Title: Rikard's Gamble
"The game is dead-eyed molly," Rikard sat at the table with a pair of dice balanced on the back of his left hand and smiled as he emptied a pouch of its gold into a large wooden bowl at the table centre. "And the buy in is ten gold royals."
"Not a farmer's game tonight." Franz of Armstead dropped in a pair of Thyatian Platinum pieces into the pot instantly raising eyebrows. "Found them in the mud under the docks on Fogor Isle. Just the two." At the suggestion of freely availiable coins a few patrons slipped out through the door into the night.
"And there go half your patrons." Leaf Beatenbow laughed at the desperation of men as he dropped ten gold coins of varying nations into the bowl. "My gold is as good as any."
"I'll be representing the farming guild tonight Tavern-master Rikard." Farmer Miklos surrendered a mix of gold coins to the bowl belonging to various owners currently crowded in the room. "If you dont mind us buying in."
"I take anyone's gold," Tomin Creary deposited his coins. "so long as they are offering."
"Sorry I'm late." Eben Rhily smiled, pulling up a chair as his gold coins dropped in the bowl. " I believe my gold makes the pot sixty."
Everyone nodded and stared at Rikard expectantly as he lifted the dice and dropped them across the table.
"House rolls first." Rikard swore as the dice settled on a pair of 'ones'. "Dead-eyed molly."
"I'm next." Franz retrieved the dice and invoked a blessing as he unleashed the dice. A safe roll and franz breathed a sigh of relief allowing the elf at the table to claim the dice. "No cursed dice tonight."
"I am a leaf on the wind." Leaf rolled the clay destriders across the wood only to watch the second pair of 'ones' appear for the evening. "And a dead leaf it is."
"Dead-eyed molly." Farmer Miklos rolled his turn and smiled at having remained in the game. "Cheer up, I hear Elves live forever."
"Not so Farmer." Tomin rolled safe. "That would be dragons."
"You are both wrong." Eben Rhily rolled safe. "Only the Immortals live forever."
"Wrong on all counts." Franz reached across the table for the dice and dropped them again for a safe roll. "Anyone hear of the Rain of Fire?"
"I heard a Story written by a dragon." Miklos rolled safe. "It ended with...and the sky burned with infernal rain and all the kingdoms fell."
"I heard a kobold rhyme. There was a Dragon Egg so dark and evil, he ruled the world without hatching." Tomin rolled safe. "and something...I forget the rest...but it mentions a bad rain."
"Pity." Eben Rhily rolled safe. "It sounded interesting."
"Hah!" Franz rolled a one and four. "Not as interesting as me winning."
"T'is interesting though." Miklos a one and five. "these different tales of a rain of fire."
"Not relevent at the moment though." Tomin rolled a six and two and smiled at his fortune.
"I hear Bargle was seen near Threshold."
"Lets not curse the dice with talk of that villain shall we." Eben rolled two and two and looked at Tomin. "The last thing we need is to start rolling pairs."
"Indeed." Franz winced at the rather close call of a two and a one. "They punched through into a forgotten dungeon beneath the Tarnskeep."
"Bloody dungeons are everywhere." Miklos rolled a four and three. "Can hardly dig in a field without falling through into one."
"So," A one and two tumbled from Tomin's hand. "what did they find under Tarnskeep?"
"Probably undead." The group looked at Eben as though he had spat on lady Aleena as his five and three settled on the table. "What?"
"They found a stairs going down." a pair of ones appeared from Franz's roll. "Bugbear shit!"
"That's dead-eyed molly to you." Miklos fetched up the dice and released them on the table for a pair of sixes. "shit."
"Nasty." Tomin rolled a pair of two. "looks like its catching."
"Lets hope not." Eben rolled a four and three. "You were saying you cant dig a field without finding a dungeon."
"Aye. Vigo across the river broke through into one just this morning." Two and two. "Got him self a nice stone cellar now."
"Any doors or stairs?" Tomin dropped a four and six. "Might be worth a look in the morning."
