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Captain of the Guard: Another Wager

September 13, 2019

The camp had suddenly gone quiet. Women had stopped dancing. The sound of the bonfire cracked and hissed in the sudden stillness. The rest of Cedric’s men, spread around the camp, had enough sense that things could get bad very quickly and made their way back to Cedric with the obviousness of men that are trying to be subtle and look nonchalant. All except Reg who was already much poorer, but then money really didn’t matter where he was headed.

The traveler looked at the money. “The camp boss will cover it.” But there was uncertainty in the man’s voice.

Three men approached. The middle one was bigger than Cedric and brawny. Most people would have assumed that he was the muscle, but there was a savvy intelligence to him.

“What’s the problem?” His eyes took in the money and the blade Vul had at the throat of the thimblerig operator.

The thimblerig operator looked at the blade at his throat and then at the camp boss, “I lost a rather large wager.”

“You lost.” The big man frowned. He looked at the size of the wager on the table.

The thimblerig operator swallowed noticeably.

The camp boss turned to Cedric and smiled, “We are reasonable men, perhaps we can make some kind of accommodation.”

“The dog.” Alstone whisper in Cedric’s ear.

“Free the hound, and we’ll call it even.”

The camp boss looked surprised, “You want one of our dogs?”

“Not one of the dogs, the three headed one. I want you to free it.”

“Be reasonable.”

“Then the money please.” Cedric said flatly.

“We could provide entertainment.” The big man emphasized the last word. “I am sure your men are lonely from being on the trail, we have several women that could ease that loneliness.”

Several of the Cedric’s men smiled at that idea. “The money or the hound.”

The camp boss smiled again. “The hound is worth more that your wager, surely you recognize that.”

“Nevertheless, that is what I want.”

“I should let you take this fool’s life as payment enough.”

The game operator squeaked.

“I suppose you could.” Cedric smiled, “But word that you don’t honor a wager would travel before you.”

The camp boss shrugged, “Possibly, but bad rumors are good for our business.” He smiled wickedly. “How about another wager? You win and you get the hound, I win and we call it even.”

“Done.” There was no way he was going to win another round of thimblerig, but at least this way no one lost their money.

Vul dropped the sword from the man’s throat.

The camp boss started to strip off his jerkin and shirt. One of the men with him started pouring ash in a large circle on the ground.

“What exactly are you doing?” Cedric asked.

The camp boss frowned. “I am getting ready for our competition, of course.” He loosened up his arms.

“I thought we were playing another round of thimblerig.”

The camp boss laughed. “Did I say that?”

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