‘Vincent sucks at differencing card suits’ edition.
Sapphire Antique Necklace.
Maneami Chip x5
>Your name is Cold Deck
>You are currently trying to reach Maneami Island; Haven of Risk.
>You are stuck on an Entrée Isle, last port stop before the Maneami Island.
>You managed to win five chips in a dangerous gamble.
>You are currently spending time with “Forbidden Fruit” of the Grapefruit family and her bodyguards.
>You promised to offer her and her bodyguards two chips, the cost of sending a letter.
>Now, the day is slowly coming to an end…
You dig in, chewing the sludge despite the awful look. To your grateful surprise it tasted as good as it smelled and after a while, you manage to completely ignore the bad presentation of it. You lick your lips, the heat of the warm food swiftly flowing inside your body like a stream of boiling, hot lava. With every bite the lava begins to overflow you, giving you the much needed fullness, energy and warmness. Despite that, you even finish the remaining spots on the side of the bowl.
Now, you can finally think and talk on a full stomach, “I’m sorry if I sounded harsh, “Forbidden Fruit”, you address her with her title for the first time in forever, “I had to fight for those chips with sweat and blood, not only mine but Marth’s here as well. We had nothing to wager, as I told you before, so we were forced to gamble with our life. Those chips are not worth two hundred bits for us, they weight as heavy as mine and Marth’s spirit. I’m sure this deal will benefit us both, won’t it? Two chips is absurd for a delivery, but there’s no other way it seems.”
She nods timidly, looking at her food but not touching it. Her bodyguards are eating very slowly.
“Yes, I understand completely respected Cold Deck. I’m just not in the best of moods, I’m sorry,” she sighs weakly. She begins to wave her fan to calm down; cold wind gently fondles her face.
“They really want you to risk your sanity and health in here, heiress,” you nod gently, looking at Marth’, “But before we agree to this deal, I have to ask my companion here about what he thinks.”
“Me?” Marthables look at you with surprise, his spoon trembling as he begins to cough.
“Of course, you own half of those chips,” you smirk, “We have to come to an agreement here.”
“Do what you think is best, Cold Deck,” he says passively, looking at his bowl, “I do not have any good ideas… or plans which will not ruin anything.”
You grunt. Marthables is leaving all the hard decisions to you so far.
“Then it’s settled if we all agree,” you say, offering her your hoof. She looks at it with a bit of a surprise and misunderstanding before she nods to one of her bodyguards and Fiber Stone grabs your tiny, compared to his, hoof himself.
He begins to vigorously and violently shake it. The deal is complete and set now.
“So, Marth’,” you say, smiling a bit to yourself but trying not to act too smug about it, “Do you have a marefriend at home? Or maybe a-“
“No,” he cuts you, gulping down the mess in his throat. He coughs. “Sorry… I only have my mother and her grandfather, Cold Deck. I’m not a stallion who’s good or liked by… mares. Neither am I interested,” he says, depressingly looking away.
The awkward silence is broken by the heiress.
“Do you plan to stay on the Entrée Island until our father arrives?” White Marsh asks you, taking a spoon and gently, nobly pushing it to her lips which she is still hiding behind her fan. It looked ridiculous and a bit funny, despite your best efforts to not chuckle.
We need enough money for the tickets so most likely. She should look for a bank before she sends that letter. If her father won't be able to come he might be able to transfer money to a local bank for her.
“We’re going to stay until we can earn enough money for the tickets. We’ll be allowed into the casino in the day after tomorrow. Hopefully, that’s a way,” you pause, biting your lips.
“If there’s a bank here you should look into it and check it. Maybe your father will be unable to come so he’ll have to send you enough money to return through it.”
White Marsh begins to flail her fan, breathing heavily. She looks at you, then at her bodyguards and gulps. The mare tries to calm down but her eyes betray her. She finally speaks in a whisper, “You are right, respected Cold Deck. We shall do that. The sooner we send the letter, the better.”
