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My LAST Game of Round Table Poker


by merticulous

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Opposite me was Footpad Joe. He looked up at me, and back at the table. The flickering of the torchlight made his face seem expressionless, or was that all part of his plan.

     "Ready?" asked Nigel of Meridar. The room was silent. The damp from the stone floor penetrated the very air we were breathing. A slight wind could be heard from behind the wooden shutters. In turn, each of the players, including myself, nodded. He glanced down at the deck of cards which waited below him. Each card emitted a glow of elegance, anticipation, and fear.

     His arm glided very slowly towards the deck of cards. He gently picked them up, and started to deal. Every single card hit the thick wooden table with an almighty snap. I glanced towards Friar Asquith, and saw a bead of sweat rolling down his face. He looked at me without moving his head, which was facing directly ahead of him: A marvellous achievement. The cards continued to snap on the table surface, until each player had five cards. The remaining deck was placed in the middle of the very large, round table.

     Lady Vanella casually but elegantly rolled her hand over her deck and scooped them into a fan position. She blinked a few times, looked at me, and back down. Did she have a good hand? Probably not. However, it was hard to tell if she was on edge; she was shrouded in a thick darkness. Nigel of Meridar picked a card up, one by one. I had always been amazed by his method of playing. With every card, there was a new expression. Card one, his face stayed blank. Card two, he smiled very gently. Card three, he coughed and rearranged his hat. Card four, he closed his eyes for a few seconds. Finally, he picked up card five, and let out an almighty grin, from ear to ear, staring at each of his opponents in turn. I was careful not to look him in the eye, I merely pretended I was cleaning my fingernails or something or the sort.

     Footpad Joe must be the roughest player on this side of Meridell! He slapped his cards up, turning one over, to reveal a King of Hearts to us, glanced at them, and slammed them back on the table again. Lady Vanessa let out a snigger. I tried to see the expression in his face, but he was preoccupied with a Voidberry he had in his pocket. Friar Asquith was a little more careful, but didn't have a particular style of playing. He picked up his hand, looked at them, banged his hand on the table, letting out a low laugh, and pilled them up on the table.

     It was my turn. Each player eagerly watched my every move. I released some tension in my shoulders, and closed my eyes. They were vultures; waiting for a look of disappointment on my face. I didn't want to give them it. I picked up my hand, and viewed the cards. Nigel of Meridar let out a sigh of relief. I glanced up at him, over my cards, and then looked back at them. I had a pair of twos, a pair of threes and a seven of hearts. Two pair! I smiled, but tried my hardest to hold it back. I needed to look calm so that they would put more money in the pot! Surely nobody could beat my two pair! The game had begun.

     The wind bellowed outside the shutters, a storm was surely brewing. Each of us placed ten Neopoints, into the center of the table, alongside the precious deck of cards. If I wanted that new dining table I would have to win this game. If I were to lose, I wouldn't have a penny to my name! Maybe I shouldn't have agreed to this.

     "Are you going to play or not?" bellowed Nigel of Meridar. Of course! It was my turn!

     "Would I be here if I wasn't?" I replied. He backed down. The room again fell silent, save for the rain whipping the shutters and the roof.

     I threw ten Neopoints into the center of the table. I moved my shoulders a little and let out a satisfied smile. Did it work? I glanced at Lady Vanessa, and she looked a little worried. I hope she is on edge, I thought. Friar Asquith reluctantly placed ten Neopoints in the center of the table. As did Footpad Joe. Lady Vanessa pulled twenty Neopoints out from her pocket; everyone raised their heads in surprise. Footpad Joe bit his bottom lip and Friar Asquith rearranged his cloak. Lady Vanessa looked around, satisfied, and placed ten Neopoints in the pot. Was it all a ploy to make us all fold? Nigel of Meridar placed ten Neopoints in the pot and nodded at me. Time to discard.

