One Against Many


The First Wager

The Second Wager

Sir R-----! Might I presume that you are of a mood for a glass and a wager?

Good fellow! Stout fellow! Come join me in a draught!

I suggest a game oft played in the fair land of Lyonesse which, contrary to historical record, has not forever sunk beneath the waves, but has rather through some oversight been quite forgot in all our atlases.
I had been invited to banquet with the King of that fair and fecund realm, but arrived to find his court in disarray; the Queen had been stolen away by the foul Lord Maleagant! Naturally, I immediately put myself at my host's disposal and set off to rescue his fair bride.
Being a coward of the lowest order, Maleagant put not his security in the honest strength of arms but rather in the utter impenetrability of his fortress, built atop a vertiginous tower of rock off the coast of Kernow by the most deviously minded Masons in the land. That he put his faith in stone over flesh and blood ultimately worked to my advantage; once inside his fortress I had no trouble seeing off his guards and making my way to his throne room. To no great surprise he too proved himself an unworthy adversary. In the work of moments I had scored a deep cut upon his forehead, blinding him with his blood and denying him the ability to prosecute a duel. As might be expected from a fellow of such calibre he took his defeat poorly. As I left with his hostage I heard him crying out "curses be upon you!" and "plague your eyes!"
The celebration of the return of the Queen was lavish beyond measure and I spent many a contented hour in wine and wager with the good folk of the court. Upon my departure I was rewarded with an ornamental bowl which, albeit a little wine stained, has proven a most decorous receptacle for fruits and nuts upon my dining table.

But here I have not told you of the nature of their sport!

Your goal is to cast a greater score upon your die than I do upon mine. Your stake will be seven coins and your prize, should you best my score, shall be thirteen. You shall cast first and, should you be dissatisfied with your score, may elect to cast the die again for the price of a further coin. If this neither meets your satisfaction you may have a third cast for two more coins and so on and so forth, with each cast costing one coin more than the last, until you are content.
I shall have but a single cast of my die once you have declared that you are satisfied with your score and, if I cannot equal or best you, you shall have your prize.
If you do not relish the prospect of trying to best a die that I have not yet cast and you are willing to stake one additional coin I shall instead cast before you commence your play.

Upon learning the rules of this game, that damnable cur of a student of whose acquaintance I am cursed announced with uncharacteristic candour that he had come to realise that his work was backward. Now I have long since recognised that he stands some several leagues behind gentlefolk in every matter of worth, but I was so struck by his honesty that the notion to remark on it quite escaped me.
But you can surely have no interest in news of that wretch's slowly dawning awareness of his station; recharge your glass and name your sport!

Based upon an article I wrote for ACCU's CVu magazine.

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