Open [Open Sky Market] Games Aplenty (Alric)

Tazrae steps outside her comfort zone to find some games for her Inn in Syka.

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[Open Sky Market] Games Aplenty (Alric)

Postby Tazrae on November 5th, 2021, 3:09 pm

Timestamp: 11th of Fall, 521 A.V.


Tazrae had in essence given herself the day off. That wasn’t something she did often nor did she want to make a habit of it. However, there was shopping to be done that she couldn’t exactly do in Riverfall without giving Captain James a lengthy list and then waiting for him to return with the goods on his seasonal voyages to Riverfall. The young Innkeeper had been to the Outpost before and had enjoyed the visit. However, she’d found the climate unseasonably dry compared to her jungle home which was always a degree of moist.

Slipping on thick-soled sandals, a short-cropped sleeveless tunic, and a full vibrant skirt, Tazrae tied her mass of caramel-colored curls back with a matching scarf and checked her appearance in the mirror. She slipped on a belt pouch that contained her coin and slung a backpack over her shoulder that was of a matching brown leather material the same as her belt. She checked to make sure her armband and charm bracelet was secure. A swirling gemstone necklace was fastened around her neck and left to lay above her collarbone. She dabbed a bit of perfume on, then quickly exited the room she was currently occupying and slipped down the steps to the cobbled pathway that lead through Syka.

It took her almost no time to get to the Dovecote at a brisk walk and from there she passed through it to The Outpost where a nice gentleman handed her a map. She offered him a smile in thanks then Taz halted at the momentary taste of magic and the change from the rich moist air to the dry scorching hot breezeless atmosphere. Taz paused a few moments to get her bearings, studied the map, and then set off across the courtyard towards the market where she’d been hoping to shop.

The Outpost was a wonder to Tazrae. The elegant stone pathways and the buildings that rose all over the place all seemed somehow organic as if they flowed out of the ground and rose up like fresh-hewn geometric stalactites. Taz enjoyed the walk, first through the major courtyards, past gardens, and exotic vendors selling foods of all sorts. The Outpost flowed in multiple directions, with walkways carrying people throughout the place like veins and arteries carry blood throughout one’s body. It was a place of leisure and decadence. The stores outside the bazaar were seductive, luring people in trying to entice them with their wares. Taz was immune for the most part, her mind not on gems or fine cloth, but looking for something a little bit more selective.

She passed by water gardens, wove in and out of other courtyards until she finally reached the Open Sky Bazaar. The entrance was grand, like arms are thrown open welcoming the visitors. Keiss walked here and there, patrolling… the armless shirts and long flowing skirts the men wore strange to Tazrae’s eyes. They bristled with weapons, but the sight of them didn’t cause her fear. Instead, they were strangely reassuring to her as they strolled about on patrol – easy expressions on their faces.

A breeze teased her caramel-colored curls as she randomly chose a path and started down it, looking for something specific and not sure where to find it. Tazrae stopped when she accidentally moved into the large animal market section, gazing into a pen that held giant riding lizards – Ixam - much like her own Bree. She was surprised to see the variety of types and coloration. And at that moment, Taz thought she should have brought Bree along, if for nothing else so the Ixam could see her own kind again.

Walking on, Taz found herself in a section of the market that housed fabrics and cloth of all sorts. She found herself drawn to such things, though she didn’t know how to hold a needle at all. The young Innkeeper couldn’t sew a stitch, but she found herself buying yards of bright light fabric for people in Syka she knew that might appreciate the bounty. The captain who supplied most of Syka was a good man, but all the cloth in the Mercantile in Syka was his responsibility and he almost always picked sturdy oilskin that would both shed rain and protect from snakebite. The delicate flowing fabric was not easy to come by. And yet, here was a whole bazaar full of it. Each purchase Tazrae made she tucked carefully into her backpack, which held all the bundles of cloth neatly, seemingly taking up no room at all.

She browsed booths with kitchen supplies in them… brightly polished pots and pans and even heavy ceramic dishes that were meant to bake in. There were booths full of cooking cauldrons and booths just for weapons of all kinds. Tazrae eyed these sorts of places respectfully but did not linger. She was hunting something more specialized.

When she found the booth holding decks of cards she paused. This was far closer to what she was looking for. There were playing cards of all sorts, cards to read one’s future, and cards to meditate too… something called gratitude decks. The seller also had dice – a multitude of them – and games designed around dice. It was a little overwhelming to the Innkeeper who had simple things in mind to stock a singular shelf in the main room of her Inn… a shelf for guests to entertain themselves from.

“I’ve never seen so many cards in one place in my life.” She commented to no one in particular. “Nor have I seen this large of a selection of dice. How in the world does one choose?” She asked, looking about to see if there were any games that came with instructions or decks that had pamphlets or little books that sold with them. The vendor had eyed her suspiciously when she’d walked up, but after getting a clear look at her, the man had clearly decided she was no light finger ready to pluck delicate wares from his booth without paying.

And as she stood looking at the vast selection while another customer made a purchase from the booth, her uncertainty grew. What would her clients like to do on those stormy nights or to escape a bell-long rain shower that fell almost like clockwork morning and evening? The truth was, Tazrae wasn’t a game player. She’d never played many cards or diced many dice games. She didn’t know which were fun for adults, for children, or for adults that were drinking and just passing time.

So Tazrae looked around for anyone that looked like they might know more than she did about the topic, which of course meant anyone.

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[Open Sky Market] Games Aplenty (Alric)

Postby Alric Lysane on November 5th, 2021, 5:04 pm

He was starting to regret bringing his cloak given the warmth that the Outpost possessed but he persevered, throwing it over his shoulders so as to keep as cool as he possibly could but still losing the battle slowly. It was raining back in Sunberth and he was fairly sure he would need it. Besides which it had become a kind of part of him over the seasons, an old friend that had kept him safe and hidden many times. He had repaired it so often that he was not sure it was the same cloak anymore but still…it had a certain sentimental value. Even so surrounded by the throng and heat of a hundred or more bodies his brow had started to glisten.

Scratching his beard and trying to stay away from others bumping into him and walking away with his miza – old habits died hard – he had made his way through the Open Sky Bazaar many times over now. He was half-certain he was lost but had yet to admit it to himself fully and give up. So instead he had spent the past Bell simply circling, eyeing the items of offer and feeling a sense of loss at the ones he liked that he could never hope to afford.

Wealth, it seemed, was relative and the Outpost had been an eye opener for him. Looking at the guards and merchant from many lands he felt sure that they would have a good chance of scouring the scum that were Sunberth’s gangs from the very ground itself. Not that they would go easily, or that the citizens would allow it easily either. Still what he had been told was an average merchant here would be considered a well off one back home. He wondered if Sunberth could become a pirate city if they got their act together.

No…of course not. Too much authority in one set of hands. Bound to be abused…and stopped before it ever happened. Besides who in Sunberth would be a pirate on the sea when they’ve got a jungle all to themselves he mused to himself.

He decided to stand still and simply watch for a time. He had started to learn the names of races that he had not known before, though their cultures and customs were still unknown. But he could recognise a Symenestra here and a Konti there. It helped him feel a little more at ease that he was a bit surer of footing in the Outpost now. Outsiders they might be but they had many nice things that he wished he could relieve them of. He licked his lips and watched a trio of guards pass by and eye him up along the way.

He sighed. He hated rules but he knew suicide when he saw it and so content himself with continuing his browsing. After a span of time, he knew not how long, he found himself at a more interesting store. He might even be able to afford some of the items too, he noted to himself. A gambling and games store it reminded him of a cleaner Tall Johnny’s, or at least half of Tall Johnny’s. What caught his eye in particular though was the beauty that arrived a while after he had began browsing. He couldn’t help but stare for a little while as she looked at what was on offer and seemed a tad unsure of what she wanted. He was no expert, but he had played scores of games in his time and beauty was something rare enough in Sunberth that it was worth the risk of approaching an outsider.

