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Interview with Snargan: The Skeith behind the Game

by really_awesome_d00d


MERIDELL GAMES – Double or Nothing. It’s the game that everyone knows about, and that many have mustered the courage or curiosity to play a few times. A fairly simple gambling game, Double or Nothing is played mostly in Meridell, everyone’s favorite feudalist paradise. It’s caused both tears of joy and tears of sorrow in more hopeful Neopians than you might think. Double or Nothing is a game solely dependant on luck – and, of course, the size of the player’s purse.

The instructions on how to play Double or Nothing, as well as actually playing it, are easy to understand and as simple as it can get. There are two players. The first player flips the coin, while the second player watches and begins the bet. The first player is designated to the ‘tails’ side of the coin; the watcher is designated to the ‘heads’ side of the coin. The game begins with the flipping of the coin and a meager bet of ten Neopoints. If the coin lands on tails, the game is lost and the watcher must hand all the money he or she has earned or bet to the flipper. If it lands on heads, the bet doubles and the watcher is offered the choice to flip again, or collect their winnings. With each flip, the stakes are higher.

It’s the risk involved, as well as the possibility of making an enormous profit, that makes this primitive pastime all the more addictive. Although there is an entrance fee, unlike most games, the fee is only a measly ten Neopoints as stated earlier. This is actually more of a trick. If someone loses at say, a bet of 5,000 Neopoints, it is 5,000 Neopoints wasted instantly. It’s all the luck of the die, or in this case, the coin.

Although the founder of the game is most likely long since passed on, most people credit a certain Skeith for Double or Nothing’s current success. That Skeith is none other than Snargan, King Skarl’s foolishly trusted treasurer (as I would later come to find out). How does he do it? And who is this mysterious Skeith? Well, to find out the answer to these questions and more, I decided to go visit him personally on an interview.

When I arrived in Meridell, it took me a while to find the castle. Whenever I asked a shopkeeper in hopes of learning what direction it was in, they’d give me a nasty glance and turn away or stare at me blankly. I figured it had to do something with peasant psychology, or something. (I also figured that the recent wars with Darigan Citadel had something to do with it.) Anyways, I was forced to bribe an Usul dairymaid with several hundred Neopoints before she finally told me how to find the main path. From there, I made the four and a half hour journey to the castle across a narrow, winding path of brambles and thorns. (I have the strangest feeling she gave me the hardest way, but I can’t be sure.)

Once I finally got there, I was completely exhausted. However, I had another challenge that appeared before me: convincing the Draik knights at the entrance that I was not in fact an eccentric leftover minion of Lord Kass, but merely a reporter from Neopia Central hoping to speak with the castle treasurer. Once again, it came to money. I had to bribe them with another several hundred Neopoints before they finally let me into the castle. (I was beginning to think the entire system here in Meridell was based on bribery.)

After entering, the acrid scent of potions met my nose and, reflexively, I flinched. Immediately this was taken as a threat and a beefy Grarrl knight lifted me by the shoulders and threw me out into the moat. After swimming through several feet of sewage, it took me half an hour to climb out from the steep riverbank and another fifteen minutes to figure out where I was, and make my way back to the entrance. There, I found that the Scorchio knights who blocked the front gate had forgotten ever meeting me; it took another four hundred Neopoints for them to "remember".

Exhausted, wet, covered in what I believed was mud, and as stinky as a heap of dung, I stumbled into the castle half-heartedly. The smell of my soggy clothes was enough to block the sharp smell of the potions, which were apparently being brewed in the central chamber. I was too tired to wonder why anyone would brew potions in the lobby of any building, so I trudged to the back of the room where I ran into a familiar face. It was the Grarrl meathead who had thrown me into the moat.

The burly Grarrl knight politely informed me that if I did not pay a fee of several hundred Neopoints, he would personally see to throwing me back into the moat. I did so, trying not to think of all the Neopoints I’d lost over the course of the day, and he stayed silent. When I asked where I could find Snargan, he quickly told me he had no idea what I was talking about and would escort me out of the castle on accounts of lunacy. Already catching onto his drift, I paid him several hundred more Neopoints with a grumble.

Afterwards, he responded that Snargan was most likely counting coins in the treasury itself. Unsurprisingly, he stayed silent after that. After bribing him another five hundred Neopoints, he pointed me in the direction of the hallway that would lead to the treasury. Once I finally got to the heavy wooden door closing off the corridor, I had lost nearly four thousand Neopoints in bribing guards and peasants and smelt worse than Tyrannia in the summertime. This isn’t mentioning the fact that my legs were covered in various cuts from the brambles and a tin can that had brushed me in the moat, and that I was exhausted and sopping wet. I had no energy to open the door.

