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Library: Encounter with AA and the Consoling Words of an Old Gambler


Author: noseglue
Date:Feb 12 2008

And there I stood. In front The Four Winds Inn. It was already late, well past
midnight, but I knew I had to get a drink. In my mind I thanked heavens that
this inn never closed its door. You could always get a pint of beer here, day
or night, rain or shine. And today I definitely needed one.

I had just learned a lesson. Painful one, I might add. And the thing that made
me feel even lousier was that I really got nobody to blame but myself and my
own stupidity. Well, back then I was young and I had still much to learn about
surviving in these harsh realms. 

For all year through I had saved money to achieve my greatest dream and goal.
I was to become an adventurer, hero, if you will! I knew that I wasn't yet
much of a fighter, but if only I could get my hands on a decent weapon, I
might be able to slay an orc or two! I had already taken some lessons in this
guild of fighters located in Batcity and I felt I had learned couple of nasty
tricks. But a good weapon was what I needed. 

This morning I wasn't going to believe my ears, when I heard the rumours. Some
champion from faraway lands had just arrived Batcity in the business of
selling some of the artefacts he had acquired from his travels. Some of the
women that had seen him entering the city whispered that he even possessed the
legendary mace that had once belonged to the notorious eleven lord, Despana. A
weapon famous of its superior quality and enchanted powers. A weapon that
would surely lead me to fame and glory!

Well I do not want to ponder in details, as remembering them is painful to me,
even after all these years. So Ill just tell you that I took all my money and
went to see that mighty adventurer. After a brief conversation he agreed to
sell me the mace, but insisted that I pay in advance. After all, I might be a
thief for all he knew. So I paid up, eager to get the weapon. But, alas! As
soon as he got the money, he gave me a mischievous grin, whispered some
strange gibberish ("xafe xyyqh..." something) and disappeared into the thin

I was left with nothing. All alone in the world, with no hope for better
future. Just a few copper coins in my pouch. 

With those last coins I ordered a pint of the strongest import beer from
Shadowkeep and half the bottle of the cheapest whiskey the inn keeper had, and
sat down to the corner table next to the window. The Inn was almost empty and
I believe I must have fallen asleep or at least I was so deep inside my
depressed thoughts that I got startled, when I heard a voice speaking to me.
The voice belonged to an old grey haired man, who seemed to be sitting at my
table but was looking out into the darkness from the window. After a moment he
turned towards me. His voice was very quiet, but the articulation was clear
and confident.

He spoke: 

"Son, Ive 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 dont mind my sayin', I can see youre out of aces.
For a taste of your whiskey I'll give you some advice."

His words took me by surprise, but something in him made me interested to hear
what he had to say. I passed him my bottle, which he drank down slowly and
quietly. After finishing the bottle, he took a deep breath, turned back to me
and started to talk.

"If youre gonna play the game, boy, ya gotta learn to play it right..."

"You got to know when to hold'em, know when to fold'em,
know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
Therell be time enough for countin' when the dealins' done."

"Now every gambler knows that the secret to survivin'
is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep. 
'Cause 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."

After the man had finished speaking he turned back to the window and didn't
seem to notice my company anymore. I realised that we were the last customers
and the place was dead quiet. I looked at my mysterious companion and it
seemed like he was slowly drifting asleep. I felt like I should say something,
but I could not find any words. And also the there was something magical in
the silence and I decided, it was better not to break it. So, quietly I
collected my belongings and left the inn.

I had no place to go and no money left. But somehow those words of that old
man had given me hope. At least things would not go any worse than they
already were and sooner or later my luck was bound to change. There would be
enough time for counting, when the dealing's done.

The world is full of possibilities. So what, if you are broke and can't afford
to buy decent equipments to become an adventurer. There were other options.
And as they say, fortune favours the brave! For one, I had heard rumours of
this secret guild, where people train deadly martial arts and were supposedly
able to make an ogre warrior fall with just a touch of their fingertips. A
friend of mine had said that their mysterious leader Akemi had been seen
nearby a while ago. The only thing was that she supposedly accepted
exclusively female followers.

Well, every problem has a solution. Another friend of mine was learning the
powers of healing as a novice with the people who worship the god Tarmalen,
and he was financing the studies by doing operations for those weirdoes who,
for some reason, wish to change their sex. Maybe I could ask him to do a
little "chop chop"!

ps. The words of old man taken from Kenny Rogers song The Gambler.
pps. The thief in the story still owes me the money he cheated back in -98.