Suddenly he felt quite roughly and dirtily dressed for this different kind of gold on legs. His cloak notwithstanding he wore pretty much the only clothes he owned and though he kept them clean they were far from presentable. About the only thing his victims ever remembered about him was his dishevelled appearance – a fact that he was quite happy with…usually.

“Dice are easiest to learn but also easiest to lose your money with,” he said with his best smile, “though if you have never played before I take that back and would challenge you to a game. If you are in the business for games, of course”
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[Open Sky Market] Games Aplenty (Alric)

Postby Tazrae on November 5th, 2021, 5:31 pm

The young woman smiled immediately, her facial expression open and welcoming. She took a moment to study the stranger that had walked up and studied the goods along side her and noted the way he was dressed and how warm his cloak must have been by the way he had it set over his shoulder. “The dry hot air here takes some getting used too, doesn’t it?” She remarked casually. Tazrae wasn’t put off by his appearance. He looked like a hard-working time worn person that lived by his hands and had survived more than most had seen. He was used to putting people at ease, she suspected, because his smile was overbright and friendly. But his comment wasn’t leading or lewd, so the Innkeeper didn’t mind returning it in kind.

“That’s good to know. I came here today for such a simple thing really… but it seems its only simple because I gave it no thought. I had no clue what sort of selection was available here. I have a shelf at my place I had hoped to fill with an assortment of games. I was thinking checkers and dice and perhaps a few decks of cards or other things I might not have heard about. But I’ve rarely played games in my life and I have no idea what is suitable to folks trapped inside by the rains wishing to pass a bell or two at leisure.” She said thoughtfully.

Tazrae was well-spoken in an educated sort of manner, though it would not be hard to tell that she also lacked a street-hardness that hinted at a gentle upbringing. She turned to scan the shelves again, gesturing at the cards and dice. “Do you have a favorite game of dice or cards? Or have you played enough to know what is easy to learn for most travelers and what would pass the time in an afternoon waiting for the rains to pass?” She asked, then flushed slightly, throwing him an apologetic look.

“I know it seems out of the blue. I just… “ She started to say something else and then shook her head. “I’m from Syka. Almost no one knows where it is. But it’s a little settlement on the edge of warm turquoise waters and white sandy beaches on the west side of the Suvan Sea. It’s backed by the dense jungles of Falyndar. There’s not a lot to do there besides tour the jungle or play on the sand, but travelers still come and because it is a rainforest, it rains a great deal there briefly keeping people inside. I had hoped to find a selection of things to keep travelers busy with idle time… things to supplement food and drink, of course.” She added, looking thoughtful and glancing again at the games selections.

“I’m Tazrae.” She said, not at all shy in the least. As her job as an Innkeeper, it was up to her to make conversation. Taz boldly met his blue eyes with her own of the same color. He could have been Svefra, she decided immediately, though he wasn’t dressed as a sailor nor did he have the windblown and sun-bleached look of a man that lived upon Laviku’s graces. His hair was too dark, as if the sun didn’t see much of it, and his clothing was more designed to blend in than stand out. The Svefra were bold in their color choices and borderline gawdy in their jewelry. He appeared to suffer neither affliction. And for that, Taz offered him yet another smile.

“If you can kindly suggest some games, perhaps you’d let me treat you to a meal or a drink?” She offered. She wasn’t near a stove and couldn’t mix up a cocktail for him, but that was always her first inclination as a hostess to see to it that someone was fed and had a refreshing drink in their hands… especially if they were all about doing her a favor.

The girl reached up, snagged a wayward caramel curl and tucked it behind her ear as she returned to scanning the games all proudly on display in the booth. Her eyes lingered on the cards of fortune…. a neat sign labeled them ‘tarot’. “I wonder if people would like fortune cards as well….” She added almost as an afterthought before glancing at him again to gauge his reaction.

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[Open Sky Market] Games Aplenty (Alric)

Postby Alric Lysane on November 5th, 2021, 6:39 pm



The lass was definitely not from anywhere Alric knew, he knew that before she even mentioned where she had come from. She spoke very well indeed and seemed to take his helpfulness with easy acceptance, if not expectation. Yet she put him at ease where in Sunberth that would be a screaming signal to run. There was no threat or concern, just that extra layer of a certain something. Truth be told he didn’t really approach people like this unless he was expecting to rob them. It felt strange to be around someone without robbing them, or attempting to at least, a half dozen times across half as many streets.

But…something about her made him not want to even if he could. An almost unique occurrence that he would ponder at a later time he felt sure. Perhaps she was just a people person, he reasoned, he had known many over the years. Yes, he put her in that category as she spoke, and he listened and watched.

“I am not sure I will ever get used to it but I’d rather be hot here than…well cold and rain where I come from but still the company is better here anyway so we take the rough with the smooth” he said simply, it was true enough.
He had wondered since finding the Outpost if he should even stay in Sunberth. Well…not for very long perhaps but still. The weather helped fend him off for now at least.

“You deal with travellers?” he asked, his mind making the connections and coming up with a few possibilities and going with one, “an inn then perhaps?” it was a reasonable guess, he knew who she reminded him of now – the likes of Lana and Merv, in her own way.

“Alric, my name is Alric,” he decided to go with truth, he saw no reason not to, “and I like many games. I don’t claim to be an expert but I guess it depends on what you’re wanting to do. From what you’re saying this isn’t a gambling thing so money isn’t really at stake…which makes a lot of them a lot more safer” he said, scratching his chin thoughtfully and looking at the wares on display once more.

It was strange, being asked what someone might do for recreation. Mostly people in Sunberth did things for advantage, profit or both. He didn’t know many people who did something purely for recreation, not in the gambling and gaming parts of the city anyway. Still for some reason he didn’t really want to let her down, so he thought, likely quicker than he had thought in some time if he were honest with himself.

“Dice are still good, so long as you keep a check on any arguments that might come up. Ugly thing losing miza and someone disagreeing. Still, they’re unpredictable and so addictive and you can learn a lot about someone with them. Easy to cheat with though, but you’d know your people better than I,” he said with a half smile, “cards are fine but a bit more complex and the decks can get ripped or damaged a lot. So if you’ve got the ability to replace them often enough then they’re well liked. Some games require a set table though…or at least they do where I come from. If you’re wanting longer games for rain storms you’re first instinct was good – chess and checkers. My advice though…always be able to beat any smart mouth who can challenge you, people who play them can be quite…competitive” he snorted at the memories of games long now gone, the people too. That thought brought a touch of sadness to his eyes before he dismissed it and continued.

“My favourite game though is Nine Men’s Morris…let me see if they’ve a board here…hmm….ah yes, that’s the one,” he gestured to a board off to the side for her to look at, “though not many would play it over chess of checkers. Harder to learn and more annoying so probably not your easy fare. I did used to play chess…a long time ago now” he said, not really knowing why he said it as it was a memory he had long buried, along with his past.

“Skya sounds nice. I had never heard of it but if it’s nice and relaxing perhaps I will visit one day. I come from…a different kind of jungle I suppose,” he said, meeting her gaze and feeling the smile ripple through him quite nicely, “a place where I prefer to make my own luck. Fortune Telling is nice…for a few silvers. I’ve never been given a fortune that made sense to me, which probably is the idea in Sunberth. No…fortune and I have a different arrangement. Not that others can’t partake…I just never thought the odds ever stacked in my favour” he grinned then, it was actually true and he had thought about it many times.

If fortune cards could tell my life I’d have conquered the city by now from what I’ve been promised here and there! he thought to himself. He noted that her eyes were much like his, a rarity in Sunberth and that was perhaps a more meaningful sign of fate than any card reading, though he did not voice it.

“In truth though such cards are only as good as the one’s wielding them, no matter what you believe. If you have the gift then why not make the most of what you’re given?” he asked her, eyeing her to see if the philosophy of this Syka was similar.

“I’d not say no to something to eat and drink, though I’m not sure that that is fair trade for simple words. Have you ever played any of these games? Perhaps we could play…at least you’d know a few games then to teach…or pretend that you have mastered?” he asked.