"Beware!" Eben said the word in a scary voice rolling a four and one, drawing the gaze of every superstitious man in the room. "Sorry."
"Didnt have any doors." A pair of ones reduced the number of players to two. "Bitch."
"Dead-eyed molly," A five and three granted Tomin another chance. "Thats her name."
"I might be up for exploring a dungeon." a one and four spared Eben from poverty. "How about you?"
"Pass me the damn dice!" Tomin Creary eyed the pot filled with the wages of several men who had gone home penniless this evening as his hand closed around the dice dropped into his palm. "If you think I am going home penniless like those poor sods you are in for a rude surprise."
"Come on my lovely!" Tomin unleashed the contents of his hand and the ceramic dice tumbled across the heavy timber table jarring and flipping against the edges of its uneven timbers until they halted, each a single upward facing mark.
"Dead-eyed molly!" The voice of his sole remaining opponent exploded with joy at the victory. Eben Rhily smiled and reached out across the table for his winnings. "Thank you gentlemen for a lovely evening."
"Not quite yet Rhily." Tomin reached into the folds of his cloak and pulled a piece of paper from the hidden pocket that had kept it safe tossing it on the winnings. "One more hand."
"What might that be when its not being a scrap of paper then?" Eben considered the scrap of paper. It was old. Thats all he could tell as he reached out to examine it.
"Its a title deed to some land." Tomin grabbed Eben's hand preventing him from touching the document. "The dice." Tomin pulled his hand free and considered the man. He could very well be bluffing. That sort of thing had happened before and it always ended in violence when the bluff was exposed.
"All right." Eben picked up the dice and allowed them to tumble from the palm of his hand across the table, his eyes fixed on the man across from him until they no longer made the characteristic sound of dice on wood. His opponent gritted his teeth indicating Eben's winnings were safe. "Your roll I believe."
"Best not get too settled Rhily," Tomin retrieved the dice and with a spill of his hand dropped the dice getting a good roll. "I never loose my land."
"I have enjoyed a winning streak all night." Safe. "You on the other hand have lost once already."
"The only way is up." Tomin rolled a five and four. "and you are due a comeuppance."
"Perhaps," Eben rolled a three and a one. "but not tonight."
"I know so." Tomin rolled a one and two. "Your roll."
"Matter of time." Eben rolled a four and two. "just a matter of time."
"Still," a pair of fives tumbled from Tomin's hand. "Vigo's cellar is a thought."
"Agreed." three and one landed on the table. "We can take a look after I win."
"You mean after I win." A pair of ones and the game was over. "Damn."
"Dead-eyed molly." Eben snatched up the land title and unfolded it. The Seal of Baron Sherlane declared the holder of the paper owner of fifty acres north of Lake Windrush including an old stone barn. "Bloody Hel, thats a good piece of land."
"Aye." Tomin already felt the loss. "It is."
"Drinks to my good fortune Tavern-Master!" Eben dumped a handful of his winnings in front of Rikard and began dumping the remaining coins in an empty pouch.
"Drinks all round it is." The crowded tavern cheered at the prospect of a free drink as Rikard got to his feet and headed for the bar.
"Well then gentlemen." Eben leaned forward across the table. "It seems we can investigate this doorless stone cellar of Farmer Miklos's aquaintance at sunrise, move on to exploring these stairs discovered below Tarnskeep if the Baron is of a mind to allow us after lunch, and retire for the evening to my fine stone barn north of Windrush with a mind to camp out under the stars and cook some fish." Eben looked across their faces. "What say you?"
"Aye!" They nodded in unison rapping the table top, and Franz smiled as the singing mood washed over him.
"I knew a lass named molly." Leaf next. "but she had naught but eyes for you." Miklos took the third line. "A cruel love if ever there was," Tomin took the fourth line. "as she took your gold and flew." A thunderous aplause rose from the patrons drowning the tavern.
"Now," Rikard dropped drinks on the table as Eben noticed a problem. "How do we get across the river?"