The Story of Tom of the Seven Sevens

Once upon a time, in a land far away, a man called Tom returned from a long journey abroad. Weary was he, and tired, with a coin pouch filled with nothing but worthless paper. He sought and he sought for a place to stay, but none would have him when he had nothing to pay.

Once upon a time, in a land far away, the half-orc Bolg and his gang of 7 friends found a man lying spent in a gutter, starving near to death, wearing strange clothes. Pity they took upon him, for they were the Law in Rookroost, and carried him to their place of refuge, an inn with four walls, a window, and bars, which could be had for free for those in need. There Tom rested, and ate of their food, and drank of their drink, and learned, slowly, to speak their tongue, which had previously been strange to him.

When Tom and Bolg could speak to each other, Tom asked how he could go out into the world again to continue his journey. Bolg pondered long and hard on this matter. Tom was the most fascinating conversationalist he and his friends had ever met. Tom's stories of his far away land were ludricously funny and very nearly insane. Tom was surely a danger to himself, Bolg thought, if not to others.

Looking around at his half-orc law gang, Bolg told Tom that he would open the door of the inn if only Tom could prove that he could protect himself on the rough streets by defeating all of his gang in a duel -- at once, mind you, since law gangs and criminal gangs have much in common, and a certain lacking in fairness is one of those common traits.

Tom accepted, of course, having no other option.

Bolg smirked, and laughed with his friends, and then -- for something law gangs and criminal gangs do not have in common is that law gangs have honor even in their lack of fairness, said, "Choose your weapon, and you will soon see why it is better than we keep you here!"

Tom smiled then, quick and sudden like lightning, and said, "Poker."

Never had they heard of a weapon called poker, and much explanation was required. Finally, Tom produced out of his meager bag of possessions a small deck of cards like none Bolg and his friends had ever seen. He taught them to play with his deck of cards, and play they did for a night and a day, all together the room at the Inn, until Bolg felt he was ready to meet this challenge.

When the final hand was dealt, and the final bet laid, a long weekend of poker and gin in the Iron Bar Inn, the moment came for all to show their hand.

The first half-orc said, "I ain't got nuttin' good this time," and left the game.

The second half-orc said, "I've got a pair of twos."

Tom smiled and revealed his first two cards. "Pair o' sevens, beats a pair of twos."

The second half-orc said, "I've got three fours."

Tom smiled broader and said, revealing a third card, "Three sevens, and that's three of a kind, and a higher base than yours."

The third half-orc said, "I've got four of a kind, sixes all, that beats three sevens!"

Tom smiled again, and revealed a fourth card: "Four of a kind to match, and seven still beats six!"

Bolg put down his hand, and Tom saw what he had dreaded: king, queen, knight and knave. A royal flush. "That beats your four sevens," the half-orc said, "and it'll be with us that you are staying!"

Tom lost his smile and shed his grin. He suddenly regretted drinking the gin. But then his face brightened, and he said with a flourish, "Right you are my friend, a flush so royal beats my four sevens, but by the hair on my chin and your godawful gin, I win!" as he three down three more cards with a spin.

"Seven sevens it is, and seven of a kind, which I think you'll find beats any hand but mine!" Tom said with a smirk as he rose to feet, surrounded by orc. And all of them looked down at their hands, and begin to count.

Tom waited a moment, watching them count, and quietly slipped his way out.


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