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[Open Sky Market] Games Aplenty (Alric)

Postby Tazrae on November 7th, 2021, 5:35 pm

Taz was perhaps a tad bit stupid for striking up a conversation with a perfect stranger. But her whole job in life – one she’d chosen – was to make strangers feel like family and to put them at ease in new and potentially dangerous situations. She thought of herself as a guidepost to leisurely fun which she seasoned with just enough caution to keep people alive in Syka when they were crazy enough to visit the place. Here, while vastly different, had its similarities. And evidently, while she was woefully ignorant on the subject of gaming, this man seemed far more experienced.

She would have just asked the keeper of the booth, but the man was momentarily drawn into what Tazrae suspected was one of his favorite pastimes – haggling over the price of something – with a customer. She couldn’t see the item, but the pair had their heads together and were full out completely involved in the art of negotiation. She could tell by both the look on the booth owner's face and the other customer that they were both having a good time.

“I don’t like the cold either.” She said agreeably, responding to Alric’s idle comment… and was that a flirtation? Taz could never be certain. The young Innkeeper tended to miss social cues like that because her mind was rarely focused on such things. “In Syka, it rains often, but it’s a warm rain that no one minds because it doesn’t last long and often is one of the most refreshing times of the day.” She added. “Though when I lived in Riverfall… where I was born…. the winter rains came and everyone avoided being outside. They’d chill you to the bone if you got even the slightest bit of wet.” The woman said, offering him a smile. “Back home… we don’t wear much because of the humidity unless you are headed to the jungle proper. Our clothes get soaked in the rain anyhow, and everyone wants them to dry quickly in the sun. Our footwear of choice is bare feet.” She added the example while studying him as he looked over the games thinking deeply. She appreciated the more experienced gentleman taking the time to offer some advice.

Her smile brightened then… when he made his guest as to her profession. “Yes! An Innkeeper, though… you might not consider it a proper Inn since it just has six guest rooms, but we barter more than trade coin so my plans to expand to something larger is going slowly.” She added. “Good guess.” She complimented. “I serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner too if people are hungry and want to eat. I love to cook. In the middle of nowhere, you need to wear a lot of hats and be a lot of different things.” Taz added.

“Nice to meet you Alric. I’m glad our paths crossed. Otherwise, this seller would probably try to sell me one of each.” She said, gesturing to the games spread out before them laughing a little, though he got the impression she was more laughing at herself than any perceived ‘sell ups’ the owner of the booth might be of a mind to initiate.

“So dice…” She nodded, making a mental checklist out loud and picking up a set that was bound together in what looked like a wooden shaker cup. The dice came in a multitude of colors, so she selected a blue set and a red set and tucked them into the crook of her arm. “I doubt I could spot cheating. I’ve never actually seen someone play with dice.” She added, her emphasis on the wordplay as if the fact people made dice their livelihood and a huge source of their income was completely beyond her comprehension. “I am good at redirecting potential arguments though. You’d be surprised what mixing up someone a drink or putting a plate of food under their nose would do to distract bad feelings or irritable people.” It was true she had a philosophy that bordered on ‘if in doubt, feed someone’.

He offered advice and she looked perplexed. “I have no idea how to play to be able to challenge anyone. Do you know how?” She asked, her face an open book revealing a whirling mind and further plotting. He saw her select a rather nice checker set and tuck it under her arm with the dice. The chess sets would take a bit more selecting because they came in all shapes and sizes with various themes. And they were some very expensive and some very cheap. He saw her immediately skip over the expensive sets, either for lack of funds or because she had a lack of knowledge enough to own something beautiful like the seller provided. But she didn’t study the cheap sets for more than a moment either. Tazrae’s eyes lingered on a rather plain but well-made wooden chess set that was not themed but had very well worked pieces by at least someone mildly gifted in wood carving. He knew she’d buy it before they left the booth, though she made no move to pick it up.

“Nine Men’s Morris?” She asked, and then watched him look around and gesture at a selection of boards. “Why is it your favorite?” She asked, curious. Taz well knew that people were as diverse as jungle flowers and not all of their tastes would run to chess or checkers as well. She wondered if the games came with a parchment outlining rules and instructions? She hoped they did, for she was starting to feel woefully ignorant talking to this man. He had obviously gamed a time or two in his life.

Alric spoke on about fortune-telling and she nodded. Taz had never had her fortune read either. She’d had a Goddess tell her a destiny once though… and wondered if that counted. Guardian. Protector. Tender of Divine Gardens… it was probably nothing the stranger would care about. She was overlooked for the callouses on her hands and the ‘I’ll do it myself, thank you…’ attitude Tazrae tended to wear through life like another set of clothing she used to protect herself from those that felt she was weak or could not do something.

“I’ve never touched a deck of…. Tarot.” She said, hesitating over the word written on the display of fortune cards since it was unfamiliar to her. “Nor have I had a fortune told to me via cards.” The young Innkeeper added. But that didn’t mean she wasn’t interested and curious as to the mechanism involved. How did cards speak the future? She had no idea, but was a curious sort by nature. It was definitely something to study. Reaching out, Tazrae selected a random deck of Tarot from the little display. They were spendy, being hand-drawn and painted on special paper that was harder than parchment... almost wood-like. But she did not often come to The Outpost and nor did she have much to spend her spare coin on in Syka. So, it was worth the splurge.

She smiled. “I like company and meeting new people, and since I visit here infrequently or not at all, it’s a rare pleasure to have someone to share a meal with and ask the advice of. I meant what I said, though it's odd buying someone a meal. I’m far more used to heading to the kitchen and making it myself. And no… sadly… most of these are things I’ve never played before. The only thing I know is checkers and something called poker, which my father used to play with me a lot.” She added, slipping in a deck of plain playing cards to the crook of her arm with the rest of the stash.

“Besides, I’ve heard a lot of people that are here are not actually from here, but from somewhere else. Tell me, Alric, if you walk through the dovecote, where do you end up?” She said, her eyes alight with curiosity. She had a real shaky working knowledge of geography. Born in Riverfall she knew the places around there… Endrykas the great moving city…. Syliras, the capital to the north, but everywhere else was pretty unknown to her though she’d once heard stories of a spider city in Falyndar that no one she knew had ever been to.

At that point, she walked over to where the booth owner had finished his haggling and had sent the satisfied previous customer on their way. She nodded at her pile and then tipped her chin to include the chessboard he’d caught her eyeing earlier and one of the nine men’s morris games that were of suitable quality for a small guest Inn.

Not unlike the previous buyer, Taz wasn’t shy about negotiating and settled in for a back and forth with the owner until they both came to a reasonable price for all the things in her pile. She paid the man and slipped everything with an odd lack of struggle into her backpack – everything except the chessboard – which the owner wrapped up in cheap cotton cloth – and handed to the girl.

She turned back to Alric then. “It was suggested to me that the Courtyard Cantina has great food. Would you like to try there or is there someplace else you’d prefer?” Taz asked, fully intending to pay for the man’s advice by buying him a meal and a drink. “I bet someplace like that wouldn’t bat an eyelash if we played a game or two over our meals.” She mused out loud, a smile once more crossing her face.

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[Open Sky Market] Games Aplenty (Alric)

Postby Alric Lysane on November 7th, 2021, 8:59 pm



There was a certain something about Tazrae that was difficult to pinpoint precisely. Perhaps it was because he had never experienced someone quite like her in the mud and grime of the streets. He was inclined towards calling it softness but then again she didn’t seem like she shirked hard work from what she had said so far and she seemed strong enough in her form. Gentleness, perhaps, then again he had only just met her so it was largely speculation. But when she smiled it was as if she were an old friend, warm and inviting.

Perhaps that was it and was why she had decided to own an inn? She had found her calling and had stuck to it, something Alric admired and envied of true. He did choke slightly before turning it into a clearing of the throat as she spoke of their customs and knew at the moment that she was definitely unique as far as the people he knew.

