Armgill's Heirloom - A Living Enworld Adventure


First Post
This story is composed of post in the living enworld forum. The content is therefore claimed by no one man/woman/thing.

Bartholemu Holland starts down the stairs into the tavern. He notices all the commotion of a full room below, but is unable to let his mind take full attention of the change due to his frustration at Felix's situation. Slowly he descends and looks around, pausing half way down to observe the room.

I just need to put it aside. Forget, just forget again. Again... His mind is scattered. He closes his eyes and lets out a long sigh, struggling to calm down his memories.

Regaining composure, "Lynx" opens his eyes and surprises Joe by strolling to the bar to grab a stool instead of heading to a table as usual. "Hey, Joe, I will take a pale ale," Bartholemu says. Joe pauses for a moment, since this young human has been in his tavern countless times in the past but has never ordered a drink aside from water. "I said I will take an ale Joe," "Lynx" says as he presents the silver to the barkeep.

Bartholemu sips on his ale, looking away from the room and at the wall as a young half-elven woman dressed in light comfortable clothes and with noticeably wet hair tells a story. He breaks his silence from time to time with a sneer or a snicker as the story drones on.

"It was a dark and stormy night...."

"No really!" she insists as a few groans break out at the melodramatic phrasing. "It truly was, as a storm raged outside these very walls, and a group of green young would be adventurers pined away within them. They had come seeking excitement, but pickings were slim, and it looked unlikely that any would venture in from the storm offering an exciting quest. One of them, an exceptionally short sighted singer and storyteller who we will for the sake of argument call Katherine, took it into her head that if adventure would not come to them, perhaps they could seek out a bit of minor distraction of their own. She had always wanted to learn the art of hunting and tracking, and as there were some among the small group skilled in those areas, perhaps they could take a hunting trip together. Now this is the part about being careful what you ask for, because no sooner had this idea been suggested, than a member of the RoadWardens, who had sought shelter from the storm, suggested a target of such a hunt, though one a bit more formidable than our foolish lass had been thinking of."

The young half elf continues a tale of a long trek through the rain, a shocking discovery in the farmhouse they had meant to rest a while at, and the tracking and slaying of a pair of murderous ogres, who had been further twisted by the worship of a dark feral god. As she speaks, the atmosphere continues to reflect her story, with the subtle sounds and smells of rain, the shocking coppery smell when they discovered the horrors left in the barn, and the dark cave where they eventually found and rescued the survivors of the raid on the farm. The subtle magic dissipates as Katherine concludes, "So our impetuous storyteller learned a little more than she had planned, including the importance of remembering where you are. For here in the shadow of the Dragon, people set out to become heroes or they return home to obscurity, but they do not ever embark on casual errands, even if they plan them that way."

Turning to the room, Bartholemu presents himself at the end of Katherine's story, "I'm Lynx. Professional Cardplayer. Good story. I came into the room with good timing. I met one of those RoadWardens not too long ago, i think. Name was Artax. I doubt it was the same one though. That one didn't look like the type to take on Ogres," Bartholemu says with a smile. "I couldn't help but overhear your conversation as I came down the stairs, and I strongly agree with Harwin. Maybe even more so than she herself does. Deception by appearance can be quiet the asset for survival."

"So cute, he is taking my side, lovely boy, but next time, wash a bit more your hears, my name is Opale, he is Harwin. Seriously I thought that discussion would have died with that story, which was a very interesting one and nicely told, by the way. Start to find this discussion boring... you said you are a card player. Hope you have some on you, been a long time I hadn't played. Want to play?"

Bartholemu brandishes a black pack of old worn playing cards from his pocket and raps them twice on the bar. "Of course I have cards on me. What game do you fancy?" He asks as he gestures with his shoulder and head to a table near by.

"Do you know some poker? I like it, many variant, count both on luck and self-control. I'm not the best at it, but I can gain a few coin with it when I really need a meal..." Opale says.

A small, nondescript halfling's ears perk up at sound of an imminent card game. "Cards, eh?" Jacks sidles over next to Opale and Bartholemu. "I haven't played a good game of cards since my great-grandma died. A killer at gin rummy, she was."

"Lynx" sneers, "Heh! Do I know poker?" Bartholemu stands and turns to head for the table. "Perhaps some others would join us for a game. Any takers on a game of poker? Dealer calls with, eh, copper antes to start?"

