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.”