I’m not sure I’d have the guts to do that let alone cause a sensation with how she looks he told himself emphatically. No, she clearly did not lack courage this one.

“It sounds like a…wonderful and unusual place this Skya. I’m not sure that I’d have the courage to walk around without clothing, though I suppose I’d make a saving on clothing costs at the very least. Riverfall sounds a little more like my home, though perhaps not quite as cold. We can still walk the streets even if we don’t really want to. I haven’t heard of either of these places, it begs the question how many other places there are. As for me I’m from Sunberth, free city of anarchy” he said, a certain sliver of pride in his voice.

Despite the luxuries around them in the Outpost he still had a soft spot for the city of his birth and its denizens, scraping against all the odds and often knowing the odds were stacked against them. A special type of stubborn nature.

He listened for a time as she described what she did and likely outlined what an average day was for her in Syka. He had to admit that it sounded peaceful and fulfilling for her. Certainly, she became more animated and flashed that smile more as the subject cropped up. He hadn’t meant to create such an outpouring with a simple guess which made him realise, upon reflection, that she had clearly found her role in life. He had only recently started to wonder what his might be, or even think that he might have one. She was lucky that she had presumably found hers.

He watched her as she set about selecting items and tucking them in her arm, dice cups and checkers he noticed. He nodded with approval without thinking, they were good choices and simple enough to both teach and learn. The games were almost endless too he had heard though most tended to stick to a handful and even travellers knew them even if they had their own quirky rules. He noticed her gaze linger upon a chess set that seemed simple compared to many of the others. It reminded him of the one that his father had had long ago. Even down to the pieces that seemed carved with love more than skill – though he’d be the first to admit he was no carver. About as close as he got to such things was selling them.

“You make it sounds as if I could turn up with an argument and walk away with a meal. You are the most forgiving hostess I’ve met. Skya sounds more pleasant by the chime,” as for the games yes I’ve played a few in my time. Not sure if they’re played everywhere but they’re simple enough to play. Dice especially so. I like Nine Men’s Morris because it is more about learning who you are playing than playing the game. How they think, predicting their moves…it’s a challenge. One that doesn’t risk much more than pride and some miza”

As she picked up the Tarot it was as if she were exploring it, as if she had wanted to do so for a while, he thought, but he made no conclusion. Perhaps she was just curious about it, or felt that it could help her chart the course of her life. Why she would feel the need for it was lost upon him given that from her words she seemed to live a blessed life.

“Difficulties of expansion aside it sounds as if you live a blessed life Tazrae, I can’t imagine that fortune doesn’t smile upon you,” he said, looking at her directly and with sincerity, “but I suppose that learning to interpret the divine would help bring future prosperity. At times I do wonder what they have planned I must admit”

The rest went smoothly enough, she settled her business and picked up a few more games for her inn. It seemed as if her proficiency in packing was as well developed as he haggling skills he noted as he watched her put it all into a bag that seemed too small for it all. He picked up his own dice cup and dice, a simple affair compared to what Tazrae had picked up but it would suit him well enough. He was aware he was from humble means and saw no reason to pretend otherwise.

“Sounds like a good place to visit, better to be somewhere lively and loose than stuffy and noses pointed upward. Much more fun” he agreed, settling into a shared pace with her.

Once they had arrived at the Cantina, the journey equal parts watching the scenery with interest and small conversation he took a moment to look over their new destination, which was the strangest eating place he had seen so far but it seemed in the Outpost that was going to be a repeat occurrence.

“Tell me Tazrae, you say that your inn might not be considered one because of size but it sounds pretty big by my standards and you’re getting them games and talking about expansion…and you being the lovely owner and all…well I suppose I’m asking what would be considered big then? Does Riverfall or Skya have even larger places?” he asked, curiosity rising once more.

He wondered whether she would mind pipe smoke, he recalled Moritz and his admonishment and that he smelled for it. He didn’t really want such a beautiful woman to walk away thinking about how he stank, but it was difficult to resist the urge to relax with a good puff or two. He settled for settling himself, draping his cloak across his chair and putting the pouch and pipe on the table beside him not in use. He pulled at his shirt, somewhat stuck to his skin now and was reminded with a slight sense of shame that he was quite poorly dressed. Nothing he could do abut it now but he did undo the top few strings of his shirt to let in some breeze. His fingers idly toyed with the ring around his neck for a few moments as he smiled at her opposite him before letting it drop.

Who’d have thought I’d ever be doing this? he mused to himself. He placed an order for the sharer platter, it seemed only right that her treat should also include her. Hostess as she was he knew that often they were forgotten by their visitors. He couldn’t speak for Skya but people were people in his experience. He hoped she did not mind him jumping in with it but it had been some time since he had eaten.

“And you said Syka was jungle? Did you then buy an inn that was already there? And moreover, which game would you like to play?” he asked, leaning back with a grin as he rolled up his sleeves.





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Alric Lysane
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[Open Sky Market] Games Aplenty (Alric)

Postby Tazrae on November 7th, 2021, 10:16 pm

He was easy to talk to, that much Tazrae was certain of. She wondered if that was because he didn’t have an ounce of polish and wasn’t pretentious at all. The man hadn’t done a single bit of bragging since their conversation had started. Alric felt like he simply was who he was and that he was comfortable in his own skin. She could appreciate that. It wasn’t much different from her own outlook on life, truth be told. Lies meant one had to keep up with the tall tales. Bragging meant one had to back up the words with actions which weren’t always easy. Easy was just being who you were without apology and that was something Taz could relate to.

“Talk about courage….” Tazrae laughed. “I felt like a fish out of water for half a season… maybe the whole of summer when I stepped off the boat. It certainly wasn’t like Riverfall where a male could get executed just for looking at a female that didn’t belong to him the wrong way. Fathers and Akalaks alike were very protective… and I was raised with my parents believing they would sell me to the highest breeding bidder when I was of age ‘for my own good’. The Akalak culture demanded it. But Syka was a pleasant escape so I adapted, slowly and painfully…. And now I’m used to it. Believe me, everyone feels overdressed now and it's not a big deal.” She said truthfully. “Unless you venture in the jungle, then you have to dress for everything there trying to kill you… which is about the opposite of the beach.” She threw in, just so he wasn’t under the illusion that Syka was a paradise without its own troubles.

“I haven’t heard of Sunberth… it must be very far from where I live. I’m afraid my geographical knowledge is limited to mainly the cluster cities around the Suvan Sea.” She said carefully, not wanting him to think her ignorant, though that’s exactly what she was. “Anarchy? Isn’t that utter lawlessness?” She said, a tinge of concern in her voice. “How exactly does that work?” She asked to pause to give him a chance to answer.

The conversation moved on and she paid for her purchases. The walk was pleasant to The Cantina, which Tazrae navigated to with Alric’s help and the help of the map the man had given her at the Dovecote. The cantina itself wasn’t hard to find, once they’d found their way out of the Open Sky Bazaar. Taz had insisted they stop a time or two as she’d purchased this or that – mostly gifts she said – for people back home. Nothing was fancy or expensive, but rather thoughtful or incredibly useful as one would imagine would be appreciated in what Tazrae had insisted was more of a settlement than an actual city.

At his comment about metamorphosizing an argument into a meal, she laughed. “It’s not that Syka is pleasant. It has its problems between giant snakes and the lack of anything except food … cooking is one of my passions. And trust me… people often prefer to eat than argue.” She said with a laugh. Most cities, she felt, had an issue with abundant food. Syka was perhaps the only exception in the world since it literally grew on trees or crawled, flew, or swam all around them. But it wasn’t something an outsider would understand… unless she got a chance to explain it to him thoroughly. And now didn’t seem the time.

But she wasn’t in a hurry and she was finding this shopping trip more than just exciting. It was fun meeting new people, hearing about their lives, and getting their take on things she might not know about or take for granted. The games, she thought, interested Alric, but maybe not for the same reason she wanted them. He and emphasized profit and winning… and didn’t exactly see them as a way to pass time when one had a lot of time to waste.

