“――― There are generally two types of cards. The major cards: the King, the Mage, the Warrior, the Shepherd, and the Sinner, and their corresponding minor cards: the Crown, the Magic Stone, the Sword, the Sheep and the Chain.”
Salim-san explained as he laid out the cards on the table where the plates had been cleared.
The back of the cards, which were made of several sheets of paper laminated together to make them strong, all had intricate patterns drawn on them in dark blue ink, like a Persian carpet.
When I turned the ‘King’ card over, there was a picture of an old man with an imposing beard sitting on the throne.
Salim-san showed me three of the same ‘King’ cards side by side. All three cards had the same design, but the colours of the small circles in the four corners were different. The circles were blue, white and yellow.
“We both have five cards in our hands, and we have to exchange the cards to make a stronger hand to win. For example, if you have this ‘Blue King’ and a ‘Blue Crown’, then you’ve completed the ‘King’s Role’.”
Salim-san put the ‘Crown’ card with four blue circles in the corner next to the ‘Blue King’. Each card had three of the same colours.
“You can only complete the role if the cards are of the same colour. By the way, the rank of the role goes down as the number of minor cards decreases. A ‘Shepherd’s Role’ with three ‘Sheep’ is stronger than a ‘King’s Role’ with two ‘Crowns’.”
So, the more minor cards you have, the stronger you are and if you have the same colour minor cards then the higher the rank of the major card. It seems that the Mage is a higher rank card than the Warrior.
But you have to be careful with the card ranks.
“You can’t have the ‘Sinner’ card in your hand if you create the ‘King’s Role’, since the ‘King’s Role’ won’t be recognised as a role if you do. Also, the ‘King’s Role’ will lose to the ‘Sinner’s Role’.”
The ‘Sinner’ resents the ‘King’, therefore he’s the ‘Sinner’. He will win against the ‘King’s Role’ even if he loses to the other roles.
However, the ‘Sinner’s Role’ is a risky all-or-nothing role, and your role card will lose a rank if you have the ‘Sinner’ card in your hand, so it’s usually discarded immediately.
Also, one of the reasons why it’s so hard to make a ‘Sinner’s Role’ is because the ‘King’s Role’ isn’t the strongest role in the game.
The strongest role in the game is the ‘State Role’ which consists of four major cards of the same colour (except for the ‘Sinner’) as well as a ‘Crown’ card of the same colour.
This role seems to represent an ideal nation with commoner shepherds as the foundation of the nation, mages and warriors as the protectors of the nation, a crowned king to rule the nation and no sinners. This role isn’t affected by the ‘Sinner’s Role’, so there’s nothing to fear if you can make it.
There is one set of five major roles and three sets of five minor cards each with three blue, white or yellow circles around them, totalling to 60 cards. There are more cards in this game than trump.
Five cards on hand and five facing up on the field while the rest are placed in the deck. The player puts the cards he doesn’t need face up on the field and replaces them with cards from the deck or field.
When the number of cards on the field reaches ten, the player collects the cards on the field, cuts them, reveals five cards on the field again and places the rest at the bottom of the deck.
After everyone has exchanged their cards 10 times (the player can pass if they’ve completed a role card before the 10 turns are over), and no one wants to raise the bet, then everyone shows their cards to each other and the person with the best hand wins.
“Sounds fun, right? Don’t you want to give it a try?”
“… I guess so~.”
I spread out some cards, looked at them carefully then pondered.
“By the way, what happens if there’s a tie?”
“We’ll play until there’s a clear winner.”
“We have to get up early. So, if we have to play, then I’d like it if we only play one round.”
“Alright. I’ll let you sleep in if you lose.”
Salim-san let out a strange laugh through the gaps in his teeth.
We have to help them perform in a nearby village if we lose which would delay our itinerary. Well, we’ve come this far without a hitch and have plenty of time to spare, so I think we’ll be fine.
Besides, maybe they’ll sober up tomorrow and think it was rash to ask amateurs to help. If not, the worst that would happen is that we’ll have to flee. They’ll probably still be dead drunk early in the morning anyway.
“Rille-nee, do you want to try?”
I asked and Rille-nee looked extremely anxious.
“Will it be alright?”
I pulled Rille-nee under the table and whispered my plan to her.
“Eh, wah, you want me to play too?”
“We have a better chance of winning if we both play.”
“But I don’t understand the rules very well…”
“You just need to do as I say. Well, we don’t have to play if you really don’t want to though.”
“… Are you sure you can win?”
“I can unless I have very bad luck. I actually don’t think it’s possible for us to win if we play normally.”
“… Alright, let’s do it. We’re going to play and win, so you can study!”
Rille-nee motivated herself and clenched her first. Thank you.
Let’s give them a surprise!
“Have you decided on a plan?”
Salim-san asked when we looked up.
“Yes, let’s play two against two?”
“We’re not used to this game, so we’d like to play it together. Why don’t we decide the game based on the total score of the roles created by the pair?”
It was an unusual rule, but the other party accepted since there was no money at stake and it wasn’t a serious game. It was Rille-nee and I vs. Salim-san and the Leader Raj.
The beginning of the game was a little strange.
