one remained. Deathstrike Dragon, indeed.
Although Grave was consumed with rage, this fueled his training more than ever. While Menelker is a villain in Grave's eyes, he's also ultimately Grave's true mentor. The two went on to have several encounters, and each time Grave would learn one of his own weaknesses, as Menelker demonstrated how to abuse "cheap tactics" that Grave was unprepared for.
Menelker’s Bleeding Wounds ability becomes Gushing Wounds on his gold character card. With Bleeding Wounds, his black face cards let him draw a card and make the opponent discard a card. Gushing Wounds upgrades that to any face card attack, including his new Destiny face cards. In other words, instead of being able to trigger that ability from 6 cards in his deck, he can now trigger it from 16 cards.
He can also power up for any non-joker card, rather than just black face cards. This means he can access his ability cards more easily if he ever needs to, in addition to keeping a constant stream of Gushing Wounds going.
Menelker’s Destiny card is Aerial Nether Orb, which is like Akuma’s air fireball in Street Fighter. It’s an 8 damage combo starter and it only costs 1 combo point, meaning he can do a pretty damaging combo if it hits. It also triggers Gushing Wounds, so if it hits Menelker will draw a card and the opponent will discard a card. That’s pretty great upside for a fast 2.4 speed move. The air fireball is so hard to hit that opponents can’t even follow up if they dodge it. That makes Menelker much safer on downside risk. He doesn’t have to worry about Grave dodging into True Power of Storms or DeGrey or Setsuki dodging into full combos on him. Instead, they’ll dodge into no hit at all.
The myth of the Nox Oracle has many conflicting accounts. The common theme is that a woman in a black dress walks out of the darkness, often accompanied by her two dogs, and makes a memorable night. Some stories depict her as seductive and intoxicating to both men and women. Other stories depict her as cruel and sadistic, while still others portray her as wise and nurturing.
Persephone is her true name.
The most powerful beings of the Realm have several different kinds of power. Quince's power comes from lies, deception, and propaganda. DeGrey's power is his ability to shed light on the truth. Grave's power comes from relentless training and discipline, while Menelker's power is the will to do what others can't or won't do. Persephone's power is tapping into the most base and animal desires and having complete mastery over her own emotions as well as the emotions of others. It's a kind of power that even tough guys like Grave and Menelker aren't prepared to face.
While the stories about Persephone's sadistic nature are not entirely false, they also aren't the whole picture. She does revel in the pain of others, but it's pain mixed with pleasure. Even her unwilling victims become willing during the heightened experiences she creates, and some have said she made them feel "truly alive."
While Persephone enjoys "play," don't forget your place. She is serious and looks after those weaker than her, admiring their inner strength. She understands trends and people as only an outsider can—sometimes we're too close to our own problems to see them. Several times throughout history, Persephone has intervened and changed the course of events to favor those who she believes deserve to be favored.
Generations ago during a day of great turmoil, DeGrey was mortally wounded, impaled by a wooden post. Persephone appeared, and after a bit of "play," offered DeGrey a second chance at life as long as he pursued his mission. DeGrey accepted, and Persephone left a (tormenting) spirit behind to watch over DeGrey. DeGrey owes his unnaturally long life to the Nox Oracle.
Several years ago, when Onimaru claimed the Stormborne Family Sword from Grave's father in battle, Persephone stepped out of the night to retake that sword. Grave was just a young boy, crying as Persephone comforted him and presented him with his father's weapon. It was his now, though she cautioned him never to use it unless it's necessary.
She may have had other adventures, but no one seems to talk about these things.
Persephone’s gold character card gives her Double-Edged Dominance. Now in addition to building her own hand, the opponent has to discard a card, or discard two cards if she knocks them down twice in a row. She can bury opponents with this kind of card advantage. Her pleasure and your pain go hand in hand here.
Persephone’s Destiny card summons her two Loyal Hounds. Are they just regular dogs or are they humans in dog form? Who can say. These Loyal Hounds really do stick by her side though, and increase her damage potential quite a bit. The Hounds are a 6 damage Ender, which doesn’t seem like too big of a deal at first glance. At least it’s easy to tack those on to any combo, if you want. When they hit, they stick around though (loyal!). They’ll do another 6 damage the next time you win combat, and another 6 the time after that, etc. She can even stack them and have multiple Loyal Hounds each doing 6 damage at once. To get rid of them, the opponent has to win combat (or tie, at least).
Persephone can already be very controlling with her Mistress’s Command super. The Loyal Hounds can soften up the opponent and bring them down in hit points enough that she can threaten to loop Mistress’s Command (into knockdown and a high chance of winning combat, into another Mistress's Command) into a kill that much earlier. Mistress’s Command also lets her guarantee that the hounds will stick around for multiple turns by forcing through more combat wins.