What was Sunberth like? Maybe she’d ask him to describe one of his days to her. She’d certainly like to hear about life outside of the two places she was familiar with.

“It occurs to me I never asked you what you did for a living, though you’ve completely guessed my profession. Do you mind if I pry a bit and ask you now?” She questioned, phrasing it so that if he didn’t want to say much about his livelihood, then he had an easy out. Anarchy? Did people in a city with no laws even have jobs? Was he some sort of criminal then? Tazrae didn’t like to judge people by their professions… some were born to whatever they did, and some people just naturally fell into difficult lives due to circumstances. Who knew? Maybe he made an honest living selling a sword or tending people’s wounds? She couldn’t see him bristling with weapons as a mercenary might be. Alric felt more subtle than that.

“I don’t know about fortune smiling on me.” She said, rubbing the inside of her wrist where there was a small raised mark that looked somewhat like a gnosis mark but definitely wasn’t one. “I was raised an Innkeepers daughter in Riverfall. We had what was considered a small Inn there… twenty rooms. My father took ill a few years ago and died. My mother ran the Inn’s finances into the ground and we lost the property. My mother and I didn’t see eye to eye, but I loved my father dearly. My mother took out a Nakivak contract and got herself moved into an Akalak’s estate where she was well taken care of. She wanted me to do the same but I wasn’t one for being anyone’s broodmare. I … it hit me hard when my mother lost the Inn. I had… planned to make that my life. One of my father’s dearest friends helped settle Syka and on one of his supply runs for Syka over to Riverfall he suggested I come with him and start an Inn there. It was… a massive step because there’s really nothing in Syka. You don’t buy existing buildings… you build them. It really needed an Inn for visitors and he convinced me he could finance me for a small startup. I moved there and his daughter became one of my best friends. We started small, building a six-room Inn that’s normally very full. And I just managed to pay off the loan so all the profit is now going to me and I can afford to perhaps put a second story on the Inn now… and at least add an apartment for me. I’ve been staying in various rooms there unless we fill, then I move to a tent on the beach.” She added smiling.

This man had no idea how incredibly small Syka was. “Syka has less than a hundred people, Alric. Everyone knows everyone else. It’s no wonder it has unusual traditions and things like clothing optional.” She added, smiling. “But it's grown on me. I can’t begin to tell you how different it is from any other place. There’s no trash, nothing is ever wasted, and when you need help with something… like building an Inn… people just show up and help.” She said, shaking her head. “Usually unpaid… I’m going to spend the rest of my life feeding the locals and blowing off when they try to pay me because there isn’t a single one that hasn’t helped me out one time or another.” She added, tilting her head at him and offering him a smile.

“I consider the massive Inns in Riverfall big. Some of them have twenty apartments… not rooms… apartments. Can you imagine?” She said with a laugh. “What are the Inns like in Sunberth?” She asked, curious.

When he took out his smoking items, she studied them with a soft almost sentimental grin on her face. “May I?” She asked after they’d sat down a bit and were waiting on menus. Her fingers ran lightly over the pouch of tobacco before she picked it up to inhale. “My father used to smoke a pipe. Gods I’ve missed that smell. He’d take a pipe of the evening after dinner and we had some of the best talks in our courtyard seats while mother made disapproving noises in the main hall.” She said with a smile. “Your tobacco smells a lot like his… earthy. He used to have a hint of that all day long. His favorite chair by the fire smelled a bit like his pipe smoke.” She said, replacing the pouch of tobacco carefully. “I don’t much like cigarillo smoke unless it’s the ones that smell like… cloves is it?” She added.

“One of the Founders of Syka smokes a pipe. He sits on his back porch that is built out over the water and smokes a pipe and fishes. I join him once and a while for a good talk. He always has interesting visitors with some of the best stories. He puts a pole in my hands and I go through the motion of fishing, but I’m no good at it. I’m far better-baiting crab pots and lobster traps and tossing them off the end of my own dock to soak overnight.” She added, giving him more insight into what people did in and around Syka.

“Will you tell me about Sunberth? What are the days and nights like there?” She asked simply, studying him while he opened his shirt up a big and let the breeze in. “If you plan on coming here often, I’ll see to it you get an Isuas shirt and maybe some pants. We grow it in Syka… its like cotton but the fabric woven from it is really thin, really strong, and hard to stain. You’d be a lot cooler in one than what you are wearing. It’s inexpensive for us since it just grows everywhere, but it's expensive and almost unheard of outside of places like this. I’ll trade the man who tends all the Isuas for some meals. He’s a terrible cook and admits it openly, but a fantastic weaver and a fair hand with a needle.” She added with a smile. “You both have the same build though he has about three decades on you.” She amended, not meaning to compare the two men.

She laughed slightly at his question. “Syka is a settlement… everything that exists there has to be built. I had to design it and build it… though I had help. The only real work I did was putting the decks on. I did build the dock myself though…. with the help of the Asha… they are small elephants that helped me set the pylons. My Ixam, Bree… a sort of horse-sized riding lizard helped too. She likes to swim.” Taz added, looking kind of embarrassed about it. “I’ve found I’m handy with a hammer if I want something done.” Tazrae added, knowing this man might not believe her. But the truth was that you learned to do for yourself in Syka if you wanted something done.

Just then a young waif of a girl who introduced herself as Mela came up and asked them if they wanted to order. Tazrae didn’t hesitate. She figured if Alric had time to eat, she’d keep him fed and perhaps get him to teach her a game or two. “Thank you Mela.” Taz said politely and then ordered then platters of the day – enough for two – and then for herself beef Kebabs. Beef was rare in Syka as they had no cows. She looked at Alric to see if he wanted Kababs and what type or the fish tacos… then she asked if they could have wine or other spirits with their meal instead of smoothies and Mela agreed readily. A bottle and two glasses were brought along with the platter while whatever Alric and the beef Kababs Tazrae ordered were prepared.

“I’d love to play a game… we can even add stakes if you want. Perhaps whoever wins each round gets to ask a personal question and get sit answered truthfully by the loser?” She asked, her eyes sparkling. Taz was truthfully an open book. She held no secrets close to her because secrets had power and could be used against people. If one had none, others had no leverage. Her bitch of a mother had taught her that lesson early on.

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[Open Sky Market] Games Aplenty (Alric)

Postby Alric Lysane on November 8th, 2021, 7:03 am



“Riverfall does not seem like a nice place, sounds like the opposite of what I’m used to. Where I’m from men and women alike do as they wish, though I suppose that can mean striking someone if they feel like it,” he conceded thoughtfully, “but rules…no there are no rules beyond the natural order of things. This jungle seems more like home to me. Sunberth is…difficult and magnificent if you’re tough enough. There are no real leaders. Some have tried but…well the mob puts a stop to it if they get too big for their boots. Mostly you do what you can to stay alive with your wits and talents. If you’re good enough you’ll survive and at times thrive, though there are no guarantees. Freedom is paramount, we spent too long enslaved to the old mining rulers and suffered too much to give it up, even if pure freedom has its downsides some might say. Anarchy is basically that you can do whatever you want…just so long as you understand that the same is true for everyone else and no one will come and resolve something for you when your ambitions go against another’s. You’re on your own and better b strong enough or crafty enough to win out” he sniffed and took a moment to consider, his views were not so hard-line these days but he still believed in freedom.

