It was dark outside when he woke.
He didn’t feel as awful as he did earlier, which Vathion suspected meant that he had felt a lot worse than he thought. Amazing how sitting in meetings all day could be so tiring. Getting his cane, he shuffled out of his room to find Scheerahis and Luth in the sitting area. The Varas sat on the other side of the tea table from Luth, frowning at the handful of cards. Next to him he had a fairly impressive stack, compared to Luth’s.
Vathion shuffled over and sat in a chair where he could watch them both.
“Want in?” Luth asked.
“What are you playing?”
“Three Cards Down. He’s surprisingly good at it?” Luth set down his cards dealt six for Vathion and handed them over.
Vathion fanned them out, sorted his cards, looked at what was on the table.
Luth said, “Though I wonder if he actually understands what’s going on.”
Amused, Vathion asked in Varas, “Having fun?”
“Fun?” Scheerahis asked. “I don’t understand the point of this strategy exercise.”
“Its a game,” Vathion said. “Its your turn.”
“I know. The point of this is to collect these in my pile, yes?”
“Yes,” Vathion said.
Scheerahis selected three cards and placed them on the table.
“The point of this game is to add the cards together to equal or get as close to the number on the face-down card in the middle,” Vathion said.
“Oh,” Scheerahis said and looked at the cards he had just laid down. “I was trying to get them to equal five.”
“Good strategy,” Vathion said, “Really good strategists will keep track of what numbers have already shown up and plan their next three down based on the likelihood of what is left in the stack.”
The Varas squinted up at him. “Do you do that?”
“Yes.” Vathion selected three cards and set them down. Luth dropped his three down and flipped the card in the middle.
“How are you supposed to get two?” Scheerahis asked, confused as Vathion was handed the target card.
“Three of the same suit gets you a card with a two or one.” Vathion pointed out the markings in the center of the cards. “That also tips the scales in your favor if you and someone else at the table were on target or had the same number in your three-down.”
“But if you both have the same,” Scheerahis paused for a moment and made an attempt to pronounce the Gilon word, “Sut?” Scheerahis asked.
“Suit,” Vathon corrected, “Points are awarded based on the single card you each set out as a duel. If your number is higher than his, you get the point,” Vathion explained as he set down his three cards face-down this time. “Also, Luth has been being nice and letting you see the cards he’s picked to lay down. Its usually played with all cards face-down until the point is revealed.”
“So I am not as good at this as I thought,” Scheerahis said in disgust and laid three cards face down.
Vathion laughed softly. “Considering you don’t understand a word he says and you’re winning? Be more proud of your accomplishments.”
Luth set his cards down, then flipped them and the point card. Vathion revealed his. Scheerahis turned his cards over. Luth slid the point card over to him.
“Why did I get it this time?” Scheerahis asked.
“You put down the Emperor. That automatically makes your three equal the point. There are only two of those in the deck,” Vathion explained as he drew enough to replenish his hand.
“Deck,” Scheerahis pronounced carefully. “Is what all of these… Card are part of.”
“What are these suts?”
“Suits,” Vathion corrected again. As they turned over their cards, he pointed, “Fences, Wheel, Flower, and Sword.”
Scheerahis took a moment to look more closely at the Sword, then set it down. Luth took the point card then dealt out the last few cards to refill their hands.
They set out their cards and flipped. The point went to Scheerahis.
“There’s no point left,” Scheerahis said, looking at the three cards he still held in his hand.
“Whoever has the highest total gets the point,” Vathion said and laid his cards out the same time Luth did.
Scheerahis glowered at his cards and set them down, revealing a pitiful total of three.
“That’s where all the ones went,” Luth said and snorted. He started sweeping the cards together and shuffling them. “Another?” he asked Vathion.
“I suppose. Long as you don’t mind me drilling him on numbers.”
“Seems a good place to start,” Luth agreed and dealt again.
“How does he do that with… Card?” Scheerahis asked and picked his cards up once he had all six.
“You’ll have to ask him to teach you how to shuffle the deck later,” Vathion said and leaned forward to take his cards.
“Shuf. Deck,” Scheerahis muttered looking hardly pleased. He laid down his first three. Vathion finished sorting his cards and put down his selection then replenished his hand.
Luth turned the point and his cards over.
Vathion pointed at each card and said their value and suit. “Repeat,” he ordered Scheerahis. The Varas stumbled through pronouncing all the words and took the point when he was done.