     My hand was very good, so I only discarded the seven. I carefully placed it at the bottom of the deck. Everyone was watching like vultures, to see if I gave anything away. Lady Vanessa raised an eyebrow and smiled at Nigel of Meridar. Footpad Joe let out a cough. I took a card from the top of the pile; it was a four of clubs. I lowered my shoulders, and Friar Asquith let out a satisfied noise. They knew it was not the card I wanted. Friar Asquith discarded three cards, without hesitation, and sighed at the cards he received. I was sure he was going to fold at the next opportunity. Footpad Joe threw all five of his cards on the table, to reveal a king, a queen, an eight, a four and a three: A very bad hand. He roughly pushed them under the deck, and picked five new cards. He glanced at them, and laughed, with his tongue hanging out. His teeth were awful! I had done some research on him before the game, it seems he was the heir to Meri-Acres farm, but lost it all in an unlucky game of Poker. I was hoping he would lose this game as well, but it was looking unlikely. However, it was possible that it was all a ploy.

     Lady Vanessa proclaimed very loudly:

     "I shall not be discarding this round." She slyly smiled; there was something about her that sent alarm bells ringing. She was covered in make-up, and looked very academically challenged, but was she? Nigel of Meridar let out a mocking laugh, and Lady Vanessa shot him a dirty look, lowering her eyebrows. She looked at me, and then at Friar Asquith, and back at her hand. Nigel of Meridar I had been told was a very good player, but prone to over-betting when he had rather poor hands. He was the brother of the owner of a lodge in a town called Meridar, somewhere in-between Meridell and Brightvale. He casually placed two cards under the deck, hesitated, and then placed another. He was obviously on edge and worried about his hand. He didn't look too pleased about the cards he received either.

     The discarding was over, and I without hesitation put twenty Neopoints in the pot. Friar Asquith complied, also placing twenty Neopoints in the pot. Footpad Joe raised the bet to forty Neopoints. Lady Vanella, looking very angry, placed forty Neopoints into the center of the table. Nigel of Meridar saw this, and had also noticed, like me, Friar Asquith's unsure behaviour. He raised the bet again to sixty Neopoints. Did he have a better hand than myself? Surely not; I raised the bet yet again to eighty Neopoints. Friar Asquith let out a yelp.

     "Fold," he shouted. "Happy now?"

     Lady Vanella stared over, and Footpad Joe merely laughed at the destroyed player. He had been eliminated from the competition. Footpad Joe, breaking the rules, threw one hundred Neopoints into the pot.

     "What? You can't do that!" shouted Lady Vanella. She threw her cards on the table and stormed out of the room. Friar Asquith stood up, pushed his chair back and followed.

     "Just us now," sneered Nigel of Meridar. Footpad Joe let out a nervous laugh, and I remained silent. Should I fold? They must have fantastic hands. No, stick with it, they're bluffing! Nigel of Meridar threw two hundred Neopoints into the pot.

     Should I? Footpad Joe looked a little worried. Maybe he will fold if I raised again. Yes. For sure. I pulled two hundred and fifty Neopoints out of my pocket and placed it on the table. Footpad Joe opened his pocket, but there were no more Neopoints inside. He was bust! He laid his hand on the table, to reveal three aces and two kings! He had a better hand than myself! I sighed with relief, as did Nigel of Meridar. I only had two pair, twos and threes. It was not a fantastic hand.

     "I'm going to stay to watch the game anyway," proclaimed Footpad Joe. Nigel of Meridar was very nervous all of a sudden. He placed the remains of his pocket onto the table. I had the exact amount I needed left, to call the game. If I had a Neopoint more, I would win! I couldn't believe it. I called the bet. Nigel of Meridar let out a laugh of relief.

     "Show your hand," ordered Nigel of Meridar. I saw no reason not to, and did so. He jumped up from his chair screaming. I could not tell if it was in delight, or anger. Footpad Joe jumped, and fell back in his chair. It was a scream of delight. He threw his cards down; he had two pair as well, threes and fours! I couldn't believe it! I had nothing. That was the last time I was ever going to play Round Table Poker again.

The End

 
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