“As for where it is, it’s about as far east as you can get as far as I know, no one has come from the east anyway. Just south of the island of Sahova, land of magic and undead,” he frowned them, pursing his lips in distaste, he disliked the undead, it seemed wrong, “ almost direct west a ways is the more civilised city of Zeltiva and further west and north a ways Syliras. That’s about the extent of my geography so I’d imagine you know more than me Tazrae”

“I tend to do whatever jobs I come across,” he said carefully, he was aware that general larceny was usually frowned upon and he didn’t want an argument about pockets he had not picked this day, but it seemed uncharitable to lie and so he sighed and continued, “sometimes I can be a guard for a brothel, or tavern, or storage house. But those jobs don’t last forever sometimes. Gambler I suppose once or twice. Letter runner if I’ve had no other option. Sometimes you can get work as a laborer but it doesn’t pay too well. Safe enough though. Mostly I do what I can to keep my head above water and perhaps, if I am lucky, a bit ahead for a season or two. Problem with Sunberth is that situations are…fluid. You don’t get to plan many years ahead in most cases. Some established people might I suppose but a street rat starting from an orphanage doesn’t really have many options”

He could have gone on and deeper into the philosophy of it but as he met more outsiders he was becoming aware that Sunberth was quite a violent city in the old sense of dog eat dog than most other places. Where at the Outpost crime was harshly punished quickly Sunberth was the opposite. He doubted that many outsiders would truly understand what Sunberth took to survive at times. Perhaps the beautiful and generous Tazrae might but he didn’t want to delve too deeply into such matters on a first meeting. She had a way of getting him to talk but somethings may upset the lovely hostess and so he saw no reason to burden her with the for now.

Instead he slipped into a period of silence as he listened, it was her turn to talk now it seemed and she opened up about her past misfortunes and the struggle to achieve what she had managed to achieve. Despite her honesty he still found it difficult to imagine a place where people just turned up to help you without anything in return. She spoke of favours repaid but still it seemed such an alien concept to him that his mind rebelled at it. The tale of woe that was family was familiar to him, though not the same, and so he could related and sympathise with her words. At least she was able to laugh at times, and what a laugh it was.

“Perhaps, given your passions for cooking, you could put this apartment next to there. You could roll out of bed and straight to the hearth and then take the warmth of the hearth to bed,” he said with a soft smile, he had noted how she spoke fondly of her father smoking and so after she out the pouch back he had set about putting together a pipe and now puffed it, he offered her some in case she wanted some herself, he had one pipe but was willing to share, “despite the misfortunes though you have built something that seems to have been a dream, or in your blood at least. Do not discount achievements like that, I am sure there are people somewhere who would do many things to get what you have. Not that it has been easy from the sounds of it. Still…you pressed on and now are beholden to none outside your pleasure. I’d call that a dream of a kind. And given your abilities to make people feel welcome and at home who knows, perhaps you may find a traveller decides to stay and win you over, perhaps children to pass it down to. Somehow I doubt that you’ll never get the opportunity to share your path with someone. I think that sounds like a good life, no?”
“Especially if you know your way around many things. I’ve never seen an Ixam or an Asha but perhaps I could hire you to fix my little wooden shack?” he asked, slightly cheekily, “either way I’d say you found a little portion of somewhere nice to call your own. Perhaps this means I can also”

“I’d thank you for the clothing, I’d not mind wearing something that was a bit better than I have. I tend to buy a new set every few seasons to replace. I suppose you could say that I’m…a bit rough around the edges,” he said with a puff, wondering why he felt a tad embarrassed now, “as for what the days and nights are like…well I suppose the days aren’t much different than anywhere else. Business and work. Most meetings happen during the day for the more honest folk. It’s not a pretty city but it is quite industrious. You have to watch your pouch and pockets though, thieves are everywhere. In the evening the city comes more to life. The darker sides – robbery, breaking and entering and the like. It’s not uncommon that the morning might bring bodies from gang disagreements. But there’s also the casino’s, taverns, brothels, musicians and more and more. When you live hard you learn to celebrate hard and surviving each day is worth a little celebration. Most people just want to get on in life. The weather is a bit more extreme I hear than other places nearby…something about us being on the coast. Winters have been a little strange the last few years with no snow for some reason. But you can look up and see the stars with the glow of the slag heap fire burning the horizon above it warmly and it can seem like home”

Some of the food came and he picked at it between puffs and conversation, ordering something called a kebab, following suit as Tazrae was the food expert of the two of them. He noted how she thanked Mela and smiled to himself, she appreciated service because she gave it. He had never really considered it too deeply but he saw how it could make them feel appreciated. He made a note to himself to take up the practise and after she had left him his drink he thanked her and got a small smile in return. He had learned many things this day, though it seemed if Ovek were with him then he’d learn more.

“Stakes you say? Hmm, that sounds acceptable. A bold thing to request though, the truth, one does not always know what to do with it. Or find it agreeable,” he said, biting the end of his pipe thoughtfully, the siren song of knowledge and curiosity mixed and called to him though, “very well. I warm you though, I’m not so interesting” he grinned.

“You say you know poker, well you can play it with dice too if you have a mind. Roll five and you can get pairs, three of a kind up to five of a kind – which beats all – and one through five or two through 6 which come between four of a kind and five. Some places have odd rules like two ones is an automatic loss and three threes are lucky win…just to keep games different and interesting”

“Or liar’s dice though that’s usually better with three or more for the variety and personality. That’s where you each get five dice and you roll them under the cup like so,” he demonstrated, hand atop his own cup, leaning it to the side to see what was there, “and them you bid based upon what you’ve rolled and how likely others might roll the same. But it escalates. So you might say one one then the next must say two one’s or one two. Then the next three two’s or even further to push it towards being unreasonable by saying five five’s…and so on. You eventually get to someone who says something you don’t think the odds would allow and they get declared a liar. If they are lying after all dice are shown they lose their bid to the caller. If they are not the caller loses. And then you roll again…usually until all the money is gone” he chuckled.

“Or you could dust off your poker or checkers cap and show me what you’ve got on your own turf” he suggested.

He would teach her all the games he knew for her kindness, but it did seem fair to stick to something she knew already given there were now stakes. Whichever it was he’d go along with it, he wasn’t picky by nature for the most part and he didn’t really think he had anything to lose. He didn’t usually offer up much information on himself, he never really saw the point, but Tazrae was no threat and she didn’t even live in Sunberth so it was unlikely that anything bad would come of it. There was a sense of knowledge being given being generally not desirable but truly it’d be down to Ovek and not he. Besides which he could win and walk way with mor so it was worth the gamble.



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[Open Sky Market] Games Aplenty (Alric)

Postby Tazrae on November 11th, 2021, 5:05 am

She was having a decidedly good time hanging out with a complete stranger as if they were long lost old friends catching up. Tazrae sipped at her wine as she listened intently to Alric speak. He didn’t have an accent so much as a vocabulary and way of saying things that differed completely from the tropics. She thought about what he said…. really thought about it and frowned.

“I’m trying to think if Syka actually has any rules… and you know what? I don’t think we do. I think people just do things a certain way and its habit and tradition. For example… when a ship ties up to the dock – we only have a singular dock – everyone turns out to help unload it and reload it. You simply just drop what you’re doing and go help. No one makes you… no one frowns on you if you don’t show up. But it becomes a whole settlement thing after a while… and if people aren’t unloading the ship, they will start some food for the newcomers and maybe exchange gossip or news. If the ship needs fresh water, we refill their barrels and … well everyone just sort of pitches in and helps. There’s a lot of trade that goes on when a ship docks… and a lot of mail and news changes hands.” She explained, then nodded to something else he said.

She knew the feeling about the jungle being more like home. But Tazrae wondered if he’d ever believe someone like herself would have learned its ways and how to survive it? Would she if the situation was reversed? No… probably not. But then again, he was from a place where there were no rules and she imagined in such systems the strong took advantage of the weak. Was he strength or weakness? Did he prey on others or get preyed on? Were the lines in the sand that firm? Or did the morning mists shroud black and white into shades of grey that was far beyond her understanding? Tazrae studied his face, looking for herself – as if she’d see the answers written there in the lines of his face.

