191/366 – The Silver Arch Casino

Day 49 of 100 Word Prompts: Dice

“Look at all the people!” Dakis said, his eyes wide in awe. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many people in one place before.”

“Welcome to Sonere,” Byron said, opening his arms as wide as he could without touching any of the passing pedestrians. “Crazy, isn’t it?”

“You’ve been here before?” Dakis asked in amazement.

“No, a merchant told me about it in Pediver,” Byron replied as he turned a corner onto another main street. “He said this place never rests. Even at night, the streets are filled with performers and traders.”

“At night?” Dakis repeated in disbelief.

“Yeah, the merchant also said there is a huge casino here,” Byron said, craning his neck to look over the crowd.

“Byron, no,” Dakis said, his voice suddenly stern as the awestruck expression vanished.

“What? It’s not like the capital. This isn’t some back alley thing where a dagger against your ribs can take your money win or lose. There are rules at the casino. There’s order,” Byron said. “It’s called the-”

Byron fell silent suddenly as his eyes fell upon the silver facade of the casino. His mouth gaped, and his jaw moved up and down as he tried, and failed, to produce words. Dakis followed his friend’s gaze, and his reaction was vastly different from his traveling companion. He felt a sudden lump of anxiety ball up in his stomach.

“I don’t know about this,” Dakis said as Byron walked forward, one lurching step after another.

“It’s-it’s-it’s,” Byron managed to stutter, “It’s so BEAUTIFUL!”

With the last word from his mouth, Byron was off at a near sprint weaving through the crowds in the street. He nearly bowled over a minstrel outside, playing harp over a near-empty mug. Dakis ran to keep up and apologized for his friend as he passed the minstrel.

“By. The. Gods,” Byron said as he stopped in the entryway. “There’s not even a door on the place! Can you believe it!”

“Byron, I think-” Dakis started as Byron fished his coin purse from his belt.

“How much money do you have on you?” Byron asked.

“I’m not giving you my money, Byron. I know how you can be when you’re gambling. I’ll not support this vice of yours,” Dakis replied.

Byron gave Dakis a hurt look. “Vice? How is this a vice? I haven’t gambled in at least a span,” Byron said.

“Only because we were traveling,” Dakis shot back. “I’m telling you, we shouldn’t be-”

“Look at that!” Byron said, walking away from his friend to the nearest card table.

The Silver Arch Casino in Sonere stood as a testament to everything that Byron loved about gambling. Outside, the prostitutes lined the front of the building, waiting for patrons to hire them for the evening. Inside, the vast floorplan of the first floor boasted twenty games to bet on with pit fights in the back. It was not surprising in the least to find some of the oddest creatures around betting and fighting inside.

The second floor ringed in a balcony filled with tables for onlookers and the management to watch for potential problems with the patrons of the establishment. The next two levels were solely for people choosing to keep private rooms as the casino also functioned as an inn for the town.

“I don’t know about this,” Dakis whispered, his eyes following a wayward drow past them. “It’s not safe.”

“Gambling never is, my friend,” Byron replied, ignoring his friend’s fear-filled expression. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. That’s the fun of it. At least here, we won’t have to worry about someone robbing us in the street.”

Byron, wrapping his arm around Dakis’ shoulders, steered him through the packed room to a table featuring one of his favorite games, Liar’s Dice. Releasing his friend at the side of the table, he slapped five silver pieces on the table and rubbed his hands together.

“I’ve seen that look on your face, Byron. This is a bad idea,” Dakis pleaded. “Can we please leave?”

“You’re getting worked up over nothing, Dakis,” Byron replied as the dice master took his coins and put a wooden cup with six dice inside. “You need to relax. Do you want to get a room with one of the ladies outside? That elf out there was eyeing you something fierce.”

“No, no, I’m fine,” Dakis lied, looking to the dice master.

“Are you playing?” the dice master asked.

“No, thank you,” Dakis said, waving his hands.

“Is everyone ready?” the dice master asked, looking to each of the four players with cups of dice. “Does anyone need a refresher on how to play?”

“I’m good,” Byron said, his hands shaking in anticipation.

Dakis turned his back to the table, unwilling to watch his friend lose his money. As the players placed bets, shook their cups, and flipped them, hiding their dice, Dakis noticed on the balcony a beautiful woman who looked familiar, despite their just arriving in town.

“Byron,” Dakis said, nudging his friend.

“Four threes,” Byron said to the table after looking under his cup. “What? I’m busy at the moment.”

“Look,” Dakis said, pointing covertly to the balcony.

Byron’s eyes followed his friend’s direction, and his jaw dropped once more. There on the balcony, in all her beautiful glory, was the woman he and Dakis had been hunting for more than a season.

“I don’t believe it,” Byron said.

“You lose,” the dice master announced, hearing Byron’s words.

“Wait. What?” Byron said, turning his attention back to the table.

“Turn in your cup, sir. This player stated that he had five six’s, and you said you don’t believe it,” the dice master informed him. “The player did indeed have five six’s. Therefore, you lose.”

“I didn’t-I wouldn’t-I wasn’t,” Byron stumbled, watching the other player receive his five silver pieces.

“Would you like to play again?” the dice master asked.

“No, no,” Byron said, waving a hand at him as he turned back around and addressed his friend. “She’s here!”

“So it would seem,” Dakis said. “What do you want to do now?”

Byron didn’t respond. Instead, he marched off through the room, pushing between players and the staff alike, his focus on the stairs by the front desk.

“I’m sorry, sir,” a large half-orc said, dropping his tree-trunk arm in the way, “but the balcony is reserved for a select clientele of the Silver Arch.”

“I don’t give a rat’s as-”

“Sorry, sir. My friend didn’t know,” Dakis said, pulling Byron away from the large bouncer.

“What are you doing?” Byron hissed. “She’s right there.”

“I know, but you can’t push your way through this one,” Dakis said. “You need to take a second to breathe. She’s clever, and going at her head on won’t work so well. It didn’t the last time either, remember?”

“I remember that the devil-woman stole my songbook!” Byron said, throwing his arms in the air and trying to turn back to the half-orc at the bottom of the stairs. “I’ll get it back if it’s the last thing I do!”

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