Day 8 at Anchor
A few days after their excursion to the ice garden, John walked into the galley.
As had often been the case since they’d anchored in Hygge, his crew was gathered at the table.
And, as had often been the case since they’d anchored, they were arguing over a deck of cards.
Or, not cards, John realized, looking at the items scattered over the heavy table.
All three players had pads of paper and a writing instrument of some kind, and there were several dice scattered over what looked to be a map, but of no continent John had ever seen.
“Settlers of Mercedes?” he guessed, coming up to lean on the back of an empty chair.
“Posh,” Rory waved that off. “This is Dungeons and Dracos—the Way-seeker campaign. Come on now, Jagati, ‘tis your roll.”
She gathered up the dice and shook them in her hand. “Come on snake eyes!”
“Snakes eyes wouldn’t stomp on an ant,” Rory told her while Eitan leaned forward to watch the collection of oddly shaped dice scatter over the table.
“Natural twenty!” Jagati’s fist pumped in the air. Eitan grimaced as she looked at Rory. “Will that let me crush the ice tortoise with a mace?”
“With that score, I think you can crush it with your pinkie,” Rory determined.
Jagati’s hand slammed onto the table, making all the papers jump. “I crush it. Tortoise shards everywhere!” Her smile was huge and, to John’s mind, slightly insane as she declared, “I take the largest bit of shell as a new shield.”
“Brilliant!” Rory looked at the scribbled paper in front of him and scribbled some more.
Eitan grimaced, then looked at John. “Save me.”
“You’re just bitter because you’re a squishy mage,” Rory said.
“I beg your pardon?” John asked.
“Squishy mage.” Jagati poked at Eitan, who was seated to her right. “Not just squishy, his dice rolls are pathetic, which makes him even easier to kill. A spider god sneezes once, and he’s dead. Squishy.” Her palm pressed on the table. “Squiiiiiiiisshhhhh.”
“Speaking of squishy,” Rory said, looking up from his papers to where Eitan glowered, “it appears a bit of that tortoise shell struck you, and you are now bleeding out on the ground. You’ll need to roll a healing spell, and right quick.”
Eitan sighed, accepted the dice Rory dropped in his hand and, as a barely audible “Squish,” emerged from Jagati’s direction, cast his roll.
“Ah, well,” Rory said after the dice teetered to a stop, “we can always regenerate your life force in five rolls.”
“You killed me,” Eitan said to Jagati.
“Not my fault you are so squishy…”
“Say that again,” Eitan’s glare went as cold as the air in the galley. “I dare you.”
She took a breath.
John decided enough was enough. “As much fun as it is to see my crew turn into twelve year olds,” he said, cutting Jagati off, pre-squish, “maybe you could hold off on the bloodshed long enough to hear the latest weather report?”
“Uh oh,” Rory said.
John looked at him. “It’s not—horrible.”
“Just really bad?” Jagati guessed, slumping back in her chair.
“According to Hygge Flight, the incoming line of storms will bypass the city,” John told her, “meaning we’ll be safe enough—as long as we’re on the ground.”
“AUUUUUUUUUUUGHHHH!” Jagati rocketed from her chair and began to pace around the room, arms made thick by layers of clothing flying, and coming near to hitting her companions, who all ducked or angled away as she swung by. “Why does this keep happening? Who hates us this much?” She whipped around to point at Eitan. “Did you bang some wether god's girlfriend? Or boyfriend?”
“Did you murder some weather god's pet turtle?” Eitan snapped back.
“Hah,” she said, then her eyes widened. “I know what happened. Rory cheated at cards with a weather god and took all their money!”
“Please.” Rory shuffled papers and reclaimed the dice. “If I were to cheat a god, I’d make smogging sure the blighter never knew of it.”
“He has a point,” John decided, which caused all three pairs of eyes to turn on him. He held up his hands. “Don’t bring me into your argument.”
“T’isn’t an argument,” Rory said.
“Yes, it is,” Eitan argued.
“No, it isn’t.” The look in Jagati’s eyes as she countered Eitan’s counter made it clear that she was game to pour fuel on any fire that got lit.
Which, John thought, was probably the only way she could think to stay warm. “Smog it,” he muttered, because she was probably right. He pulled out the chair and sat. “Deal me in.”
“It’s not that simple…” Rory began.
“I think you might bend the rules,” John said. “Given we're likely to be here for some time.”
"Dude's got a point," Jagati said, retaking her seat.
“Right.” Rory blew out a breath everyone could see, and started scribbling. “So, how about this? Inside the giant ice tortoise, we find a cask, and in the cask is the body of a paladin—that’ll be you, John—and next to the body of the paladin is a, ahh—”
“Potion!” Jagati chimed in as Rory faltered.
“Right, yes, a potion. Our mage—”
“Seriously?” Eitan glared at Jagati.
“Our mage,” Rory continued with a warning glance at Jagati, “will use the potion to revive the paladin.”
“Except our mage is dead, too,” Jagati reminded him. “For five more rolls.” She smiled at Eitan.
“Don’t,” he said.
“Bollux.” Rory tapped his pencil to the table. “Right, well, in that case, Jagati’s berserker will grab the potion and give it to the paladin.”
“I see,” John said, though he didn’t. Not entirely.
“So I grab the potion” Jagati said, “and I……” She grabbed the mug at her elbow, “… pinch his nose and pour it down his throat?”
She shifted in her chair and turned to where John sat at her left.
“Put. The tea. Down.” John creaked the chair back.
“Maybe just roll the dice?” Rory cut in.
“See?” Eitan said to Rory, his left arm waving at Jagati. “Do you see what you have created?”
“At least she’s not complaining about the cold,” Rory replied.
“I heard that.” Jagati and her mug swung towards Rory.
“Children,” John cut in, before crockery could begin to fly. “Don’t make me take your dice away.”
Regarding the game:
Any mistakes, scoring kerfuffles, or mis-references to how D&D works may be attributed to a few thousand years (and many hundreds of thousands of light years) between the game's origins and its play in this scene. Also, to the memories of the two middle-aged broads writing it. In particlular Kathleen, who played that one game over twenty years ago, and rolled to destroy a child-killing god by throwing (throwing!) and arrow at it.
Want to know more about the crew of the Errant? Check out their first novel: Outrageous Fortune.