"I'm in, chum," Jack follows Lynx over to the table, and climbs into a chair.

"That's made three. Harwin, lover, you don't want to join up. We need at least 4 players if we want an interesting game. Or maybe our good story teller would want to play the few copper she made with her last story?" Opale says.

Katherine smiles and says with transparent modesty, "Wouldn't it be easier for me to just split all the money in my purse up between the three of you? Games like these, I prefer to watch rather than play. Its the people that interest me, more so than the cards." She takes a seat where she can watch the game but not peek at anyone's cards and writes on a large sheet of paper in between deals.

Bartholemu sits at the table and shuffles his cards, removing the sevens, knaves, and queens from the deck. Once the other two grab their seats, he begins to deal three cards to each, "Throw your copper piece in the middle for the ante. We are going to play Bouillotte. For those of you watching that have never seen Bouillotte before, three cards are delt to each player and a retourne is delt face up. Win with a brelan carre, or four of a kind, with the retourne, a simple brelan, which is a three of a kind without the retourne, or a brelan carre that is a three of a kind with the retourne. If no one holds one of those, then high cards win. Ace is high." Following the explanation, Bartholemu drops the retourne face up and sets down the deck to look at his cards.

Bartholemu smiles as he shows his brelan to the room. He then sweeps the three coppers off the table and says, "I'll now pass the deal on to Opale here. I would like to play more Bouillotte, but she can call whatever cardgame she knows. Still a copper ante Opale?"

Jack notices Katharine’s paper is filled with sets of three lines of text written in different languages, with many corrections and changes in each set.

Opale chips in a few more copper "Well, just play dealer's call, so next time you deal, we will give it a try. But for now, a good 5 cards poker will be fine."

Bartholemu tosses one of his new coppers as he ask, "Say, have any of you heard about the big festival out in Thoral?"

The friendly poker game is loudly interrupted when the door to the Red Dragon Inn is thrown open. A sudden burst of wind slams the door against the wall, a great *CRACK!* resounds across the room. Startled patrons look out into the black night were a figure shrouded in darkness stands ominously. This creature edges slowly towards the entrance with an odd gait, a third, misshapen leg clacks against the ground as it edges closer. It reaches the door and the light of the tavern reveals the identity of the stranger.

"Oh my! Sorry about all that noise, this wind is so strong, I can barely walk! Goodness..." A small gnome using a gnarled quarterstaff as a walking stick enters the tavern and hastily shuts the door. He smoothes down his simple and efficient traveling outfit, straightens his glasses on his large nose, and heads to the bar to greet the barkeep. "Good evening, sir, you must be Joe? I heard of your tavern all the way back in my hometown, it's weeks away. Oh, I'm sorry! My name!" With this he once again straightens up his clothes. Puffing his chest out imperiously and throwing back his cloak with dashing flair, he pronounces:

"Fimbus Leyron Aukits Macklerey Gimmons the third, illusionist extraordinaire, at your service!" He brings his chest in a bit and gives Joe a wink. "But you can call me Fimble McGee. Perhaps you know my father, Fimbus II? He's quite well known in our city, maybe not around here though. Well then, how about a bit of ale?" Upon receiving his mug, he glances around at the clientele.

As Fimbus present himself, Opale shook gently her head, but it is pretty hard to tell if it is in reaction to what the newcomer said of if it is at the looks her cards, but she really doesn't look like liking it.

Bartholemu, hardly taking the time to notice the newcomer, starts diving for his cards that were strewn about by the wind. Upon gathering all he can see, he sits on the floor at the location of the last retrieved card, shuffles them and starts dealing out the suits to make sure they are all there.

Seeing a game of cards going on at one table, Fimble decides to go make some friends. He strides over to the table to introduce himself.

"I am missing one. Oh no! Where is it?" Bartholemu lowers himself to the ground on all fours and begins to examine the floor. "Nobody move! Don't step on my card or it will be bent! Take care that your stools and chairs are not resting on it."

She saw the cards moving on the table and quickly put her hands on the pill of cards, and grabs firmly her cards, hiding them to everyone. "I don't look nor I move..."