In poker, a person called the ‘dealer’ deals a hand of cards to everyone, but in this game, each player chooses five cards from the cards that were scattered face down on the table. This may be a way to make sure that you don’t hold a grudge against anyone but yourself if your first hand is bad.
Following the example of Salim-san and Leader Raj who were picking their own cards, I also chose ten cards at once.
I then divided the cards in two for Rille-nee and I and checked the cards while covering the cards tightly with my hand. I asked Camilla and Bane to move away since they were standing next to me.
“We can’t see the cards even if you don’t hide them that well~.”
Salim-san laughed at my obvious caution, but I had to be careful.
The order of exchange was: Rille-nee, Salim-san, me then Leader Raj. We took turns since it was two against two, and we were told to go first.
When the deck and five cards on the field were set up and ready to go, I whispered my instructions to Rille-nee.
“Discard the ‘Yellow Chain’.”
Rille-nee put the card on the field like I had said and took a card from the deck. The card turned out to be the ‘White Warrior’. We were exchanging cards one at a time.
Next, Salim-san took the ‘Blue Shepherd’ card from the field and discarded his ‘White Chain’. I discarded the ‘Blue Sword’ and took the ‘Yellow Mage’ from the field.
The next player, Leader Raj, discarded a ‘Blue Magic Stone’ and picked up a card from the deck.
That was the end of one round. No one stated that they had completed a role yet.
Since they promised that we only had to play one game, the game will end in a draw if no role is revealed at the end of the ten rounds.
But well, I don’t think that will happen though.
The game was very nerve-wracking but quiet and ended after the eighth round.
Everyone was able to make roles.
“Well? Let’s have a look, you can reveal your card first.”
Salim-san urged with a smirk as if he was sure they had won.
But we weren’t intimidated by his smirk. We spread our cards on the table.
The people around us, who had been watching the game, erupted in laughter immediately.
Rille-nee’s cards were a ‘White King’, a ‘White Mage’, a ‘White Warrior’, a ‘White Shephard’ and a ‘White Crown’, making her role the ‘State Role’.
She suddenly made the most powerful role even though she was only a beginner.
And my cards ―――…
Salim-san shouted in surprise.
… were a ‘Blue Sinner’, three ‘Blue Chains’ and a ‘Yellow Mage’. My role was the risky ‘Sinner’s Role’ which can only beat the ‘King’s Role’.
“What are your cards?”
Both Salim-san and Leader Raj put their cards on the table with their shoulders slumped.
Salim-san had a ‘Blue King’, a ‘Blue Wizard’, a ‘Blue Warrior’, a ‘Blue Shepard’ and a ‘Blue Crown’.
He had the same ‘State Role’ as Rille-nee, so the scores cancelled each other out.
Leader Raj’s hand, which would decide the game’ was the ‘King’s Role’ with a ‘Yellow King’, three ‘Yellow Crowns’ and a ‘Yellow Magic Stone’.
My ‘Sinner’s Role’ beat his hand, so Leader Raj doesn’t get any points.
Which means! We sisters are victorious!
Rille-nee and I high-fived in joy. Our strategy was a success!
“Why did you have to play the ‘Sinner’s Role…?”
Salim-san glared at me as if he couldn’t accept this. I’ll reveal how I did this trick.
“Because I knew you were going to make the ‘King’s Role’.”
“Hah? … Ah, it can’t be…”
I gave some advice to Salim-san who seemed to have finally understood what had happened.
“Don’t think that you can fool us just because we’re kids.”
Mixed in with the intricate patterns on the back of the card are small letters at the corner of the cards indicating which cards they are.
But they were letters used in the Galesh Kingdom.
Thanks to the books I had borrowed from Fabian-sensei, I could read short words like ‘King’ and ‘Sword’. If I hadn’t known how to read those words, then I would have been deceived by the intricate pattern and wouldn’t have understood what they meant.
When I was taking my first five cards, I could tell that Salim-san and Leader Raj weren’t going to go easy on us, so I chose my cards accordingly.
They didn’t expect that I could read the letters from Galesh, so they fished for the cards they wanted without paying much attention to what I was doing.
The rest of the time, I was careful not to let them read my hand while I was reading theirs and completed my deceitful role.
At one point, I even saved the ‘Yellow Mage’ to prevent Leader Raj from making the ‘State Role’. They couldn’t predict that a beginner would play the difficult ‘Sinner’s Role’.
In addition to cheating, luck was also on our side, and we were able to win.
By the way, I wanted to play two against two because I believed that we might all get the ‘State Role’ if we played one against one which would make the game unwinnable.
“Are you all from Galesh?”
I asked because I was curious and it turned out that I was right.
Not many people in Traus can read their own language, and even fewer people are able to read foreign languages. I guess travellers come from everywhere.
“Say, can we play again? Ah, we’ll use different cards this time!”
“I won’t play again.”
Who would want to play when you might try to cheat again? Even if we did play normally, they had a higher chance of winning since they’ve played this game more and there’s nothing to bet on.
“What a shame… you two sisters would definitely be popular…”
I ignored Leader Raj who didn’t know when to give up, and asked Bane to teach me some songs.
It was fun learning a lot and surprising some bad adults… but my brain was weirdly tired.
We should have dinner earlier next time.