He was handsome. The thought struck her immediately as she listened to him speak. It wasn’t just his looks that were appealing though. It was how he thought. She liked the way he explained things. Tazrae was sure the words off another’s lips would paint a picture of blood and sacrifice and even death. Human nature was twisted at times and those who were twisted were often drawn to lawlessness. But Alric had ideals. That fact was completely clear to her. His ideas had merit too. But were those his ideas or the ideas of Sunberth itself? Tazrae carefully set her glass back on the table and leaned forward on an elbow. She started to ask him a few questions, but was distracted into the geography lesson Alric was giving her. When he was done with his explanation, she nodded, having a better idea of where his city was. Indeed, it was a long way away. It wasn’t like a two day sea voyage to visit like Riverfall was from Syka. She’d never heard of Sahova but she vaguely knew Zeltiva was at the end of a road south of Syliras… on a completely different coast.

“You not only live a coastline away, but two coastlines away. I don’t think we could be possibly further away from each other.” She said thoughtfully, though an astute observer could see disappointment too. A few days away from her Inn she could manage – even a week – for a trip. But seasons? No… she’d never be that far away from what she now considered home.

When Alric answered her question about his profession, Tazrae decided she’d probed to deep and crossed over into the two-personal level. What surprised her was that Alric wasn’t just one thing. He was a lot of things all at once. Taz also guessed there were jobs he wasn’t speaking of, for one would think in a city of lawlessness there was debauchery aplenty. She didn’t care, truth be told, because in Syka she’d met all kinds and sometimes they ended up surprising her with how interesting the most mundane job sounded. “I had thought perhaps you were one of those children that grew up slicing purses and then moved on to hunting bounties or even were a professional killer.” She suggested with her eyes dancing, half in jest because she didn’t picture Sunberth as someplace anyone would write a letter to another and send it by courier.

It was in that moment she realized Alric’s true appeal to her. He was someone her long – hated mother would have despised and felt utterly inappropriate to either befriend or date. Rough-hewn and unfinished as a man, he was still emerging from himself and finding his way in the world. Tazrae guessed he was at the stage where the caterpillar thought it saw and did everything, then one day out of the blue it built itself a chrysalis and incubated for a time before emerging as a butterfly. No, Alric was no butterfly. He was all moth – large, bold, well able to camouflage and mimic others – unlike the awestruck beauty that delicate butterflies had. Taz had always favored moths over butterflies. The moths seemed to always be more at home in their environments, blending with them rather than outshining them. Butterflies were flamboyant and narcissistic. Moths were far more practical and aware.

She smiled at her own analogy and kept silent otherwise. When he mentioned her Inn addition she smiled and shook her head. “There’s no room for additions around it… it’s on the beach. But we planned for expansion when we built it originally... only upwards not outwards. I’m going to build my apartment above the kitchen and living room for privacy reasons. Then I will probably put additional rooms above the existing rooms so I can double my capacity. The Protea Inn is roughly L shaped… a small two-room wing and a larger four-room wing. Many people build lofted in Syka. They take advantages of the sea breezes and incredible views. My ground floor rooms have lovely beautiful views, but so will the second story – only a bit further out to sea. We are plenty crowded at times so this will reduce that issue. As it is, sometimes I house myself and guests in tents on the beach. Luckily the weather is almost always agreeable.” Taz added, liking that her new friend was bold enough to make housing suggestions.

“I dreamed indeed. I dreamed of freedom after growing up under over-watchful eyes then being housed in a high walled estate and fattened up like a prized brood mare. You are… by your own words… a son of Sunberth. That makes what… the craving for freedom for you absolute? Something that courses through your veins? And here you are, doing what you want, when you want… that’s a kind of freedom all on its own. Is it enough? Because you are talking like you are still chasing it and not actually living it. I wonder if maybe deep down you might understand what I’ve come to know. What I know is that there’s more to freedom than just doing, Alric. True freedom, I’ve come to believe, is about thinking. It’s about opening yourself to new possibilities and new experiences. It’s about taking what you know and understanding what more there could be and chasing that ‘more’ to your benefit and the benefit of those that you love.” She said suddenly, almost as if the words themselves were sentient things that spilled from her unattended mouth like cows breaking free of a barn whose door had been forgotten to be latched.

“That definitely means you can do or be or see anything you want.” Tazrae affirmed, completely confident in that being the truth.

When he mentioned the Isuas clothing, Taz only smiled. “Don’t worry overly much about it. It’s probably just my higher mind… my subconscious… plotting a way to arrange a second meeting with you since its enjoying this first one so much.” She said with a grin. It was one of those adult grins reminiscent of one a child would give another that had just come up with the plot to end all plots … something that resulted in the acquisition of coveted sweets, attention or toys. “I’m a planner… for sure. If Sunberth is outfitted with the type of people you say it is, a dark pair of pants – dark enough to hide the stains of blood – and a charcoal grey shirt – something with a tinge of blue to it to bring out your eyes should do nicely. We dye our fabrics in all sorts of colors, but I have a feeling that bright bold colors would draw unwanted and uninvited attention. Sunberth sounds like the place you need to blend into the shadows to avoid predators.” She said respectfully and then gave him another smile… this one more friendly than conspiratorial.

She refilled her wineglass and listened while he spoke of the city and how it operated. She let her mind wander, painting pictures of his words and trying to fit him into those complex cityscapes. Tazrae kept up until she stumbled across her own vision and stalled on one particular thing he said. “Slag heap? What do you mean by “Slag Heap?” Her sun-bleached eyebrows rose and curiosity filled her face. She’d never heard of a ‘slag’ let alone have it heaped up somewhere. So she studied the man and waited for him to answer the question.

Their food was delivered and Tazrae enthusiastically began sampling bits and pieces here and there. She wasn’t one of the women who wouldn’t be seen eating a single bite in public. Instead, she tore into the meal with gusto, making sure every bite was contemplated and nothing was left out. After she sampled something particularly good, she’d urge him to try whatever it was that was distracting her. She kept their wine glasses in the full and nibbled on her beef kabob without shame. She only chewed enthusiastically and nodded to what he had to say.

“I already know how to play poker… and checkers. You promised me new games.” She said with a laugh. “But perhaps not chess… I’m not very good with strategy.” Taz admitted. She pushed aside her wine again and brought her backpack up to her lap. “Well, you saw the assortment I purchased…. What shall we try first? And trust me… I’m lacking in serious killer instincts. I am mostly here for any bit of fun.” She said, knowing that was true enough. She drew the line at calling herself stupid, but “I won’t starve if I miss a play.” She said, shaking her head. “Though I know that missing instinct is a serious handicap where you come from.” At least that was the impression he’d given her of Sunberth and Alric’s world.

Bending down, she picked up the backpack and rested it on her knee. “So go ahead… pick something you wouldn’t mind teaching and playing a bit to kill some of this afternoon heat.” Her words were true enough. It was growing warm – almost uncomfortably so – in the direct sun of the Cantina. Taz had selected something shaded both by the building and the lush vegetation. “I heard this period is where a lot of the Outpost people call a rest to the day and take a nap. “ She said that as if it were an impossible thing. Then she held out her backpack to him with the flap open… all tis contents in plain view. She made a ‘pick something’ gesture and then leaned back in her chair to see what the item would be.

She hoped for a card game or something with dice. Both of those things she was fairly rusty at. She didn’t mind loosing to him though. He looked as if he could need some cold hard stone coin for whatever business had brought him to The Outpost.

“I’m curious too…” She heard herself ask. “What specifically brought you here today? I know you mentioned it briefly before?” A caramel-colored eyebrow rose in curiosity. This was a question she definitely wanted to know about.

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Last edited by Tazrae on November 11th, 2021, 10:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Tazrae
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[Open Sky Market] Games Aplenty (Alric)

Postby Alric Lysane on November 11th, 2021, 11:51 am

“Syka is a new place though, still building itself and in its formative years by how you speak of it. Take care of that as precious as it will likely influence how it will be in a hundred seasons. Both Sunberth and Skya way have no rules but the history in Sunberth…it is bloody and cruel. It was never really fated to be a nice place filled with community. Perhaps it could have been once, many many years ago…but the time for that has passed and now we are stuck with what we have. Even if I could ever have the power to change it I’d probably be chased out of the city for trying to and wielding too much authority…if I were lucky” he said with a hint of sadness.