The Grarrl walked up to me after several minutes of staring blankly at the door and told me that the hallway was off limits. I paid him another seven hundred Neopoints for granting access, and then another three hundred Neopoints for him to actually open it. Finally, he let me in into the hallway, and I stumbled down it, shakily. Finally, I made it to the only door at the end of the hall – a small wooden door. I knocked on it several times, before a voice said:

Snargan: C’mon in, do ye want to play Double or Nothing?

I shoved the door open and walked into a dimly lit room. A fat, unkempt olive green Skeith stared greedily at me with shiny red eyes. I immediately knew that it had to be Snargan. (I had never seen him personally before, I had only played the game a couple times with my pet, Lirasella, who seemed to know everything about it unnaturally well.) He was sitting at a squat wooden table heaped with mounds of silver coins, from which smiling faces of King Skarl gazed unblinkingly up at me. I felt very awkward. Surrounding the table were even greater masses of coins, with even more faces of Skarl. Scattered around the room were locked brown chests I presumed held even more coins.

Snargan: Have a seat, lad. Ye look like ye’ve jest taken a trip ‘round the world, heh.

Me: You have no idea.

Snargan either ignored me, or was too preoccupied with himself and did not hear me.

Snargan: So, ye’ve come to play a game of Double or Nothing, eh?

Me: Actually, I was hoping I could interview you. You see, I’m an—

Snargan snorted, and I could not tell if he was laughing at me, or scoffing at me.

Snargan: Yer jest here to talk, then, eh?

Me: No, I’m wondering if I could interview you…

Snargan: What’s this “interview” ye keep talkin’ ‘bout?

Oh boy.

Me: An interview is when a person, me, asks another person, you, a bunch of questions.

Snargan shot me a vicious glare, and then eyed me suspiciously as if I had just threatened him.

Snargan: Who are ye workin’ fer?

Me: Just the Neopian Times.

Snargan: … I’ve heard of them.

Me: The Neopian Times isn’t a “them,” Snargan. The Neopian Times is the official news source of people in Neopia Central, like me.

Snargan: “News source?”

I suddenly realized how long this might take.

Me: A newspaper. Ever heard of a newspaper?

Snargan thought for a moment.

Snargan: No, not recently.

I sighed. Boy, he was a lot less intelligent than I thought.

Me: A newspaper is a paper that tells everyone what’s going in the world. You know, like the discovery of new lands, or new items surfacing, or wars—

Snargan’s eyes grew thin and vicious, and his mouth curled in a frightening snarl. I resisted the urge to flinch.

Snargan: So yer a soldier o’ Kass, eh? Jest think it’d be nice to get rid of Skarl’s treasy-rur?

I won’t go into detail on what happened next. Just know that by the end, I had the feeling that my head was swelling up to the size of a Funnydew melon. Not to mention my right eye was black, and my arm was covered in bruises.

Me: I’m not hostile! I’m just trying to ask you some questions!

Snargan: … I can see. A warrior o’ Kass’d be much better fighter than ye. So, what do ye want to ask of me?

Finally, I could get down to business. I whipped out a ball-point pen and my favorite notebook and begin scribbling down words as fast as I could.

Me: How did you come up with Double or Nothing?

Snargan: Well, it really wasn’t me, ye see. My father taught it te me, and his father taught it te him, and his father taught it te him, and his father taught it te him… It goes back a long way’s. But me family started it.

Me: Ah, I see. So, do you enjoy playing it?

Snargan: Yes, it’s a fun game. Ye should try it some time, it’s a good way to lose… I mean, earn a couple coins or so. It’s really fun.

Me: Have any celebrities come to visit you to play a couple games?

Snargan: Oh yes, yes they have.

Of course he knows what the word “celebrity” means. Figures.

Snargan: Well, Illusen used te play but then she gots all moody and stopped. King Skarl dern’t know ‘bout it, err… Jeran’s plays a game or two sometimes, and his lil’ sister does too. That red potion-maker girl plays sometimes too, and the guards too. I hear King Hagan’s fancying te play a game…

Me: … Anyone outside of Meridell?

Snargan: Not that I can think of, no. Besides wurd outsiders like you.

Me: That’s nice.

Of course he was lying, or was too stupid to realize that other people outside Meridell had come to play a game. I’d personally heard several, including Princess Fernypoo, criticizing it in the Neopian Times.