Fimble looks mildly astounded by the number of entrances into the tavern. "Well! This is quite the place, I see!" He watches Barholemu scramble for his cards. "Ahem, pardon me good sir," he says, grinning. "I believe you are... eh... sitting on it." He chuckles and sets his leather satchel down. "I think I'll join in next round, if you don't mind? I'm not so great at cards, but I do love my tricks!"

Bartholemu pulls up a leg and the color slowly returns to his face upon discovering the missing card. Thank Jareth. He then shuffles the entire deck a few times and returns to the table and returns the cards to Opale to finish the game. Once in his seat with his cards, he catches Fimbles gaze and nods "Thanks."

A young man wearing a vest covered in tools of all kinds over his tunic and breeches enters the tavern. He pauses in the entrance, seemingly taken aback by the number of people. As he starts moving toward a table near the card game, a barmaid intercepts him and tells him something. He clears his throat and says, Greetings all, my name is A'jardin, and I am an arcanist seeking employment. He takes a seat at a table near the card game and observes.

Fimbus turns to speak to A'jardin. "An arcanist, eh? Why, I dabble in the arcane as well, and I have a particular fondness for gizmos and gadgets on the side. Perhaps we could trade spells some day, friend?" He winks and continues to watch the game.

Oh my! Another artificer? How er, unexpected. Yes, we may need to trade notes at some point at that. That is, when I have notes worth trading at least. My master told me to learn more than he could teach me I'd need to, how did he put it? 'observe the world around me with my own senses instead of having them filtered through someone else's'. I must admit I haven't the slightest idea what he was talking about, but here I am.
Those with particularly sharp ears may hear him mutter: I'm starting to miss my lab already.

As the door open and close, the wind enters making the place colder. In the center of the card game, the little snake starts to move, enrolling himself tighter around the candle.

"Joe, do you have another candle, one that give more heat, my snake will fall in hibernation if the door continue to open and close like that..."

Opale looks at the newcomers...

"There is more wizard here than in an arcanist tower... I just hope we won't be bother too much by some theories on the latest source of magic..."

"Latest source of magic? What a quaint idea. Magic has no source really, it just exists, permeating everything. Though I suppose you could mean concentrations of magic, such as areas or items, which have a greater or higher quality of magical energy than the norm. Well if you are worried about that, you can rest your mind concerning me at least. Without significantly more experience in manipulating magical energy than I have I wouldn't even dream of seeking out one of the areas or items I was speaking of." A'jardin theorizes.

Opale looks at A'jardin with a desperate looks. "Oh, please... you are just as boring as my mentor... I hate to have to study all these crap to make out some effect. Why I have no dragon blood, it could have been a lot more simpler..."

"Looks like it is my hand that time. Thank you gentleman." Opale says as she gathers the cards and starts to shuffle them. She gives the deck to Fimble.

"You're turn to deal. Dealer's call, so you can call the game you want as long as we can bet and bluff. And to answer you, Bartholemu, that tournament is a contest between the Kingdom of Medibaria and the Realm of Hendrallia. There is contest in pretty much anything. Combat, arts... I don't remember if there is magic contest, but you'll like it, there is some card tournament. Anyway, it is in the city of Thoral, a neutral ground... at least it was, but you know, both power want to control it. Anyway, it is in 7 month I think, so no big hurry to get there. And it is a great occasion to make some good trade."

"Oh, er, is it my turn then? Alright..." Fimble takes the deck and shuffles three times, then cuts it. He deals out the cards. "Well, let's just play five card stud, eh? I'm sure we're all familiar with that one." The game plays out over conversation.

Bartholemu responds, "Yeah. I was speaking with a Hendrillian just the other day and they told me about it. Sounds like quiet the ordeal. I hope to find my way over there to visit the makeshift temple to jareth that is to be set up, and play some cards. I haven't heard much around the city as far as interest, though. Seems like most people feel it is too far away, but hey... seven months, right?" Bartholemu lays down his cards and leans back, a little surprised he isn't breaking ahead anymore.

As Bartholemu starts to speak, Opale starts to calm down. She lights up the new candle she just ask for while she listen. She takes her little snake and brings him near the hotter candle.

