Wednesday Write-in #31: White-capped King

Wednesday Write-in #31 @ CAKE.shortandsweet

Prompts: sniffle  ::  font  ::  northern  ::  powdered  ::  pick a card


It’s in the northern part of this state that the mountain peaks are always white-capped, their slopes powdered with virgin snowfall. It’s where the children sniffle in the morning as they prepare themselves for the walk to the school house in the bitter cold. And it’s where King George always takes holy water from the font and crosses himself before finishing his walk to the mills.

They call him that because he always seems to beat his opponents with a king. At least that’s the mystique he’s attained after a lifetime of hard-living in the mountains.

“Pick a card game,” the innkeeper at the Mahogany would say to a wayward traveler come to stay the night as he passed through. And then he’d make a practiced gesture toward the corner. “King George ain’t never lost to nobody.”

The innkeeper always kept the ale flowing and it remained the warm home to the locals and King George until a steely wayfarer arrived one evening, in from the blustery winds of a heavy snowstorm blown in from the west.

The wayfarer stood in the door and dusted the powder off of his shoulders, stomped his boots on the rug before stepping toward the barkeep.

“Greetings,” he said to the innkeeper, who motioned to the room and indicated the man’s welcome. “A plate of roast beef and cabbage,” said the guest, and took the table in the corner without another word.

Before long, the door burst open and in spilled King George with his regular crew of rowdy mountain-men. But their revelry soon ceased when they noticed the wayfarer sitting in the corner. He was still finishing his plate when the men approached the table and sat down without asking. The wayfarer didn’t look up and the crew silently deferred to King George who patiently waited for the wayfarer to finish his meal.

When the wayfarer looked up from his food a calm smile came to his lips.

“What are you doing here?” King George finally asked.

“I came for a game, old friend.”

The king’s men exchanged glances.

“A game it will be, then,” said King George. “And what kind of game does our visitor favor?”

“Whichever the king and his men choose will be fine,” he answered steadily. “Sir? A round of ale for these hardworking men.”

And so they began playing, cards in hand, tall cups of ale about the table. King George dealt swiftly and the innkeeper kept the cups full well into the night. By daybreak the wagers were split evenly between King George and the wayfarer. The king’s men had long ago bowed out–most slept now, arms crossed and heads down on the table.

“It’ll go forever if we keep on like this,” said the wayfarer.

“Indeed,” said King George. “So we play for it all then? Right now?”

“Aye, old friend. We play for it all.”


Filed under Featured Content, Flash Fiction, Wednesday Write-In, Writing

9 responses to “Wednesday Write-in #31: White-capped King

  1. anthony!
    delighted to ‘meet’ you in the blogosphere. perhaps we shall crosspath at some literary happening or another around town as well…
    i look forward to reading more of your work as well1


  2. ndico9

    Unsure as you say you are, I actually think this is one of the better pieces you’ve written lately.


    • @ndico9

      Really? I am surprised you feel that way (in a good way). I’m glad that you enjoyed it — it was a learning experience for me to work in a somewhat different genre (and form).

      Long-winded, I know.


  3. This kept me interested all the way through. I have a niggle to say, in that I would have started the paragraph ‘The innkeeper always kept the ale flowing’ with just the statement ‘One evening a steely wayfarer arrived’. You had established nicely that the inn was the focus for the community, you didn’t need to say more.

    I also would give a word or two to why George was playing the wayfarer. Was he determined to win because of mere ego? Or was there something else at stake? A slightly clearer motive here goes a long way.

    This is very good, I really enjoyed it. Thank you!


  4. Elaine McKay

    ‘Old friend’ seems to suggest they have a past, a rivalry,perhaps. It’s an intriguing tale. I like the first paragraph very much. I am not sure about the second paragraph,though. I think you could reveal why he is called the king in a more subtle way. But, liked it a lot.


    • @Elaine,

      Fair enough — I’m not sure about the entire damn story, to be honest. This was a break from some of my influences and writing directions as of late. Thank you for the honest feedback, it’s very helpful.


  5. I loved this – spooky, atmospheric, visual, visceral. I really like the way you don’t spell out what King George and the wayfarer are playing for, so the reader has the freedom to put their own interpretation on it. My own story features a card-game with immense significance, too, so I really admire what you’ve done with the prompts and the deep, complex world you’ve managed to create out of the words. Really great work.


    • @SJ

      Thank you — it’s not my typical story, to be sure. But I enjoy branching out. When I was writing it, I was reminded (oddly enough) of an epic fantasy series by Terry Goodkind called the “Sword of Truth”. If you like writing and reading in this genre, you might like it.

      Thanks again.


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