You understood her on half a word, removing two chips from your shirt and putting them on the table. Fiber Stone picks them up to not bother the “Forbidden Fruit”. He looks at them suspiciously. He asks, “Are those really the tokens?”
“Yep,” you say with a small smirk, “I also can’t believe that those small, wax things are worth a hundred bit each, but that’s the absurd reality of Maneami.”
The bodyguard harrumphs but doesn’t say anything more, putting the chips into his deep pocket. With a gentle motion, “Forbidden Fruit” stands up and offers you a gracious nod.
You’ll meet her again quite soon; there’s no reason to say farewell now.
As soon as they leave, Marth’ asks a question. “What…What do you think about her?” he says plainly. He tries to keep a straight, serious face but a painful cough escapes his lips.
She's in over her head. If she doesn't get help from her father then she might end up in a lot of trouble.
So Marth, you're an experienced gambler, right? 'Black Cat' is a pretty cool alias. I didn't know you were such a badass.
Do you have any gambling specialties?
“She’s in over her head. Most of the ponies in here boiled in the Canterlot soup and know how to cheat and trick and gamble, Marth’, but she and her bodyguards are probably screwed if they can’t get her father to help her. She’ll be in a lot of troubles, probably.”
“You’ll help her though?” he asks you.
“Well,” you narrow your eyes, “I don’t have to, and we have our own troubles.” You catch his glare on yourself and shrug it away awkwardly, “But I’ll try my best. Say, it seems you are actually an experienced gambler yourself. ‘Black Cat’ is a pretty great nickname. What games do you prefer?”
He trembles from the cold, pushing his hooves around his body. He looks at you with a displeased glance; his eyes are jumping from side to side. He sighs sorely, “I’m not… a gambler.” The sick colt begins to cough, burying his muzzle into his hoof. With a weak voice and sore throat he continues, “But I guess there’s no use in hiding it. You probably were told everything already. I’m just... having a strike in the casinos. I learned that I have that and that’s how I helped my mother money-wise. The name was given to me by the others,” he coughs, “I simply walk into the Casinos, play some blackjack or roulette and leave. I don’t care for the insulting whispers.”
“I see, but a complete randomness can be thrilling as well,” you smirk, nudging him.
He begins to massage his sorrow shoulder, “And what about you…? Do you have a life to return to in Equestria, Cold Deck?”
You do not have a family of your own, or any close friends for that matter. Your parents met and married each other at their olden years and so, by the time you were born, they were already middle-aged. Currently, at your twenty years, they are in the age of grandstallions and grandmares.
Since you left your nest they have been peacefully flourishing their remaining years in their little house.
“No, I planned to start a new life here,” you sigh, “That bastard prince ruined any chances of me doing what I know best in Canterlot or Manehattan; Gambling. My Cutie Mark is an Ace of Hearts, my destiny is to gamble, Marth’.”
He timidly bows his head, “I’m sorry for reminding you about that…”
“That’s… don’t worry about it,” you say, trying to regain your composure, “Maneami is very different, but perhaps it is exactly the home I’m looking for.”
The old, scrunched mare glares at the two of you, her empty eye staring into nothingness. She stops right in front of Marth’. This makes the colt uncomfortably lean as deep as possible into his chair. She picks the pouch left to her by the White Marsh and, without counting or weighting it, she puts it on her back. She then looks at the two of you once again, as if waiting for something.
When the seconds pass, she finally starts the conversation herself:
“If you are finished with your food, you can get out. This is a tavern not an inn,” she says.
“Thanks for the meal,” you and Marth’ say in union, standing up from your chairs.
“Yeah,” she frowns, “Yeah. You’re welcome. Now, if there’s anypony else outside, call them in.”
With that said, she slowly steps back to the black, boiling cauldron on the fireplace.
Both of you pick up your things and, with a full stomach and some new information about each other, you leave the self-proclaimed tavern. Once you close the wooden door behind you, you notice several spots on the sky covered in bright stars, pushing through and against the darkened clouds present. The shore wind was slowly raising, the cold air was poking at your skin.