Snargan: Anything else?

Me: Yes, I—

Snargan: Not without a fee. I make players pay money, and ye pay money ‘cuz yer blabbing and yabbing too much.

Grumbling, I tore several hundred more Neopoints out of my wallet and shoved them at him, vexed. This trip to Meridell was ending up costing more than it’d be worth. Snargan grunted satisfactorily.

Me: So… How much money do you think you earn a day as the host of this game?

Snargan gave me this horribly wicked grin.

Snargan: That’s fer me te know. And I’m not telling anytime soon. Jest know that these here piles o’ coins wouldn’t be have as large without me.

He smiled. I grinned back awkwardly.

Me: How much money do you think you lose a day through hosting this game?

Snargan: None. Er, lots.

Me: Which is it, none or “lots?”

Snargan: Lots.

Me: … Okay.

There was something definitely up. It was almost as if Snargan was trying to lie to me so it would appear like he isn’t getting any money, when in all actuality he is. Oh well. I didn’t want to break it to him out of fear that he’d beat me up again.

Me: Do you donate the money you earn through this game to other charitable organizations of Neopia? Like the Soup Faerie’s Kitchen, the Tombola, the Money Tree, etc.?

Snargan: I donated some to the effort ‘gainst Darigan ‘n Kass, if that’s what ye mean.

Some? Probably none. He probably didn’t understand or even know about other charitable organizations of Neopia.

Me: Which job do you prefer better: being Skarl’s treasurer, or being the host of the official Double or Nothing?

Snargan: Well, I love being a host but I love serving His Majesty jest as much. So equal, I guess.

Me: Interesting. What’s your favorite part about your job?

Snargan: Eatin’. Either that, or countin’. I love both.

I felt like pointing out to him that eating wasn’t even apart of his job, but I refrained, feeling the throbbing in my temples from the lump on my head. Which was growing, mind you.

Me: I’d like to ask you some more personal questions, if it’s alright with you.

Snargan: Oh, it’s fine. Just fine.

Me: Okay. Where were you born?

Snargan: In Meridell, o’ course. Down by the food shack. They said the day I was birthed, I ate every chicken leg in the whole place.

I nodded, trying to hide laughter.

Me: That’s nice. Who are your parents?

Snargan: My momma was a sweetie; my pa died when I was seven. … Momma used to make me chicken pot pie. Ye should’ve tried some o’ her chicken pot pie… It was delicious. She died a long while back, though… It was a sad day, very sad. I lost thirty thousand Neopoints that day te some dumb cluck down from the glade.

A tear formed in the big Skeith’s greedy eyes; I couldn’t tell whether he was crying over his mother’s death or the loss of thirty thousand Neopoints.

Me: When were you first hired by Skarl?

Snargan: Back when I was a teenage Skeith, the kingdom was goin’ through tough, tough times. My momma’d jest died and I was all alone. Skarl found me and put me in charge of the treasury ‘cuz the old treasy-rur disappeared.

Me: So you got the kingdom of Meridell through a depression? Very impressive skills, I must say.

Oh, might as well add some flattery.

Snargan: Oh no, ye see… Yeah, I did.

Ah, I get it. He didn’t get through any depression. How stupid of me to think that. The only question I had on my mind was why he kept lying, but I would never have asked that.

Me: When did you first start playing Double or Nothing?

Snargan: Well, my pa taught me how te play and I kind o’ played a little bit with some other gamblers in my spare time. After that Aisha girl found us, I knew it’d be a good way to earn some coins so I opened up a chance to anyone to play a game or two, keeping it hidden from ole’ Skarl all the while.

How devious.

Me: Well, I’m just about out of time.

Snargan: Well ain’t that sad. I was jest startin’ to like ye.

Leaving. NOW.

Me: Just one final question for Neopian Times readers: How do you like your cheeseburgers?

Snargan’s face was priceless. It went blank for a second, then lit up with life.

Snargan: … With extra cheese.

Me: I see. Well, goodbye.

With that, I left that stupid room and that stupid castle and left, never planning to return again. Which I knew of course would be impossible, but for the time being I never wanted to hear the term “ye” ever again.

As you can see, Snargan’s not a very trustworthy guy, nor is he that smart. If I was you, I think it’d be wisest to steer clear of him: he’s obviously got something up his sleeve that he’s not telling us. Well, I hope you enjoyed my close-up with Meridell’s least favorite scrooge, and ye stayed tuned for my next interview!

… Did I just say “ye?”

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