ysabetwordsmith: (paladins)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the December 2, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] chordatesrock and [personal profile] redsixwing. It also fills the "opposite sides of the track" square in my 9-1-14 card for the [community profile] ladiesbingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Path of the Paladins.


"Chances Old and New"


It had been raining for over a week
when Shahana and Ari stopped at a tavern
in a dilapidated village that had seen better days.

Ari had been grumbling about how
there was nothing to do because
the wet weather was bad for arms practice
and she was tired of memorizing hymns.

Shahana reminded herself that
teenagers were like that,
and prayed for patience.

When the two women went inside, they found
half a dozen mercenaries of Gorrein huddled
around a large table close to the hearth,
but they had taken off their armor and
most of their weapons, engaged instead
with bitching about bored they were.

"Just sit quietly and ignore them,"
Shahana advised, and Ari obeyed,
devouring the bowl of vegetable soup
and a mug of watered-down beer.

It was still raining, though,
and nowhere near time for bed.

The mercenaries had a Trine set,
flat wooden triangles divided into three spaces
that could be made into a game board on one side,
and marked with a suit and value on the other.

"I'm tired of playing the same old games,"
whined the youngest mercenary,
a brunette who looked near Ari's age.

"Well, that's all the games I know,
so you'll have to make do," said their leader,
her short silver hair marking her as
a contemporary of Shahana's.

Ari looked back and forth between
the mercenaries and her mentor.
"Can I borrow the Fates?" she whispered.

Shahana weighed the respective risks
between dealing with bored teenagers
and potentially starting a scuffle
in the only warm, dry place they had.

In the end, she handed over the pouch.

Ari walked over to the mercenaries
and said, "Hello. My name is Ari.
I have different games to play.
Maybe I could teach you mine,
or you could teach me yours,
or we could make up something new."

She emptied her pouch on the table,
revealing one die marked with six colors
and one marked with six shapes,
along with a dozen discs each of which had
a color on one side and a shape on the other.

"Or maybe we could play something very old,"
the leader murmured, sitting up straight.
She turned to holler at Shahana.
"Hey, you! Ever play Chances?"

"When I was a girl," said Shahana.
"I haven't played in decades, though.
Nobody I know has a Trine set,
and I haven't the money for fripperies."

The leader gave a low laugh.
"Where I come from, games aren't fripperies.
They're essential equipment for keeping
bored mercenaries from knifing each other
for entertainment," she said.

Shahana wondered if it was worth the risk,
as wretched as everything had grown --
but she remembered her girlhood,
gaming with the novices of Gorrein
in the taverns of the bright city
before the world was broken.

Slowly she moved to take a place
at the table, the younger mercenaries
scooting around to make room for her
to sit beside their leader, even as
Ari settled next to the young brunette.

"I'm Shahana," the paladin said.
"Thank you for inviting me to play."

"Tirayna," said old mercenary.
"The more, the merrier." She raised a hand.
"Barkeeper! Bring us a bowl of dried beans."
She was already arranging the Trine cards
to form an hourglass track of two triangles.

Shahana put all the discs color-side-up
and sorted them into two rows,
setting one die beside each row,
quietly explaining the rules as she did.

The barkeeper brought the marker beans.

"I'm Venore," said the brunette.
"I have mini-men, if we need them
for this game." She set out a handful
of round-headed wooden pegs.

"Not for Chances, but we would
for Drunkard's Path," said Shahana.

"No reason we couldn't play another game
after the first," Tirayna said, tilting her head
at the window slicked with gray water.
"I doubt that rain plans to quit any time soon."

It wasn't peace, really, just an afternoon truce
driven by boredom and bad weather,
but Shahana didn't care.

She waved a hand over the dice,
offering Tirayna the first throw.

Sometimes, you just had to take your Chances.

* * *

Notes:

Boredom increases risky behaviors. Know how to overcome it.

Trine is a game system consisting of 55 triangular cards, usually made from cardboard or wood. One side is divided into three spaces, so they can be laid out to make a game board. The other is marked with a suit (yellow stars, red knives, blue raindrops) and a number of pips (1-6). There are three complete sets of each suit, and the 55th card has all three suit symbols together. Other pieces may be added, such as six-sided dice or markers. The markers may include such things as chips or pawns, but are more often rocks or beans. A Trine deck can be used to play numerous different games. It is popular with many people, especially followers of Gorrein.

Fates is a game system consisting of two six-sided dice and twelve discs, usually made from bone or wood. One die has a different color on each face: red, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple. The other die has a different shape on each face: circle, almond, triangle, square, star, hexagram. Each disc has a color on one side and a shape on the other. A Fates set can be used to play numerous different games. It is popular with many people, especially followers of Gailah.

A game system is a set of materials which can be used to play many different games. Dice, cards, the Piecepack, and Looney pyramids are some examples.

There are many benefits to playing games. Understand how to learn a new game yourself and how to teach someone to play a game.

Botheration!

Date: 2014-12-08 11:46 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
I wanted to learn how they play the /game/!

Stamps feet, glaring at our own lousy weather outside... It's a perfect distraction...


And now, back to sobriety: I like the measured, slow-testing attitude to see if something holds, because the same testing means they're /more/ likely to trust the others if they meet up again.

Baby steps.

Re: Botheration!

Date: 2015-04-17 12:39 am (UTC)
pinkrangerv: White Hispanic female, with brown hair, light skin, and green eyes, against a background of blue arcane symbols (Default)
From: [personal profile] pinkrangerv
THAT IS BEAUTIFUL. That they actively tried to avoid killing each other, that they *started to care*, that is the most beautiful thing I've heard today. Or, like, in months. <3

Re: Botheration!

Date: 2015-04-17 01:29 am (UTC)
pinkrangerv: White Hispanic female, with brown hair, light skin, and green eyes, against a background of blue arcane symbols (Default)
From: [personal profile] pinkrangerv
I don't know if it's borne from fear or goodness, but it's so beautiful, like a hanging work of glass...

Re: Botheration!

Date: 2014-12-09 08:59 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
not my strong suit

… So to speak

(no subject)

Date: 2014-12-09 05:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tabard.livejournal.com
Ha! This makes me think of my time in the military. Everyone alway said the most dangerous thing was a bored Marine because the second we didn't have something interesting to do we were making crazy loud exploding toys out of MRE heaters, or getting drunk and running around the barracks playing with fire extinguishers, or doing various amounts of property damage in at least a couple cases. Probably one of the big reasons a surprising number of Marines -- of the social type one might never expect -- took up tabletop gaming in their downtime. Well, that and books are easy to take on deployment. :p

Thank you!

Date: 2014-12-09 05:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I really appreciate the shared examples from personal experience.

Hell yes bored Marines are dangerous. :D

(no subject)

Date: 2014-12-09 12:06 pm (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
Royal marines are no better... and when you add inter-service rivalry to that mix it gets Baaad !!

My granddad has stories about what happened during WW2 when some base commander decided it was a good idea to lump both sets of Marines [British and American] together in the same barracks. Apparently the rest of the base used to quite look forward to the Germans turning up...

Wow!

Date: 2014-12-10 08:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
Yeah, no, bunking separate services together tends to be very hard on the scenery. And your MPs. And your medics. Yep, everyone wishes for the enemy.

Who winds up wishing to be somewhere, anywhere, else and that's how this fool idea gets perpetuated.

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