Inkspell - Tarot

The aging siren shuffled her deck with a serene smile on her face as the cards passed from talon to talon. Her deft movements and sleight of hand tricks made it seem almost as if the cards floated in the air as easily as a boat on the water, the effect enhanced by the dim, flickering light of the candle on the square table she sat at. It was very impressive, and had Eiran not been struggling with a bout of seasickness, he might have been more interested in the display. Unfortunately, the homes of the water goddess's remnants were located on the great shallow seas of Praecidia Maraqua, and as their faith dictated, there was only an anchor holding the houseboat where it was - all else was left up to the tides and the wind. Which meant that Eiran could barely look at the cards without being overcome with queasiness. At last, the little show was done, and Ouris placed the shuffled deck in the center, sweeping her talons out to the other players. The candle snuffed out as a breeze burst through the room, blowing the curtains on the windows wide open…and revealing 18 cards, split into parcels of 3, in front of her, Eiran, and the two other players at the table. The deck was reduced to six cards, face down, in the center.

"Always with the flourishes, love," her husband, Elim, chuckled as he picked up his hand, fanning the cards out to examine.

"Well, we did agree to teach him how to play," Kriyah, her daughter, countered, picking up her own. "It won't seem fair if we don't make it as cool as we can!"

Eiran nodded silently, trying to keep his lunch down. The saltwater breeze from outside helped, at least. It was a wonder that he'd been able to repair the mechanisms of the brass claw that made up Ouris's foot with the way that he felt…but for him, that was simply part of the job.

Kriyah hummed as she eyed her cards. "...Maman, are you sure you didn't stack this deck?"

"Of course not, darling." Ouris bristled at the thought. "Proper Tarocci, like any other game, has no cheating." She turned her gaze to her husband, back to her serene expression. "Dear, for this first one, we ought to play the hand we are given. Would you mind…?"

Elim grinned, thumbing through his cards once more. "Oh, not at all. In fact, with these in hand, I am feeling frisky! I bid Garde!"

"Ooh, exciting!" Kriyah squealed. "Eiran? You're next."

"Erm..." He glanced down at his hand again. Some cups, some swords, a man with a bundle, a tower…Ouris's patient explanation of the game had gone in one ear and out the other, despite his best efforts. Perhaps it was for the best. "I, uh…I pass."

Kriyah deflated. "Aww. Well, since Papá seems to think he'll win, we can prove him wrong together." She flashed Eiran a conspiratorial grin. "I'll pass, too!"

Ouris nodded. "A team of three we shall be, then. Pass. The floor is yours, love."

Elim laughed heartily, pumping his fist as though he'd already won the hand. "Excellent! I call poignée as well, then! Let's give the boy a real game! Do your discards, everybody!"

He had to admit, when he was offered lunch, dinner, and a chance to "learn the latest trend" in Maraqua as payment for his repairs, he hadn't expected the last to be cards. Yet with Kriyah's enthusiastic (if rule-bending, considering how often she craned her neck to look at his cards during a trick) advice, Ouris's patience as he fumbled with his cards, and Elim's bombastic performance as the heel, Eiran found himself caught up in the drama, forgetting his twisting stomach and picking the rules up quicker than he thought. And when at last all the cards were played, the bouts and points were counted, and Elim fell to his hands and knees in sorrow after winning only one measly trick in the hand, all eyes turned to Eiran.

He laughed. "...Do we have time for another round?"

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