Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 192,109,998 Issue: 631 | 7th day of Awakening, Y16
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Old Snargan's Bet

by ellafell


The coin spun in the air as the customer sat with bated breath. The faded edges visible in the glinting candlelight, Snargan's betting coin finally landed on his outstretched palm. The old Skeith looked at it and smirked. 'Your money is mine!'

      The slumped form of yet another "satisfied customer" left the room, bemoaning that they'd lost enough for one day. Snargan laughed derisively at the retreating Zafara and quickly counted all of his winnings. He placed them in his now bulging pocket as he heard footsteps echoing down the corridor outside. He couldn't let anyone know what he was doing with King Skarl's money. All was well, though – because he only used it to back his claims. No one ever made enough to truly make a dent in the riches he was set to counting every day as treasurer.

      An hour or so passed before Snargan was able to pull out his lucky coin again. A blue Draik came into the room, quickly plumping down in a chair with a medium-sized bag in hand. 'Fancy a gamble?' Snargan said with a knowing smile. The Draik quickly pulled out his first bet and things started as they usually did. Sometimes getting to 80, most of the time losing at 10 or 20 neopoints. After almost an hour of gambling – and never winning – the Draik still had a strange look in his eye. This look was unlike what he normally saw at this point, and it was unsettling.

      The customer reached into the bottom of his bag yet again, and laid down his wager. Flip; heads. Flip; heads. Flip; heads. Flip; heads... but it didn't stop there. The flips continued to 160, 320, 740, 1480 – yet the Draik didn't collect his winnings! It was as if he only had a goal of reaching a certain point – not even that he had fear of losing the chance of riches!

      A slight unease began to grow in Snargan at the ease in which the Draik continued. Not a hint of fear in his eyes, the Draik continued to nod his head for another toss. As Snargan counted out the possible winnings in his head, he began to notice that the amount was growing near to half the room. How could this pet possibly risk so much? However, he didn't dare open his mouth about the recklessness, for he couldn't afford for the Draik to collect at this point. His only hope left was for his lucky coin to finally land on tails and allow him to keep all of the money in the treasury.

      Heads and heads again, until Snargan was well aware that he had no money left to gamble. The Draik again motioned for another toss. Snargan's hands shook as he took the coin and flung it into the air. As he watched the customer across the table, he knew that his fear was much more than what he could see in his eyes. His mouth went dry when it landed in his hand and a picture of King Skarl stared up at him, already accusing him.

      His usual cockiness gone, Snargan whispered, 'Sir, I have no money left to you except what you can see in front of you.' He bowed low and his bulging pocket clinked. The Draik's eyes rested on the lump in his shirt where all the winnings of the day were kept, and Snargan sheepishly emptied its contents as well.

      The Draik quietly collected all of the treasure in the room into a sack that he pulled from his trousers. Snargan watched with a faint heart as the room slowly emptied into the brown faded sack. The Draik then approached Snargan, with hand outstretched. The old Skeith grimaced and looked down at his lucky betting coin. It's normal gleam almost seemed faded as he dropped it on the table.

      The blue Draik still had a strange look on his face however. Not one of gloating or of pride of the normal winning customers (that always made Snargan so angry) – but of an intriguing grit and duty. Slowly he nodded, took the coin off the table and left the room. With a swing on hinges and a click of the door he was gone.

      Snargan felt weak, sitting in the empty room, so he stood and went to the door and locked it behind him as he exited to his chambers. Once there, he paced back and forth wringing his hands. What could he do? The faeries wouldn't dare extend a helping hand to his gambling with King Skarl's money – especially not Illusen who clearly found such luxury wasteful. Skarl was sure to find out about his treasury, and then what would happen to poor old Snargan? No mercy would be extended, especially in Meridell. Brightvale had the more forgiving brother of the two – the one who was more caring and wise and helpful and rich -

      Snargan stopped his pacing. His wings twitched a few times as he realized his only hope. King Hagan. In going to Hagan, he could trick the other brother just as well, and receive just as much – if not more of the money back for the kingdom! He quickly grabbed a thick cloak and headed out in the night to Hagan's castle in Brightvale.

      Upon arriving, the gleaming white castle stood glaring down at him, and he quickly went under its cover, requesting an appearance before the wise old king himself. The hall stretched long with the green Skeith sitting on his throne at the end. 'Yes? Do you have some wisdom you wish to submit to me?' he called.

      As Snargan reached the other end of the room however, Hagan's eyebrows raised. Snargan quickly proposed, 'I've always believed that greed is comparable to a Skeith.' Snargan cleared his throat and put on his oiliest smile. "King Hagan, your brother, his highness, King Skarl has sent me to request a challenge. You know he is operating under strict truce with the Darigan forces and that he is always in need of more money to gather unto himself until another problem arises. Double or nothing, dear King, for your treasury. We flip a coin. Our treasury is a measly number – I can even show you the accounts, seeing as I am the Castle Treasurer. If heads, you get our debt – if tails, we receive the same unto us, double."

      Hagan nodded and lifted a hand beckoning for someone in the shadows to the left. A Draik walked forward. Snargan gasped as he recognized the same Draik who had taken all of his livelihood, and held the entire treasury of Meridell. King Hagan's hand was open towards him and the Draik placed a silver coin into his palm – it was Snargan's betting coin!

      Hagan shook his head at old Snargan. "You believed you could fool the wise king? I know all of your exploits and sent my own treasurer to show you your misdeed. I have not the authority to keep this money, nor to give it back to you. I'm king over Brightvale, not over Meridell. So this shall be placed in the hands of the highest authority – Queen Fyora herself.' Hagan twirled the coin thoughtfully. 'So which side, Snargan?'

      'Tails,' he whispered.

      Without a moment to lose, Hagan flipped the coin and nodded at it once it landed into his palm. 'Fyora seems to have given you a second chance,' he said, extending his palm to Snargan. 'But I warn you now, Snargan. Greed will get the best of you. Go with the king's money, but leave your winnings for a faithful treasurer. May that be a lesson to you.'

      Snargan's eyes gleamed at the Draik's fingers in his treasure and reached for his betting coin in the King's hand. "Oh, I have learned my lesson, King Hagan, I promise you. Greed – greed had a hold on me..." He twirled his lucky coin. "I won't toss it again."

      The Draik counted out the spare, and handed the sack to Snargan, who quickly heaved it on his back, avoiding the gazes of the other's in the room. He lugged it back home to the castle of Meridell, where he quickly emptied the contents and began counting once again.

      Snargan found himself back in his old place but with a new lesson, indeed. He tends to skirt those confident Draiks yet to this day, but again and again, time and time again the words slip from his mouth to a passing gullible fool; 'Fancy a gamble?'

The End

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