>What do you plan to do now?
Once the night falls there is not going to be much you can do. Marthables has told you that he’s used to sleeping in trenches and cold places but, you decide that the sick colt had enough by now and the least he deserves is a sleeping bag. You really would prefer a comfortable room with a fireplace but probably, those rooms cost a lot of chips. Even for a night one chip is…that’s absurd.
The night is not as energetic and wild as you imagined, but perhaps it’s unfair to compare and judge Entrée Isle to the Maneami. The Casino is still open, of course it is, but it is the only place in the whole island with giant, neon lights and some sort of entertainment. Everypony who managed to get in is inside there, having fun and losing their chips.
The “cottage district”, the zeppelin platform and even the pier appear to be silent, if not dead. You could probably find a couple of ferryponies who are still managing their ships but beyond that? Nothing.
If there’s a shop that sells clothes or any kind of inventory on the Entrée Isle, it’s not in plain sight.
Perhaps you’ll have to buy a room after all?
You ask the residents of the shanty district for any potential shops but all of them shake their hooves and heads, some even demanding payment for their answers. They say that there are only a couple of shops in the entire Entrée Isle, those being the ‘Maneami Touch’ shop and the ‘Neon Tomato’ food shop. While the first sells a lot of items or services which have a connection to Maneami Isle, they say they are very expensive and niche. The other shop, ‘Neon Tomato’, sells common food ingredients. But even the most rural food shop in Canterlot has a small “inventory” display, why would this be any different?
You decide to venture towards the food shop, hoping to find what you are looking for. If the shop is closed or does not sell the inventory you need then you’ll have to rent a room or sleep outside, in the cold, without any sort of protection or covers. That might be not the greatest idea.
To your disappointment, while the shop is opened, it does not sell the sleeping bags you need. While that was not the case, Marthables offers you a new idea that might be helpful for your situation. The gentlecolt behind the counter has mentioned that, while he usually takes bits, he allows purchasing five items of choice for one Maneami Chip.
“Cold Deck,” Marth’ says, coughing, “I know it’s not my money but…”
“It’s your money, Marth’,” you smile at him warmly, “What’s your idea?”
“We can buy a packing bag for each other and those long coverlets. They are not going to,” he barks, “I mean… ugh, they are not going to replace the sleeping bags, but that’s something… Right? And then we can buy one more item as well?”
There are fresh vegetables and fruits as well as oat and hay products. That's the majority of the items in the shop. The coverlets are in the small display of household goods. There are the essentials, like washin powder, cooking utensils, diy items and so on.
Pony's can live off of just hay, right? We should get as much of that as we can. It'll be nice not having to worry about food later.
Also sorry OP, but it's 2:40 am here in NZ. I need some sleep.
You and Marth’ decide on purchasing the biggest hay production you cope to find. That product was a dozen hay flapjacks, compressed, packed and ready to be eaten either cold or warm. If your calculations are correct you, and they probably are, you and Marth’ will be able to live on them for at least five more days. Maneami requires crazy amount of money to even have the basic necessities; if you can keep your own food and “coverings” then you might avoid the scam.
You pay the chip for two immense and deep backpacks, two warm and big coverings made out of sheep wool and, for your fifth item, you add the hay flapjacks. The shopkeeper gratefully accepts your offered chip and pushes the items towards you. You mutter him a ‘Thank you’.
Once you two exit his shop he closes the door on two locks and extinguishes all the candles inside, preparing himself for bed. It was about time for you and Marthables as well.
“Somewhere where it is protected from this wind… would be nice,” Marth’ says, coughing.
No matter how paranoid you look, you do not find any presence of ponies around. It seems the majority of ponies on the Entrée Isle either have enough money to leave it as soon as they arrive or they are currently living here, with their own house and their own shop. For ponies that have arrived to here without any money, with a gifted ticket, there are no places prepared. It seems that the Fortune Lord treats you less than special guests and more like experiment rats.
