schadenfreude

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schadenfreude

Post by Ayvaen on Wed Sep 24, 2008 2:47 am

OOC Forward: Going to be jumping points of view pretty much every post here. The title probably makes no sense immediately even to those who know what it means. For those who don't, schadenfreude is the german word for taking joy in others' tragedy.



It had been awhile since business was good at the Steaming Sheep. The sheep had always got by on its drinks, the sales of which were suffering the most from the sudden period of inactivity. Many of the old regulars stopped drinking altogether, leaving their usual tables barren. The effect was most noticeable late at night, when only the sound of a lonely drunk sobbing into his ale broke the silence, in contrast to the traditional noise of late night parties. But today things were looking up.

Hilda watched the crowd sing, laugh, and dance from the upper balcony. She could barely believe she nearly turned down the stranger's proposition. When he first came to her she was leery; in her time as owner she'd seen many scoundrels hiding behind a charming smile like his. He was a tall, built man with golden, feminine hair, a clean-shaven face, and not a single scar to besmirch his good looks. His unassuming handsome look was worryingly dishonest.

Usually an adventurer without scars is a liar, but not this one Hilda thought to herself. She could see him below: a woman on each arm and a crowd tightly packed around his table with their eyes glued to the cards before him. He seemed good at whatever game they were playing; not that Hilda understood cards, but she did understand money, especially the pile he'd collected at his side.

The day unfolded just as promised; customers came to play the master gambler and also purchased drink after drink. Not a single fight broke out, nothing was stolen, and the tips were nice. It was the most money the Steaming Sheep made in a single day in years.


Last edited by Ayvaen on Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:39 am; edited 3 times in total

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Re: schadenfreude

Post by Ayvaen on Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:01 am

For most adventurers starting out, fame and fortune are an end not a means. They dream of doing a duty to their country and being recognized for their valor, discovering vast riches in some beastmen armory crate, then living a cozy life reaping the rewards of their exploits while bards sing of their accomplishments.

But most treasure hunters end up broke, the easily obtainable wealth they seek was already plundered by the first generation of adventurers. And fame seekers usually wind up dead because of their failure to realize the strength of Vana'diel's non-human inhabitants. Successful adventurers know the world is unforgiving, and that some other occupation must be taken up to support their endeavors.

Vynard was no exception; only his trade was unusual.


Last edited by Ayvaen on Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:29 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: schadenfreude

Post by Ayvaen on Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:25 am

Vynard cradled his chin in his palm, looking intently at the cards before him in his hand. Ace Ace King King Four. He remembered seeing aces in the two rounds before but no kings and suppressed a grin. There couldn't be anymore aces, the deck was only shuffled every three rounds. Realizing this was all the advantage that a skilled player needed to keep an edge above most of the competition. A rudimentary understanding of card counting and probability was beyond the average Vana'dielian, and that was all Vynard needed to consistently win the fuel to his obsession.

He laid down both aces and received a King and a Four in return. His opponent discarded a Five and a Nine (face up, another one of Vynard's rules) and took two cards. Final bets were placed accompanied with poker faces, and then the cards were shown.

"Full house beats a pair, sorry friend." Vynard smiled at his opponent apologetically and swept the gil across the table adding it to his pile. The onlookers cheered with amazement while wracking their brains attempting to figure out the secret of his success. His record wasn't flawless, but even when he lost, the amount changing hands was never significant, and he always seemed to know when to fold.

Vynard glanced at his profits out of the corner of his eye, estimating the day's take. He'd become adept at such subtleties from previous experience, which told him he had a little over 200,000 gil. That was more than enough for his purposes a few weeks, but he'd intended on a larger sum. No matter, he thought to himself, It's early yet, and the darker the sky the steeper the bets.

"A round for everyone, on me!" Vynard exclaimed to the nearest waiter. The pub's inhabitants cheered at what they mistook for a gesture of charity. He was making an investment; drunk men play worse and bet more than their sober counterparts.