It was the ever present irony of Sunberth – that most wanted it to be less bloody and harsh, or at least a little easier, but that to do so required the violation of the absolute ruthless freedom that had been cultivated and was so prized there. Sat opposite Tazrae, listening to her bring new perspectives to him, he did wonder whether it was worth it. He had found himself questioning many things this season and he had yet to truly decide how he felt about that.

“Well I promise you that if I ever have reason to leave Sunberth that I’ll come and see you. Syka sounds like a place that I could agree with and the beautiful company would be also” he said in response to what seemed like sadness at their geographical disparity.

He meant it too, if he ever did get kicked out of Sunberth he doubted he’d be able to go back. At least not for a long time, long enough to be forgotten and then assumed dead enough that a new identity would be serviceable. Besides which he liked Tazrae, she said what she thought and though she was amiable in doing so she wasn’t afraid of questioning his ideas or probing him further for clarification. Often people didn’t bother so it was refreshing that she did, and in a way that didn’t ask him whether he was mentally deficient.

There was a strength in her he thought now that wasn’t immediately apparent. Skin darkened by the sun from days working hard and muscles not stocky but lithe perhaps, strong despite the soft exterior. Mostly, despite her obviously attractive form, he had warmed to her personality. It was much like a crackling fire he thought, inviting and then nourishing. He suspected that if it raged one might not be so happy but until then it was pleasing and comforting for the wayward ruffian. He would like to get to know her more but he of all people knew it was wrong to monopolise time and she had her own business to run.

When she burst into the discussion of freedom, her own revelations and linking it to what he had been pondering on since the season’s beginning he could have kissed her but refused the urge of course. She spoke so passionately and honestly and it was a relief that he now knew at least someone else had faced the same sort of questions, doubts and the sense of belief she held. It was one thing to know that people faced trials in the abstract, it was another to hear them laid out on an individual basis and seeing how they matched up to each other. As he pondered that he listened to her talk about clothing and then laughed.

“Yes I think bright colours would draw the wrong kind of attention,” he said with amusement, imagining himself strutting down the castle commons streets in bright reds or yellows, waiting for the muggings to begin, “and thank you for thinking everything through so that I can continue to be a ruffian for at least a little while longer and be fashionable whilst doing so. It’s a date” he accepted readily.He didn't mention payment but he would find something to trade with her for it, it was only fair.

“I shall think upon your words Tazrae, they seem wise to my ears and it sounds like you have lived a life similar in parts to my own if not the same. The same ideas from different mouths can often bring a middle ground worth considering. I’m not sure what I want to be, but I do know that I’d like more. Perhaps your passionate words will help me to decide what that is”

There was a brief interlude as food was brought, sampled, recommended and then sampled again. Wine flowed easily if not in unnecessary abundance, helping to cool and stave off the heat that was most definitely closing in around them. She was ever the hostess, enthusiastic and speculative, things she liked perhaps being filed away to try for herself he’d have bet. She shared everything and that was something he was not used to but in the spirit of her words he tried his best to be involved in kind. He was not used to it and so she likely noticed that he had never recommended something be tried or that all plates were open to picking from. Community was not in huge supply in Sunberth after all. Still, he tried his best, filling glasses when appropriate and discussing tastes and smells.

“The Slag Heap is a giant fire on the outskirts of the city that neve goes out. Not sure why but long ago it was set alight. Slag is…it’s like the remnants of metal and mining operations. Sunberth was a mining town centuries ago, an enslaved one really. Perhaps someone took all the remnant and started the fire in defiance. Either way it’s warm and tends to be an evening spot for people to huddle up and spend time. It’s like a proud landmark I suppose”

“Somehow I doubt if your inn were in danger you’d lack killer instincts” he chuckled.

“Strategy would take a long time to teach, longer perhaps than we now have time for but I can do so another time perhaps. In that case,” he said, peering into the proffered bag and still thinking there was too much in it, he picked out two dice cups and dice and a pack of cards, “we’ll do a card game or two and though it works best with at least three and not really two I can show you the rules and principles of a game that a whole village could play if they really wanted to. And another dice game even couples can play. Card first though, until the plates are finished and cleared” he placed the items upon the table carefully and cleared some space.

He paused at her question, wondering in truth what had brought him to the Outpost. Certainly the lure of items and possible relocating of them had done so. There were some things that he needed but truthfully he supposed it was curiosity. But was it? Was it curiosity or the fact that this new world had given him pause for thought. He had been wrong about some outsiders so did that mean Sunberthian logic didn’t follow for all others? Was Sunberth free and proud or just mutinous and backward? What was he doing with his life and what fate had the gods decreed he have? What purpose? He thought for a time, eyes glazing over slightly before meeting her own vibrant ones.

“Purpose brought me here I suppose, or the search for it. Not an item easily on the market but this season I have…had cause to ask questions I hadn’t before. I am young by Syka standard but by Sunberth standards I could be coming to middle age. I’d like to think I could achieve some purpose before I am considered old. And there are mysteries I have been trying to solve for my whole life – my parents vanishing or the ring around my neck…I suppose I thought a new place might give me new ideas”

“It seems to have worked so perhaps the divines has smiled on me on this occasion,” he continued, as smoothly as he could after such revelation, “so…Rummy, or Gin Rummy it is” he suited his words by taking out the cards and giving them a good few shuffles, not bending them and taking care as they were not his, dealing them into their piles. The rest were put face down on the table between them.

“The idea is to end up with a complete hand of ten, or eleven if you’re lucky with the freshly drawn, cards that are made up of runs. You start with ten cards, pick one up at the beginning of your turn like so,” he drew from the pile on the table, “and then if you don’t want a card you discard one like this” he said, placing a three of diamonds face up next to the main pile, creating the discard pile.

“You can take from the discard pile if that is a card you need” he stated simple as he shuffled his cards around to see if he had anything that already went together – he had started with a couple of pairs which was reasonably normal. The rest made nothing but that would change as Ovek worked his magic.

“Runs can be three or four cards and are either three or four of a kind or straights. What you want to do is end up with as few spare cards – or deadwood – as possible when to ‘knock’. Knocking is when you put any card face down on the discard pile and that ends the round. You can only knock if the value of any ‘deadwood’ cards is less then ten when added together, so if you had a three and six left then that’d be nine so under ten”

“What you want is to try and have ten cards that are all part of a run and that is called Gin. You can ‘knock’ earlier and then there’s scoring to be done…”

He spent some time outlining the scoring of deadwood, merging cards from the non-knocker to the knocker’s runs of possible and so on but really there would be no better teacher than experience and playing a few rounds. As she played he’d answer questions and help where he was needed but he fancied she’d be smart enough to pick it up after a few rounds and scoring was simple enough, basic maths for a hostess used to counting and similar. But Rummy was a game that could be played by four people for a long time if they were so inclined.

If she picks it up I’ll teach her Left, Centre, Right too. That’ll probably be even more popular as it would be a way of them all actually placing down actual items or miza for winning and losing, and thus more exciting odds. And there's always Go Fish for children and many more...Crazy Eights I suppose... he thought to himself.

He was looking forwards to seeing Tazrae learn and then hopefully enjoy a new game. Sometimes that first triumphant ‘knock’ was quite satisfying, and she did have a nice smile for when she managed it. Between shuffling around cards and picking new ones for the game he puffed away in thought until the pipe was done and then lay it down once more. The food was delicious and not what he was used to at all and he reflected upon new experiences as she had suggested. Certainly he would not have predicted last Fall that he’d be sat in a magical teleport market cantina with a lovely woman from another continent playing cards. He smiled to himself and continued playing.

“I wonder what questions I should ask when my inevitable victory presents itself,” he said in a mildly teasing tone, to see if she was used to jibes whilst playing, they were part of the fun after all, seeing if you could distract your opponent into doing something they didn’t mean to do, “the mystery of Tazrae revealed!” he said with a somewhat theatrical look.





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Alric Lysane
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