You find a small deadlock between two houses. The walls of the cottage houses are missing windows and have no particular or possible entrance into this place. On the contrary, the walls are rather warm from the constant workings of the chimneys and thus, create a perfect napping spot. ‘Perfect’ it is in the eye of the homeless bums.
You sigh but decide not to complain. Marthables quickly pushes himself against the wall. He places his backpack as a pillow and covers himself into the wool covering. He yawns, clearly tired despite having a pretty swell nap in the cabinet of the Financial Report. Despite your prior uncertainty, you also begin to feel tired and sleepy.
You follow Marth’s actions, lying near him, and very soon, both of you fall asleep.
“Good night, Cold Deck,” Marth’ says against his cough.
You yawn in response, bundling up further into the towel, “Yeah, ‘Night’.”
You dream is a chaotic and absurd one, but you are enjoying every second of it. You dream of finally arriving to Maneami, Island of tall buildings and thousands of neon lights. There are casinos, countless casinos that you enter only to have chips, thousand and thousand of them, rain upon you.
You crawl out of the enormous, limitless pile of money, spewing some as if it was water in your luxurious pool, only to find a golden throne on top of it. There’s a black silhouette of a pony on it, but you easily slap the “king” off his throne and sit on it yourself with no bother about who it even was.
You look upon the Maneami Island from the very top, beautiful and flirty concubines massaging your hooves.
It is a good dream…
You wake up, your neck soar and pained. With a twist and a loud crack, you manage to ease it from the anguish. The sun is absent from the sky; bright pink colors are spread across it instead alike spilled milk, announcing the early dawn before the grand entrance of Princess Celestia. You groan, closing your eyes for just another moment of peace before another hellish day.
But, then, a sudden sensation bursts through your body. Something inside your mind blows out, like a bubble. You open your eyes to see, or to your horror instead, not to see Marthables. He’s gone, completely vanished. His coverings are lying on top of his backpack, nopony bothered to keeping them folded. You jump on your hoof and look around; glancing from side to side.
He’s not here…
You quickly grab the two coverings and, without bothering to neatly fold them, you push them into the backpacks. Suddenly, you notice a letter on top of the Marth’ towel, lying neatly inside an envelope.
You suspiciously glance around before opening it with your hoof. You scrunch as you read it:
>Do not worry, Cold Deck. Your friend is safe… at least for now.
>It was a surprise to learn that you have arrived to Maneami. I’m not baffled by it, although.
>Eventually, a Great Gambler like you should have had reached the place we call “Haven of Risk”.
>Cold Deck. Cold Deck, it’s been too long. I waited years yet I’m still not prepared for our meeting. >Let’s cut it short, it will be best for both of us. You have two days to reach Maneami. Once you are there, go to ‘Constellation Billboard’. You will know what to do next. Your friend waits.
>Your respected old friend.
You crumble the paper in your hoof; your glance is full of anger. Whoever this “old friend” is, he’s certainly not thinking of the consequences. Blueblood, there’s a line you don’t cross.
You drop the backpacks on your back, quickly trotting towards the pier. Wouldn’t it be easier to just kidnap you, a though passes by your mind. Why go through all of this… to make you suffer? To make you go through troubles and annoyances? Who in Celestia’s name is that arrogant?! Whoever kidnapped Marthables is not the person who wrote the letter, that much is clear…
You stop on the morning shore. The appearance of the calm and beauteous sunrise looks more like an insulting taunt than a supposed blessing. Your head turns from left to right, trying to find anypony who could help you. There’s a stallion on one of the ferryboats. He’s chewing on oats and spewing out empty hulls. He raises his eyebrow when you approach him:
“A ticket to Maneami?” he asks bluntly, clearing his throat, “I take six chips for one-way.”
“Have you seen a sick-looking colt?!” you shout, “Pear eyes, Tuscan skin? Looks like he’s dying?!”
The ferrypony coughs on the shells, spitting them violently on the floor. “Check Mate’s glory, colt. You scared me shitless. What are you on about? I just arrived; I have not seen a thing.”
