The Aftermath Of Mount Woe Chapter 34

Gambler's Ruin

By Nanaki

12,002 B.C.

Schala woke up with a start the next morning, realizing that Zeal was standing right at the side of her bed. "Huh? Mother, what do you want?" Zeal reached down, then held up Schala's royal robes. This couldn't be going anywhere good.

"Your clothes were found, still soaked, in the bottom of the washing pile at Enhasa. What were they doing there?" Schala made no response. "Get dressed." Zeal said crossly, throwing the robes on top of Schala.

"What's this all about?" Schala asked, now angry herself.

"Just where have you been going lately? You've been spending far too much time away from the Zeal Palace."

"I've just been spending more time at our old home."

"I figured that much. Who are you going to see?" Schala remained silent. "I see. You're now confined to the palace until I say otherwise."

"The guards have to obey my orders, you know."

"That can easily be remedied."

"Fine!" Schala exclaimed, turning her back on Zeal, but then she realized something. "Wait! That doesn't mean Dalton will have authority over me, does it?"

"You should have thought of that two seconds ago, before you opened your mouth."


"But what?"

"His administrative policies," Schala grated her teeth together, "aren't exactly the best."

"No, that's very true. But he does keep the rabble in line, and that rabble includes you at the moment."

Schala clenched her fists as Zeal left the room. This was a serious impediment to her serious relationship. She wanted to go back to Greven tonight, and she was sure he wouldn't have any objections. Immediately, she tried to teleport out of the palace, but some mysterious force kept her in. "Its just what the Weapons did to dad!" She gasped. 'Violen! Get me out of here!' But the Weapon made no response from wherever she was. She reluctantly opened contact to Greven. 'Mother won't let me leave the palace.'

'That's never stopped you before.' He said, not really paying attention.

'Yes, but this time she means business. She's sealed off my telekinetic abilities.'

'Like the Weapons did to Vigo.'

'Precisely. I can't seem to reach Violen.'

'So what are you going to do?'

'I really don't know.'

'How long will it be this way?'

'Until she says otherwise.'

'I can't wait that many years. I can barely wait as long as I have... to see you again.'

Schala blushed. 'I can't wait to see you too. But what can we do?'

'I could come over there.'

'Weren't you the one lecturing me about taking risks? That would be a huge gamble.'

'Dalton seems to want high stakes. I don't intend to dissapoint.'

'I see. You want to see me, and you want to confront him.'

'Yes. I've been training, the way you showed me.'

'Do you really think you can sneak in here?'

'I need you to report on the guard stations, to know where to go.'

'I'll get right on it.' Schala threw on the rest of her royal robes, slightly happier with the situation now. She had barely gotten to the hall though, when the palace rumbled to its foundations, and she heard the sound of engines. Rushing to a window, she saw the massive bulk of the Blackbird docking right outside. This could not be good. Why would Dalton move the Blackbird here now? He practically lived at the Zeal Palace already. Maybe he was making it official. Or maybe he didn't think he could beat Schala and Greven by himself. She didn't know whether to be flattered or frightened.

Sighing, she continued discreetly around the palace, monitoring the position of every guard. She reported them back to Greven. 'There are about forty overall. Only two at the main entrance. The rest are scattered in a sort of delta formation leading away from the entrance. There are none very close to my room, and none near any of the rear windows.'

'Is the telekinetic shield still up?'

'Yes, unfortunately.'

'So you can't teleport me in... Can you 'port me up to the roof right above your window?'

'I think I could manage that. But it is pretty steep, you know.'

'Don't worry about that. I'm strong enough.'

'Yes, you certainly are.'

'Heh, heh. So, when do you want me over?'

'Now. But you should come at midnight... no, one a.m., in case mother stays up late.'

'I'll be there.'

'Also, you should know that Dalton docked the Blackbird here.'

'What? Why?'

'I have no clue.'

'Where are the weapons pointing?' He sounded worried now.

'I can't see them from here.'

'Well look.'

She was surprised at the forcefulness of his voice. 'They're pointed forward.'

'Which direction is forward?!'

'I don't know. Toward me!' She didn't like his tone of voice.

'Get away from the window!'

'What is your problem?'

'Now, damn it!!!' There was real urgency in his voice, so Schala angrily backed away. Hardly a second later, a huge blast of energy from one of the Blackbird's main cannons roared past her window. The concussion threw her back into the wall. 'Crud! I could see that from here! Schala! Schala, are you there?'

'Yes.' She replied shakily. 'How did you know?'

'It would be easy for him to claim that there was a power surge. About the most convenient accident imaginable.'

'Maybe I better leave, in case he tries again.'

'How would you leave? Anyway, I don't think he could convince Zeal that there had been two power surges in so short a space of time.'

'Can you come over now?'

'You know that's impossible. 'Port me there at one a.m.'

'Can you send Ertai?'


'It would be nice to have some counterespionage. He's not wanted for anything yet, so he could move around here fairly freely.'

'I'll ask him.' Schala sensed that he felt very uneasy.

'What's the matter with you now?'

'Even though we're supposedly pulling one over on the Lavos worshippers, I can't help but wonder if we aren't doing exactly what Dalton wants us to do.'

'Perhaps.' Schala said indifferently. 'But what we will do, is definitely not what Dalton will want us to do. And that's true no matter how you interpret my sentence.'

Greven laughed, mentally and out loud. 'Ah yes. Tonight is going to be something special. In many ways, most likely.'

Schala nodded. 'In many ways...'


"Let's say you're a gambler, and you're playing a coin-toss game. Every time the coin comes up heads, you win a dollar. Every time it comes up tails, you lose a dollar."


"What happens over time?"

"The chances of getting either heads or tails is even. So maybe you win, maybe you lose. But in the end, you'll come out at zero."

"Unfortunately, you don't. If you gamble long enough, you'll always lose--the gambler is always ruined. That's why casinos stay in business. But the question is, what happens over time? What happens in the period before the gambler is finally ruined?"

"Okay. What happens?"

"If you chart the gambler's fortunes over time, what you find is the gambler wins for a period, or loses for a period. In other words, everything in the world goes in streaks. Its a real phenomenon, and you see it everywhere: in weather, in river flooding, in baseball, in heart rhythms, in stock markets. Once things go bad, they tend to stay bad. Like the old folk saying that bad things come in threes. Complexity theory tells us the folk wisdom is right. Bad things cluster. Things go to hell together. That's the real world."

"So what are you saying? That things are going to hell now?"

"They could be..." - Ian Malcolm and Sarah Harding


"It doesn't matter whether you win or lose, because you are definitely going to lose." - Dave Barry


Nanaki: As you all can see, I've totally abandoned my policy of only quoting from RPGs. Which brings up my point. All of you send me your most meaningful quotes. They can be from Final Fantasy Tactics, or Savage Garden lyrics, or even something you made up yourself. The one I find most meaningful, or that carries the most powerful message, will be showcased in the chapter where the Black Omen is destroyed, along with the name or alias of whoever sent it in. So get busy people. I'll be waiting.


Go To Hell Battle 1

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