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Re: schadenfreude

Post by Ayvaen on Wed Sep 24, 2008 10:48 pm

"Doubling your bet every time ensures that previous losses are compensated for by the eventual victory." Vynard spoke to the other player in as he rose from his seat in a gesture of defeat. A mocking tone crept into the hume's words involuntarily as he finished his statement, "Sadly, this strategy only works if one achieves a victory before running out of capital." The crowd hushed, expecting things to take a turn for the worst. The atmosphere changed from joyful clamor to uncomfortable silence.

Vynard knew his fundraiser would be over for the night if this man decided to respond in a physical fashion, and did his best to look innocent and smile reassuringly to the crowd. Without a word his rival walked off and the stormclouds seemed to part. The dancing and drinking continued, but the seat on the other side of Vynard's table remained empty. He'd assumed the crowd finally lost its will to go against the odds when a mithra plopped down into the seat across from him, setting her bottle of Rolanberry on the table's edge.

"'I. I'll play y'." The little Mithra spoke confidently from across the table with a smile.

An accent or a slur? Vynard was careful not to let a hint of his confusion slip into his expression, Probably a slur, she's been drinking. She's got such a warm expression and friendly tone, couldn't be a pirate. Pretty too, no scars. He responded in a welcoming tone, having made up his mind about her, "Honored to play with a lady. My name is Vynard Raenellous. Yours?"

"Xenedra Alchmage. M'aware of th' rules, I've been watchin' fer a bi'." He let his gaze wander as she spoke, paying little mind to her words. Her small pinkish top left her middrift and shoulders in plain view for his admiring eyes, which then traveled to her chest and face as subtly as he could manage. He realized her body looked familiar and a moment later it dawned on him why; he'd been appreciating her looks in between the last couple of hands.

"In a hurry to play? I can understand that, forgive my formalities then." He picked up the deck of cards and shuffled them effortlessly in a fancy fashion. He went through his arsenal of card tricks complete with seamless transitions, aiming to inspire a little awe.

"Don' y' think tha's enough shufflin'?" She castrated his act with a friendly tone, making it obvious she'd be hard for him to impress.

"Right, of course... lets play then." He began to deal the cards.

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Re: schadenfreude

Post by Ayvaen on Wed Sep 24, 2008 11:38 pm

With each loss Vynard's attitude and expression seemed to change: theatrics began to melt away, his smile turned to a look of intense concentration, his fluid movements were replaced with frustrated, rigid gestures, and his pile of gil shrank rapidly. Xenedra on the other hand, remained calm and pleasant.

"Thank y' fer th' good game." Another smile. "M'sure y'll win nex' time." An agreeable nod. "I canno' understan' why luck's favorin' me." The same warm inflection in her voice. "Full 'ouse... does tha' beat yers?" In five hands she'd taken the entire pile he'd built over the course of several hours of playing. "'Ow abou' y' be' yer spo' a' th' table?" He lost even that.

"You are very good..." He had to admit that whoever she was, she was better than him. Something might be salvaged from this yet. He decided to take on the persona of the gracious loser, "Can I buy you a drink and have this next dance?"

"I don' think my 'usband would like tha'." She said gently, trying to avoid any further unpleasantness. He turned around in his chair to see a man with his arms crossed leaning back against the wall with a discouraging look on his face.

"Oh." This time Vynard stood without another word, it was his turn to exit as the loser.

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Re: schadenfreude

Post by Ayvaen on Fri Sep 26, 2008 1:17 am

OOC: This takes place chronologically around the time that the first line was delivered as the last line in the story two above.



"Right, of course... lets play then." The golden-haired man placed five cards before each of them in turn. Both players picked up their respective hands, facing the backs to the other, and surveyed their luck.

Xen! He's got trash! A five, a nine, a king, a jack, and a two. While he didn't know the golden-haired man, he knew didn't like him. Ayvaen leaned against the wall looking smug at his undetectable, karmic cheating.

Thank y', but I don' need th' 'elp. Please don' chea'. Xenedra responded calmly, appreciatively, but decisively against Ayvaen's behavior. She wanted to win on an even playing field in contrast to the gambler's earlier victories.

Ok, but if he stares at you like he did a minute ago I'll... Ayvaen realized he didn't have any suitable actions to finish his threat with. Not even he could justify hurting a man over something so petty, and he could think of nothing else, Not like him even more.