“Somepony abducted our friend,” you say, “He had to go through here!”
The ferrypony waves his hoof, trying to calm you down. He throws a handful of oats into his mouth and begins to chew them. Your distress does not appear to trouble him at all. Once he spits out the shells, he looks at you with a raised eyebrow, “I’ve told you. I just arrived from Maneami.”
“So you left last night! Do you know if any ships left overnight besides yours?” you ask.
“Of course they did,” he says awkwardly at you, “Ships come and go, they can make three trips per day. Now, what ship this “abductor” used is a wild guess, but that wasn’t mine. Now…”
You harrumph at him, glancing around the pier. This will be impossible…
“Your friend got in quite the trouble,” speaks a familiar voice. Aloha tilts his cigarette at you with a smile, taking leisured steps towards you “The news travel way faster than I’ve expected... You look quite worried, Cold Deck.”
“Do you know what happened?” you ask him, anger present in your voice.
Your hooves are trembling.
“Well, of course I do. Actually, I was warned before to look out for her now that she es-“
“Is kidnapping legal in Maneami?” you cut him.
Aloha lowers his opalescent glasses, his purple eyes narrowed in confusion. He takes a quick shot of his cigarette, filling his lungs with tobacco smoke. He then puffs it into the air.
He says, “Kidnapping, what are you talking about? Nopony kidnapped her.”
“Her? What? I’m talking about Marth’! He got kidnapped, I need your help. Come on!”
Aloha blinks at you again, tilting his cigarette in the air above, “The sick colt? Did he now?”
You show him the letter. Aloha bites the cigarette with his teeth and grabs the letter within his telekinetic spell. He turns it several times, reading it through. He raises his eyes at you once but he doesn’t say anything, returning to the message present within. He finally coughs up another cloud of smoke, looking in your direction, “Huh… Alright, I can say: I do not know what’s going on.”
“He got kidnapped,” you bark, “Where’s the law in this city?!”
“Now, hold on there,” Aloha says, “There’s a Peace Court in Maneami, for sure… But I do not think that they’ll bother with this. This letter doesn’t say anything about his name or looks. What I’m more surprised about is the mention of the “Constellation Board”, though it might be just a meeting spot.”
You take a prolonged breath. You try to calm down. Right, Marth’ is not going to die. By now, he’s probably already in Maneami. It’ll be impossible to catch up by now… probably.
“Alright,” you say, chewing on your lip, “Is this “Constellation Board” something important?”
“Well,” Aloha says nervously, taking another deep breath off the cigarette, “I’m not allowed to tell you about Maneami, Cold Deck. Not any more than I’ve already done. Fortune Lord’s executor told me to keep my lips closed but…” he sighs, looking around, “I’ll tell you the basics.”
“Basics will do, Aloha,” you cough, putting the heavy bags on the floor, “Thanks.”
“‘Constellation Board’ is a giant memorial billboard in Maneami,” he pauses, “It’s a tourist attraction and an important history piece of the island. On the billboard, you can find the name and the current “card” of all the “Twenty-One’ members currently in charge. Because of the enchanted nature of the board, it creates constellations of all the members during the night above the Maneami. That’s about as much as I’m willing to risk telling you.”
“Right… Right,” you say, trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together, “What about the mare you were talking about before I mentioned Marb?”
“Oh,” he smirks, “I thought you were talking about Barbed Sweater.
“Barbed Sweater,” you ask, “What in Tartarus did she do?”
Aloha drops the cigarette bud on the ground, whistling out a gentle smoke stream. He waits until the cloud vanishes completely. He looks at you straight, maladresse over his face, “Nothing good, Cold Deck. She delivered two passengers to Maneami last night but instead of returning, she ran away and escaped with the ten chips earned. I don’t care about her running her life by not fulfilling the contract but the money she stoles belongs to the Dice Grind Syndicate. She’s a criminal.”
“What… Why would she do that?” you ask baffled.
