Roland’s Crusade (Short Story)
Roland sat with his back against the wall. He sighed as he shifted in his seat. With his cloak covering his face he began tapping his fingers against the chair. “Will you stop that?! You move as if you were a child!” exclaimed a voice. Roland stood up and faced the group of men with his fist clenched. “Which one of you spoke?” Puffs of flame escaped his mouth as his eyes burned red. His question was met with silence. The young rogue pointed at a burly man carrying a large claymore. “Was it you?” The man promptly shook his head. “Or was it you?” This time he pointed at a frail elderly fellow who kissed his teeth. “Oh, how great this cowardly person must be. To only speak anonymously amid a crowded room. I reckon he has a split between his legs and no apple to speak of. I mean that voice did sound a bit feminine.” Laughter filled the room.
Roland took his seat once again where he began tapping his fingers furiously. The metal door swung open to reveal a short man wearing a giant red top hat and blue pointy shoes. “Let’s see who is next…ahh yes. Roland Lamont, Jasper Convene, and a Mr. Von Goulash.” A man dawning a gold and black cloak with star earrings stood up. While holding his hands at his hips he spoke. “It’s actually Baron Von Goulash sir. It would please me very much if you tried that again.” The dealer cleared his throat. “I suppose…that wouldn’t be a problem. Baron Von Goulash please come in.”
The three players entered the room to view the aftermath of what had transpired previously. In the middle of the room was a large circular table where cards and poker chips could be seen sprawled on top. A large bulbous man could be seen covered in blood eating a pastry. Across from him laid the body of one of the lads that had entered previously. His throat was cut in a crude fashion. The jagged blade was still stuck inside. Jasper covered his mouth as he approached the table. “W…what…what happened here?” The bulbous man spat on the floor. Cherry sauce leaked onto his shirt as he spoke. “He was a cheat. I don’t tolerate swindlers, shysters, and above all cheats! Now let’s play some cards.” Jasper grasped the neck of his collar as he took a deep breath. Baron Von Goulash sat down with a large smile on his face. Roland pushed the body of the cheat aside and sat down. “The game is Morrow City hold up. The buy in is five thousand lion dollars. With an additionally two thousand allowed. Play a fair game and you won’t get your throat slit.” Said the dealer.
Roland began grinding his teeth. After the first deal Roland glanced at his cards and smirked. “All in”. Jasper bit his lip for a moment before folding. “Haven’t you ever heard of a gentleman’s game? What kind of scoundrel plays in such a manner?” Said Baron Von Goulash. Roland licked his lips. “I didn’t come here for a gentleman’s game I came here to win your money. Make your play Baron Von whatnot” Baron Von Goulash began to turn red. He took a sip of wine before folding. “I rather not…for cards are a game like fine wine. Slow to the taste will make not waste!” The bulbous man dawned a vague expression. Several moments passed while the two men stared at each other. The dealer was the first to break the silence. “Master…Master Vaughn…do you fold?” With swift justice Vaughn slapped the dealer across his face. “How dare you speak my name in front of these nobodies!” He slammed both his fists against the table. “Get me my two thousand! I call and I raise two thousand. That is a total of seven thousand in case you can’t count rogue!”
Roland smirked and reached for his coin purse, dropping it onto the table. “Seven thousand. Feel free to count it…my numbers ain’t so good master Vaughn!” He said with a grin. Vaughn winced. He dropped his cards revealing a straight flush. Jasper widened his eyes while the baron took another sip of wine. “Open your hand boy!” Said Master Vaughn. Ignoring this slight Roland opened his hand to reveal a royal flush. “Sorry master…it looks like you came up a little short.” Vaughn stood up and walked towards a large grey cabinet. “You think you’re funny huh? Do you know who I am?” Roland nodded. “Yes…you’re the man who just lost seven thousand lion dollars.” As Vaughn opened the cabinet he began to rummage through its contents.
The dealer widened his eyes while backing away from the table. “Sir Roland…please take your winnings and go. I don’t want any more trouble.” The rogue removed his hood and began to lean back, placing a foot on the table. “I’m quite comfortable where I am.” Baron Von Goulash scoffed. “You are about as bright as you look. Everyone in the underground knows Master Vaughn is the most ruthless host in the city.” An eerie expression crossed the young rogues face. “So ruthless that he would kill a twelve year old girl for spilling ale on his new leather boots.” Jasper gasped. “I heard about that…he cut off her foot before making her walk across the bridge of spirits. Then he shot her in the back with a crossbow. But what does that have to do with anything…kids die all the time.” Roland shrugged.
“Nothing I suppose…except that little girl had a brother…and that brother had a friend. Now that friend came to me and what can I say…I’m a sucker for a sob story.” Master Vaughn emerged from the cabinet dawning two golden crossbows. “You can very well join that foolish wench in the grave.” Master Vaughn aimed at Roland’s throat as he pulled the triggers. In one swift motion, the rogue dodged the projectiles landing in front of Vaughn. He removed his dagger and held it at the man’s throat. “Now…this is the part where you beg for your life.” Said the rogue. “Wait…wait…I got money!” were the last words he spoke as he drew his final breath.
“Tis a sad man who lives life without gold, but an even sadder one who only lives for it.”
– Roland Lamont