A giggle from Xenedra interrupted the silence, followed by a quick, sincere apology, "Mm... sorry." Soun's like a very serious threa' dear.

It is! Seconds later he realized it wasn't. Well I'll do something if he continues to be a lech. You're a married woman and a mother no less. This guy has no class. Ayvaen concluded that while there was no way this stranger could tell she was married or a mother simply by her appearance, he was going to remain angry anyway. Ayvaen crossed his arms defiantly, resigning to be a reluctant spectator with a small, "Hmph."
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Re: schadenfreude

Post by Ayvaen on Fri Sep 26, 2008 3:08 am

Never in Vynard's life had he done so badly against a normal person; much less a woman. It was true he wasn't the most skilled player, but typically his skills were more than sufficient for the kind of people who frequented his venues. He'd even played well against her; he made no errors in counting or estimation, and still lost every hand and the entire night's take in fifteen minutes.

Clearly there's more to her than is readily apparent. He thought, watching her quietly from across the crowded room. Is she a con artist? A gambler similar to myself with a more unassuming exterior? Or perhaps just an ex-pirate... He could see her speaking to her supposed husband who looked suspiciously familiar. Vynard observed them order several rounds of drinks and down them quickly, and yet they showed no signs of intoxication. They sure aren't normal. His wounded pride was gradually overcome by curiousity, and he found himself approaching their table with a tribute in hand.

"Peace offering." He said, and offered his most charming smile while setting down a dated bottle of Rolanberry, "Might I have a seat?" The couple immediately exchanged a glance which seemed to convey more than a lengthy conversation.

"Alrigh'." The Mithra who introduced herself as Xenedra spoke first with an uneasy tone. Vynard got the feeling he was welcome as far as she was concerned, but that her companion had a different opinion she was somehow aware of.

"Thank you." He pulled out a seat across the table from them and continued, "I see you're pretty good at cards. I have to admit, I was impressed."

"Thank y'. I've go' lo's o' practice." She said with a warm smile.

"That explains it." He knew there was more to it than that, but wasn't prepared to push for an answer. His instincts told him that was a bad idea, "So you're a card player, and what does your husband do...?"

"She's more of a mage than a card player. And a mother." The previously silent man spoke in a clearly unfriendly tone. He made no attempts at pleasantries, "And I'm an alchemist. Thus the last name."

"I had wondered about that..." He replied. A mother, makes sense. She has that quality to her, but... "You're a mother? You look awfully--"

"Yes. You can stop there." Xenedra's husband interrupted him mid-sentence and cast a violent glare in Vynard's direction.

"Erm... perhaps we got off on the wrong foot." Vynard was no stranger to combat, facing off against vicious opponents was part of his hobby, but he couldn't help but be slightly intimidated. There was something familiar in his malicious gaze that shook him and reminded him of something, "I wasn't trying to hit on your wife. My name's Vynard, yours is...?"

"Sure you weren't." The man responded flatly, once again making no attempt to hide his skepticism, "Ayvaen. Ayvaen Alchmage."

"Ayvaen..." The name was familiar, but he couldn't place it. "Pleased to meet you. truly I meant no offense."

Ayvaen's passive-aggresive response heralded an uncomfortable period of silence, "If you say so."

"Wha' d' y' do mister Vynard?" Xenedra broke the silence with a friendly question, hoping to steer things in a more positive direction.

"You'd think I'm a gambler, but cardplaying is just my trade. I'm an adventurer." He said, nodding, "It's expensive to get proper gear and supplies, especially for the sort of things I do..."

"Ah...?"

"I operate mostly in Elshimo. Tonberry safari doesn't really pay for itself." Vynard felt the atmosphere become even more tense. He wondered if maybe he'd been misunderstood somehow, "Gotta have an ace in the hole if you want to keep from going into the red. They're vicious bastards so they require a lot of..."

"Lets go home." Ayvaen spoke abruptly, stood from his chair, and walked away.

"Sorry..." The apology seemed genuine, "If y'll excuse me." She stood a moment later and followed in her husband's wake, leaving Vynard seated alone and terribly confused.

Strange couple... At least I have the table back. He saw an opportunity to salvage what was left of the day and went to work drawing the crowd back to his table immediately.
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