Book two has been a whirlwind. It has tortured me and the characters in all the best ways and I love it. To share my excitement, I’d like to share a (roughly drafted!) snippet where the infamous Zonk from Atem’s Charmaments appears during a game of Heartsmark (which Cori first sees played in Fallborough). Not only do you find out why someone thought it was worth 7 common tokens to bloody Zonk’s nose, you also lightly learn the rules of the card-and-dice game. I’d eventually like to have art that depicts the artwork on the cards and dice as well as an easy-to-read general rulebook. For now, though, please enjoy a tiny piece of this draft 🙂 (…also, book two may or may not be released in December…!)
DARKNESS DESCENDS OVER the pit. The firelight illuminates my cards: one depicts a beam of light exploding out of a heart, and the other shows water dripping from an extravagant dagger.
“Your turn,” the one-armed swordsman says to me.
I pick up the multi-sided dice, shake and roll them onto the ground. One die lands on a beam of light, the other on an uncut heart. I have a total of two chances to roll again in the same turn throughout the game. The dice are separated into Object and Accessory. If I roll the die with the light, it needs to land on dripping water for a Heartsmark. And if I roll the heart die, it needs to change to the dagger. I’ve already spent one of my chances. If I take this one and fail, I’m out of the game.
I pick up the heart die, accepting the challenge in the swordsman’s turquoise eye. I suppose there’s also a challenge in his murky brown one, but it’s less obvious. Juniper’s mouth curls in half a smile. This is a much-needed reprieve from the gloom of our previous days and in the days to come.
“A dagger for a heart,” I call out my intention and I drop the die. After my earlier conversation with SPOILER, this seems as likely a bet as any.
The die lands on a shield. I drop my cards with a sigh.
“It’s okay,” the swordsman grins. “First timer’s luck isn’t always in the cards.”
“Especially if you’re playing Zonk’s deck,” Marina says from behind us, her identity obvious from the length of her curls and the fact that Nikomy isn’t glued to her side. “Our metal magnetizing friend here has dice with a core of iron.”
Me and Juniper squint at Zonk. Wait, Zonk?
“Zonk from Atem’s Charmaments?”
Zonk grimaces but nods his head all the same. “The very one. Well, formerly.”
“Why don’t you tell them what brought you back here, Zonk?” Marina’s innocent question has a mocking pitch.
When Zonk says nothing, I ask, “A bloody nose?”
The bitter line of Zonk’s mouth doesn’t budge. “Saw that, did you?”
Marina lets out a disappointed coo. “And yet you call yourself a truthseeker.”
“Fine!” Zonk slams his cards down and jumps to his feet. “Look, this token-heavy rascal had eyes for my former flame, also of Atem’s Charmaments. He wouldn’t stop coming in. Maybe expensive jewelry kept sticking to his expensive bracelets, making him look greedy. Maybe he got banned from the shop. Who’s to say?”
“How did he know it was you?” I ask.
Zonk shrugs. “I doubt he knew of my trait, or traits in general, but I probably showed too much teeth when Atem threw him out and blackballed his name.”