"Here baby, you'll be better. Yeap, seven month. That's mean the business should start in two or three month. My cousin generally goes over there to sell spices for the cooking contest. And a good friend of mine has a lot of special deal for that event, and people come to see him month before to make sure they get it in time... but that's merchant stories... that's what happen when you hang too much with those thieves, you starts to see bargain everywhere." Opale puts a few coppers in the center of the table. She then stares at the cards deal to her. As she sees people raise, she simply bow down. "Better save money for the next hand"

Jack sits back and listens to the conversation, while he concentrates on the game. "Well now, that's more like it," he says as he displays his array of cards on the table.

"Well, I think I just made a good move. No chance to beat that." Opale admits.

"Oh, fiddle sticks. I was sure I had that one." Fimble feigns despair, then looks up with a grin and winks, "Bah, I let you have that one, friend. Consider it... a gift." He grins haughtily and then chuckles at his sarcasm. "'Tis only a few copper."

Opale continues with 'Lynx', "Personally, I'll see if I can go over there. Maybe I'll be able to see my good friend, or my cousin. Who knows. But even in magic contest, I doubt I would stand a chance, I need to learn a few tricks before to stand a chance against some old wizards."

She pose a moment, and looks at her snakes, that seems to have go back to sleep.

"Temple of Jareth you said? What so special about that temple?"

Bartholemu twiddles a copper piece across the top of his fingers while he observes the snake and shuffle, always attentitive to who has his cards in hand. If anyone would care to look at his tankard, they would be curious as to why it is so full. In fact, it doesn't look like it has been drained at all. "It is the cardplayer's sanctuary."

A silence falls as Jack gathers his coin. Fimbus breaks it with, "Did I tell you where I am from? Perhaps you've heard of it. The magnificent Fallon, City of Falls. Ah, 'tis a wonderful place, magic and beauty galore. My father, I told you about him, he's the greatest gemcutter in the whole city. And that's saying something, you know. It's a quite the city! And my grandfather, I never met him, but he was a great hero from the Kingdom of Medibaria." As he speaks, Fimble's eyes light up with pride and respect for his ancestors. "Aye, Fimbus Leyron Aukits Macklerey Gimmons... 'Tis quite a name to live up to. I have some big shoes to fill." He glances down at his shoes and sees that they're actually quite small. Blushing, he adds "Well, metaphorically speaking, that is." He laughs loudly and takes a polite drink from his mug of ale. He nods to Joe the barkeeper, expressing his approval.

"If you insist, mate," Jack replies nonchalantly. "My deal, is it? Same game, if you'd please."

Jack takes up the deck of cards, and makes an impressive display of shuffling as the cards fly between his agile fingers in a dizzying array. The juggling act concludes with four hands of cards spinning out onto the table, the cards of each hand neatly and evenly arranged before their respective players.

"Ante up." It's not long before Jack lays out on the table what he expects to be a winning hand. "Whaddya got?"

Bartholemu leans back in his chair and throws his cards in. "Not this hand, obviously."

Opale folds and finish her mug of ale. "Sorry, gentlemen, but your lady will withdraw from the game, that dwarven spirit is stronger than I thought. Good stuff, Joe. And so you can forgive me quitting the game so soon, I'll offer you each a mug of ale. Joe, 4 more mug, one for me, and one for each of these gentlemen."

Bartholemu picks up the cards. Shuffles and deals out a new game.

Surprising everyone, Yurith clears his throat behind the group. "I don’t mean to interrupt," he said in soft terms "but im afraid im not quite familiar with this card game. Could you be so kind as to explain to me?"

"On a warm summer’s evenin’ on a caravan bound for nowhere," Jack elucidates to the novice gambler, "I sat up with my Gammer--we were both too tired to sleep. So we took turns just staring out the wagon at the darkness until boredom overtook us, and she began to speak.

"She said, 'Kid, I’ve made a life out of reading people’s faces, and knowing what their cards were by the way they held their eyes. So if you don’t mind my saying, I can see you’re out of aces. For a taste of your whiskey I’ll give you some advice.'

"So, I handed her my bottle and she drank down my last swallow. Then, she bummed some pipeweed and asked me for a light. And the night got deathly quiet, and her face lost all expression. Said, 'If you’re going to play the game, boy, you've got to learn to play it right.'

"'You got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away and know when to run. You never count your money when you’re sitting at the table. There’ll be time enough for counting, when the dealing's done.'

"'Now every gambler knows that the secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep. Because every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser, and the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.'"

At the end of the story, Jack lays out another winning hand.

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