Delve Six, Part 4: The Most Dangerous Game


Sieglinde, Igneel, and Linnus walk slowly into the room with the hulking iron golem attendant behind the bar. It reaches down and starts shuffling the cards in front of it with the sound of metal grinding within; its movements strangely nimble for how large it is. Sieglinde asks it, “So, uh… how are you doing?”

“I AM DOING WELL. HOW ARE YOU.” it answers.
“OK… How long have you been here?” she asks.
It continues to shuffle but says, “TIME MATTERS NOT WHEN IN THE SERVICE OF MY LADY.”
“Your lady?”
“YES. WOULD YOU LIKE TO VISIT HER.”

imageThe two adventurers look at each each other with eyebrows raised, then back at Linnus. His eyes are just about popping out of his head and his mouth is open wide. “What. The fuck. Is that thing?” he asks, still watching the giant construct as it riffle shuffles the cards then bridges them. “Does this sort of thing happen all the time down here?”
Turning back to the golem, Sieglinde says, “Pretty much, yeah.”

 

“COME ON DOWN TO LADY LUCK’S, LEVEL SEVEN.” the golem booms out.
Sieglinde looks at the cards. “Play for fun?” she asks.
“LIFE IS A GAME, IS IT NOT. DEPOSIT AN OFFERING THAT IS OF VALUE TO YOU -THE LADY WILL KNOW ITS WORTH- THEN TAKE YOUR CARD.”

Igneel pulls out a letter from a dead colleague, one that he had been carrying for years, and sets it into the offering trough. As he does so, Sieglinde sees a metal fleur de lis half buried in coins next to it. It’s the missing decoration from the armor she is wearing right now. The armor her mother left to her!
“THE LADY THANKS YOU FOR THE OFFERING. HERE IS YOUR CARD.” the golem says as it gives the deck a final shuffle, then places the top card onto the counter.

In that moment, Igneel’s entire world shrinks to that one card in the center of his vision. All sound drops away and he feels his future in this scrap of paper. Slowly, his hand reaches out and takes the card. On one side, it is an advertisement for a casino called Lady Luck’s. On the back it says, “Present this card for a complimentary drink token and some gaming coins!”

As he reads this, he suddenly notices that the pouch on his belt where he keeps his money feels heavier. Cautiously looking inside, he sees that all of his money has doubled! Smiling, he puts the card into the pouch with his newfound treasure.

Sieglinde then steps up and gently sets her hand axe into the trough. “This means a lot to me. I hardly use it, because I’m scared of damaging it. It belonged to my mother.”
“THE LADY THANKS YOU FOR THE OFFERING. HERE IS YOUR CARD.”

As the card hits the counter, Sieglinde feels the same tunnel vision and feeling of fate having chosen a path that Igneel did. She picks up the card, and as she reads the back, the edges of her vision start to fade to grey… and within seconds she’s struck completely blind!

“I’m blind!” she yells.
“THANK YOU FOR THE OFFERING. COME ON DOWN TO LADY LUCK’S, LEVEL SEVEN.”
“That sucks.” remarks Igneel.

Sieglinde decides to chance putting in her playing cards to see if her luck can be reversed. She places them in the trough again and the golem places another card on the table. The golem quips, “A FITTING OFFERING, BY THE WAY. THE LADY IS SURE TO BE PLEASED.”
“Well, it doesn’t seem like she’s much on my side tonight…” she replies.
“THE LADY CAN BE FICKLE. HER NAME IS LADY LUCK, AFTER ALL…”
Even though she can’t see it, she can feel where the card sits. As she touches it, she feels an unexplainable, nebulous feeling of luck. But she still can’t see.

Igneel is bit with the gambling bug, so he puts in one of his daggers. As he takes his card, he suddenly knows that he knows more ways to stick his remaining dagger into soft parts of his enemies. A strange feeling indeed, but one he hopes he can exploit against those that would harm him before the knowledge dissipates.

He decides to ask the golem, “So, are there any items in here that you maybe don’t need anymore?”
“THESE ITEMS ARE NOT MINE. THIS ALL BELONGS TO THE LADY.”
Sieglinde asks, “This armor emblem…. When was this put here?”
“TIME MEANS LITTLE IN THE SERVICE OF MY LADY. IF I HAD TO GUESS, I WOULD SAY TWO TURNS OF THE COIN HAVE PASSED. IT IS SOMEWHAT DIFFICULT TO TELL UNDERGROUND, HOWEVER.”

“So, can you gamble for any of this?” Igneel presses.
“THESE ARE NOT MINE TO GAMBLE WITH. THESE BELONG TO THE LADY.”
“Any way we can meet this ‘Lady’?”
“COME ON DOWN TO LADY LUCK’S, LEVEL SEVEN.”
“Ugh… of course…”

Igneel puts his other dagger into the trough. “You have a gambling problem!” Sieglinde yells. As he picks up the card, he suddenly feels an emptiness in his thoughts. Searching, he realizes he can’t remember any of the spells he knows that he knows!

They decide to sweep aside some stuff in the corner and rest for a while to see if the horrible effects of gambling with their fortunes wears off. After about a half an hour, Sieglinde’s sight begins to return, though everything is still fuzzy.

“OK, let’s get out of here. Thanks. Oh, do you have a name?” she asks the golem.
“NO” he says.
“Well, we’ll be back.” she tells him.
“I WILL BE HERE.” he replies.

With a flash of inspiration, Sieglinde runs back to the offering counter and puts one of the free drink cards in, and at the same time makes a desperate attempt to palm her mother’s armor decoration, right under the nose of the iron golem! Amazingly, he doesn’t seem to notice anything strange happening, and she grabs it! (just to note, both the iron golem and Vincent rolled a 12. Since he tied, he won! If he had lost, the golem would have been pissed and Sieglinde would have died in a very quick and very squishy way)

There is now a single card sitting on the counter, waiting for Sieglinde to pick it up. “THE LADY THANKS YOU FOR THE OFFERING. HERE IS YOUR CARD.” She debates for a while on whether she wants to pick it up or not. Finally, she just grabs it. This time, she simply stiffens, then falls over, paralyzed!

They wait a while longer to see if this will wear off, when they hear something strange coming from behind the counter. All of the golem’s movement and noise has disturbed three giant centipedes which crawl towards the party, crawling over Sieglinde’s supine form and face! Linnus, taking some bites but fending off the effects of the poison, manages to take one out. Igneel gets bitten as well and doesn’t get paralyzed either. Despite not having spells, Igneel takes one out just before Linnus kills the last one. Sieglinde manages to shake off the effects and stands as he’s wiping off his sword.

“TEST YOUR LUCK.” calls out the golem…

“OK, what the hell!” Linnus says. He rummages around and decides to put his whiskey flask into the offerings. As he takes his card, he suddenly slumps down to one knee, groaning. “AAGH! Ugh… What the hell was that?! I felt like I was about to die!” He gets back up but is visibly shaking. With this, they decide they have really, truly had enough with this game. They leave the room and close the door.

They leave the dungeon with no further trouble. Back at the keep, after they eat and tell their tale to the others around the fire in the common room, Sieglinde again lies in her bunk, staring at the ceiling. She looks over at her armor and sees the fleur de lis sitting in the previously empty slot on the chest; a perfect fit. She now knows that her mother has been here and has some potential clues as to where she might be.
With dreams of their eventual reunion in her head, she falls into a deep sleep…

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