The stallion shrugs at you back in response, “She probably still can’t believe her situation.”
This will probably be the last post for tonight. Thanks for playing. Praise the shit#art.
“That mare is far too impulsive,” you say in a grunt, looking at him straight, “She doesn’t understand the potential consequences. Yet… the way that contract works is still weird.”
Aloha nudges his head a bit, “You’ll get used to it, Cold Deck. Just like everypony in Maneami.”
“What’s going to happen to her now?” you ask, note of a concern in your voice.
“Well,” he prolongs, “Depends on who catches her. It’s only ten chips so I do not think the Syndicate is going to bother, unless they met her accidently. I do not know what punishments Dice Grind pushes on those who cross him, nor do I want to. Peace Court would probably put her on way worse jobs for those ten chips than the ferrypony position.” He shrugs, non-bothered.
You slap your pockets, realizing that the thief could have decided to feast on your chips as well. Thankfully, that was not the case. A pair of Maneami Chips are still deep within your pockets.
“And… what will happen if she returns them back before she gets captured? Or heck, maybe she just wants to return the payment hooves to hooves? Afraid it’ll get lost?”
Aloha smirks at you. He grasps his unopened pack with his magic and lifts it from his pocket in the air, “Well, we both know that is not the case, Cold Deck. But I can see it working. What, you want to find and warn her? Didn’t you say you have the sick colt to rescue?”
“I do,” you say, cursing, “There are just too many things happening at once.”
“Well, you better hurry. I’ll be going to Maneami once everyone from your Zeppelin is finished here, should take about six days. Then I’ll see what I can find about your friend, if he’s still gone. But, in the letter,” he says, his lips twitching slightly, “You only got two days. What’s your plan?”
“I’ve got two chips left,” you insist, looking towards the casino, “And my turn is supposed to be tomorrow. If I can pay one to move it, then…”
“You are going to gamble with just one chip?” Aloha grins, “That’s just like you, Cold Deck.”
Could you arrange a high stakes gamble for us, Aloha? Surely there are others out there looking for a game to play.
You could gather all eager gamblers together, set up a big game and then take a cut of the winnings at the end.
“That’s my destiny, Aloha,” you grin, “I live to gamble and I gamble to win.”
He snickers at you, a blink trespass through his opalescence and fogged glasses. He tightens the magical grip on his pack of cigarettes and pulls one out of it. He is quite the vivid smoker; something like a pipe will work much better for his harmful habits. He begins to pull out a second smoke but you stop him with a shake of your head. Despite potential insult, you do not want to.
“Can’t blame you, the stuff costs a lot,” he leers at you, biting the bud. “I do not think that you’ll have much luck in the boring slots and roulettes, though. Maybe in craps…”
“Can you tweak a high stake gamble for us,” you ask timidly.
“Heh,” he pauses, “High-stake, Deck? Did you forget you have nothing to wager if something like that happens?”
“Maybe you could gather a lot of gamblers together and thus, it will be a big stake from all us against the casino?”
“Hm…” he thinks for a second, “Sounds like a lot of work. It’s up to the Casino…”
“Can you at least discuss it with the…”
“Floorhead Brass Rhyme, that’s his name. I’ll see what I can do,” he smirks, “I’ll attend.”
>Casino it is?
You nod to Dice Grind’s worker with gratitude. Staying on his good side has worked so far. He moves towards the enormous, multi-floored building with an easy, slow pace. Despite your dislike of the way he threats your serious situation, you follow his gait exactly.
You stop just a few meters away from the entrance. Aloha goes in first. He simply smiles at the bodyguards and whispers them no more than a single sentence. Those two words are enough to make the guards shuffle and let him enter sacrosanct. Now, Aloha is going to try and hopefully moot out a challenge for you. You have some time to waste before that.
The guards stop you as soon as you approach. They do not remember you. You tell them your full name. They set in to carefully consider and check the calendar queue. With a cocky smile, you can’t help it, you hang them the chip before they can even open their mouth. One of the guards nods at you, puts the chip on the calendar and quickly scribbles down a few notes on the board.
