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House of Cards


The point of the game is to win. You win by taking me back where I came from. I win by killing you before you get the chance. But if I let you play... I might not win the game, would I? Letting you play isn't a chance I want to take.

Fantasy / Adventure
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

“Pick a card.”

The prince swallowed, looking down at the fan of cards in the huge hands in front of him, the lantern above him flickering gently and casting shadows in the dark tent he was in, staring at the black and red cards in front of him of excellent craftsmanship and none the same as the other. They looked handmade, they didn’t even look like paper. They didn’t bend the same way as paper, they were smooth, shiny in the light, crafted beautifully and the red lines that traced their way into designs and paisleys sparkled when the light hit them.

He reached forward to tap a card in the midst, his fingers a little shaky as he pinched the end and pulled the card out carefully, pulling it towards himself as if he didn’t know what to do with it yet.

“Don’t look at it yet. Set it down in front of you. This is your card.”

He obeyed carefully, looking down at the black tablecloth in front of him scattered with sparkles like a night sky. The man in front of him instantly retracted the fan of cards perfectly, smoothly as if he was working with water as he shuffled them and whipped them around like the professional he was.

He was young, black hair and sharp eyebrows, with sparkly, mysterious gray eyes that never met his with a maroon cloak over his head gently and casting a shadow on his eyes and up, a golden embroidery of strange symbols on the hem that glistened in the lantern light above as he worked the cards until he was sure they were shuffled, spreading the black cards again in a fan in front of him and nodding ahead softly.

“Pick another card. Set this one next to the other one, but slightly lower.” The prince obeyed again, reaching forward to grab another card. He slipped one of the pitch-black cards out of the deck, the pattern of black and sparkly red catching his eye again as he pulled it out of the pile like a warm knife through butter and brought it back to his other card, placing it next to it but lower than his own.

“If that card is the same rank as your own, it is the person who will stay by you at whatever the cards will reveal.”

The man pulled back the fan of cards again, shuffling them together with his expert hands and the cards flickering in black and red like a hallucination the prince had only seen when he was feverish, the colors dancing in the hypnotizing lantern light. He could barely hear the carnival music outside, the sound of the people laughing, the instruments being played, the people having fun with the horse-drawn rides and amazing things that happened outside.

Inside the tent, it was deadly dark and quiet, the lantern the only source of light and no decoration anywhere in sight, bringing the visitors attention to the man in the center and the small table in front covered with a black cloth sprinkled with shiny glitter like a night sky, and the deck of black and red cards in the center.

Once the prince had stepped in and taken a seat, he was hooked with the man’s fluid movements, the cards dancing in the lantern light and the deadly silence of the room only occasionally broken with the noises that continued.

“Pick another card. Lay it directly next to the other you have made. If it is again the same rank as your own, it is another friend.”

The shuffling commenced again, delighting the prince’s ears and tickling his brain in the weirdest way possible as he watched the man work the cards together.

“Another card. Next to the last one.”

The man’s voice was velvety smooth, gentle and soft and mysterious, like his eyes. His fingers still shook touching the velvet cards, the cards bendy just like any other card, but the texture unlike anything else he had ever felt before, smooth and silky, light and airy, soft and deceivingly sharp at the edges. They were beautiful. Hypnotizingly beautiful, to the eyes, to the ears, to the touch.

The man fanned the cards out in front of him again, not bothering to ask him to pick one again because he already knew what to do, reaching forward to bring out another card and place it next to his other one. In a flash, the man had folded up the cards again and began shuffling them, folding them in and out and almost a blur as they flew into the other hand and he whirled them around his hands in a professional manner, sparkling red and black glinting in the lantern light.

The man’s rare gray eyes watched the cards unemotionally, a soft feel of mystery and magic whirling around the room as he glanced up at the prince with a raised eyebrow. His hands worked magically, rolling around the cards, moving them around and shuffling them until the prince could barely tell what was happening.

Finally, the man placed the deck in front of him slightly to the left, then pulled them out into a line in front of him, spreading the cards out face down in front of him and facing the prince as the shuffling sounds automatically stopped, the tent now deadly quiet as the prince leaned in slightly the ambience in the room captivating as the man sat back in his chair, the shadow in his eyes getting darker as the prince waited for the next orders he was given, almost literally on the edge of his seat.

“Pick a number of cards, no more than five.”

The prince looked down to the spread of cards in front of him, biting his lip hard as he ran his gaze over the cards in front of him, his hands shaking as he reached forward and put a finger on one of the cards in the middle. He looked up to the man in front of him, eyes shaky as the man just looked on casually, calculating his actions, his every move with a deceivingly careless and calculating look as the prince pulled out the card in front of him and brought it back down to his line.

Five cards sat in front of him. He hesitated, looking up at the man in front of him as he awaited his next actions. Trembling, the prince reached forward to put another finger on another one of the random black and red cards. They all had the same design on the back, a design of paisleys outlined in sparkling red on a pitch black that matched the tablecloth all too perfectly.

He withdrew another card, placing it next to the other. He reached left, touching a card gently, then pulling it back to him. That made seven. He sat back in his chair, swallowing and content with his choices as of now. The second he relaxed and let the man take charge of whatever had just happened, the man’s gray eyes jerked up to his own, stunning gray and swirling with secrets that couldn’t be revealed, his hand going up to the side of the table and the prince watched with wide eyes as the remaining cards suddenly leapt into his hands, slapping themselves against each other in a never-ending waterfall of sparkling red and black.

The cards vanished into the man’s hand, and he set them down on the corner of the table closest to him as the prince swallowed a little nervously when the man folded his hands in front of him and looked up to the prince, smack in the face. He was a pro.

And he knew it.

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