They allow you to enter the casino, and so you do. To your disappointment, the casino was not any different from any other you’ve visited in Canterlot. There are slot machines, roulette floors and blackjack tables. There are some automatic machines and “hook” apparatus, just like the ones you used to play as a foal. The fluff toys are replaced by way more expensive prices. Curious.
You look around and spot about thirty ponies in total, making that about thirty five with all the croupiers and bar staff. All of the ponies in here are Maneami citizens, Ferryponies or the Entrée Isle shopkeepers. You fail to spot anypony who was with you on the “Beginner’s Luck”. At first. Then you notice Any Question, the rose psychologist, loudly shouting and gambling on one of the tables. Despite the best efforts of the staff, she’s boastful and happy. Oh right, it’s her turn today.
You decide to silently creep to her side. It would be a bother to interrupt her or the current players in her gamble. You raise your eyebrow as you stand by another’s pony side, a wealthy stallion in a suit with a multi-striped tie. It is odd but the table of their game does not appear to be intended for blackjack, poker, roulette or any other traditional casino game.
The table has a tall, wooden urn in the center with about dozen small and thin sticks, that’s about it if you do not count the current wager from every side of the table, so far its two chips from three sides, plus two chips from the remaining two sides, and three ponies playing. It appears that there were ponies that have already lost, leaving their space on the table.
Excluding the current three players there’s also a croupier observing the occurring game. He’s wearing flamboyant, silver-like clothes. His hooves are pressed harshly against the table and his gaze is calm yet precise.
A young mare passes by your table, a tray of frosty, alcoholic spirits on her head. You pick one not to look suspicious and out of place. Several ponies follow suit to pick their well deserved drink; one of them loudly compliments her rear after taking a sip. He’s obviously drunk and the mare is obviously shamed yet, nopony reacts to this; neither from the players or the casino guards.
You turn back towards the table, trying to quickly figure out the game. First the players pick up one of the several sticks from the center by their edge. Every stick has about eight circles on it. One of those circles is in red color, unlike the other black ones. Potentially, the colors are divided by rounds. Every round the players make a bet and move their hoof one circle down, hoping for the red circle to appear and inaugurate their victory. If there are no red circles found during the round, the betting phase continues. This way it reminds you of your common poker betting rules.
The players that give up place their stick back into the center where they get shuffled and randomized. So far the three ponies are on their forth circle and there are no decided victor. Any Question has two chips bet on the game. Together with her two opponents and those who left, that would make about eight chips. It was quite the wager to leave in the hands of such a simple game.
You carry on watching Any Question’s game. The only official nearby is the croupier and one of the guards. The croupier appears to be occupied by the current game and wager while the bodyguard is seemingly harsh and laconic. There’s nopony from the official who can explain the game to you, but it’s not that hard to grasp it as you feared. It’s a simple game, too simple. You can get unlucky and have your “red circle” be on the “last spot”. The only way to win in that situation is to have all your opponents give up before they reveal their “red circle”.
So far the trio has went through 4 out of 8 circles without finding the fabled “red” spot. This means that the remaining sticks have either 5th, 6th, 7th or 8th spots hold the “red circle”. Since there are only three players and sticks remaining, this means that one of the spots will be left unused.
The three ponies exchange glances and finally, they gently slide their hooves downs by one spot. All of them break the heavy air with a trembling breath, awaiting the results. Any Question grins, the expression on her opponent’s face quickly shifting into one of complete forfeiture. She holds her stick towards the center, the red spot embodied into the 5th circle. Croupier offers her a nod.
“Side Number Three is the announced winner! Eight Maneami Chips is the current rounds packet!”
The ponies start to loudly clop, some even whistling her name. Her opponents sully from their absolute defeat. They gallop from their occupied sides, moving away from the cursed table. Any Question slides her winnings into her large pocket, grinning from eye to eye. Eight chips.