Shelldry rules taken from here
A hush fell over the table as Cassielle searched the eyes of the three boys, Pendlehave whispering quietly behind her. They could hear murmurs through the floor above, and the light footsteps of Nebellea gracefully reminding herself of the court dances.
That’s what I should be doing.
The thought betrayed him and he continued to stare down Cassie as she looked at her hand. Pidge had folded early on, but Quinn pointedly ignored the stare and raised eyebrow he was being given. Pallino was quiet, rarely folding or overall being an involved player. Cassielle claimed she had never played before, yet the pile of clips in front of her either indicated they were being hustled or Pendlehave was a truly excellent teacher.
She called, staying in the game. Pidge, dealer, turned over an iron and a steel. Strong pair to match the iron and steel already in his hand. Double alloy wasn’t a bad hand to have, he remembered Manny seemed to call it the medial hand. That one hand in the middle that was never definite win but would be a success often enough.
Pallino called, and Cassie did as well, just leaving Quinn to make a choice. He hurred to himself.
“I’m not sure what the right idea is here. Is our little princess sure she wants to stay in? I’ve got a pewter and a tin in here, so unless you have the Temporal duo it’s not worth it.”
“Play your cards, Quinn. None of this nonsense.”
They’d taken his mistborn vials off of him before they had agreed to play, not trusting to him to not use allomancy to his own advantage. He still had a little zinc left in him from earlier but not enough for more than a round of two of play so he it was held in reserve. He had some steel too, but that was just good sense. You never knew when the next rogue Kandra would knock down your door, he’d argued, getting a queasy look from everyone who wasn’t the scowling Pidge.
“No nonsense, Pellik my man. Just an idea. I thought we could bet something different here on out since little miss Cassie over her is about to bleed me dry.”
Her eyebrow raised, in the same way Nebellea’s did whenever she was unsure whether to be offended or curious about something Quinn did.
“I was wondering,” he spoke over Pidge, “If we might bet stories with secrets. Let’s say two each, if you bet a story then everyone else has to bet one to stay in.”
Pallino shrugged, “I’ve got nothing to hide, m’lo…Quinn. I’m happy to stay in a little longer.”
Quinn smirked slightly at the misstep. He was dressed for the ball in his new suit, and it was evidently making Pallino a little uncomfortable.
“Sure, Quinn, let’s just get this over with.” Pidge was similarly attired, and Quinn swore Bella had practically squealed when they had finished his makeover for his royal presentation tonight. They were both still unsure why she’d bought him a suit, but it wasn’t in the former’s nature to question nobles.
Cassielle frowned. “I feel rather ganged up on. Is it the custom to single out the new player and make her feel, as she wins, that she has instead lost the trust of her new friends?”
Pallino blushed slightly, but Pidge and Quinn caught each others’ eyes and, grinning, responded in unison with “Yes.”
“Fine then, two secrets,” she sighed.
“Excellent. I double down and throw in a secret.”
“Of course you do, Lord Rebou. Pallino, are you calling?” Pallino harrumphed to himself and folded, sacrificing but a measly 4 clips in the process.
“Just me then,” Cassielle grinned herself, “I guess I’ll have to call, I’ll even raise you a clip if you’re feeling risky.”
“I’m all about a little risk, my lady.”
They both revealed their cards. Double alloy versus 3 of a kind.
“One secret from the Lady Panassian. I’m gonna cash that in right now so that we can all know our new friend a little better.”
Cassielle flushed a little as the cards were revealed, but unlike her sister she quickly got herself under control.
“One secret…one secret…any suggestions from the table? Pidge, you’re likely to be less invasive than your friend. Suggestion.”
“Something about your youth, my lady. Tell us about a time you broke a rule.”
“Hmm. Well it’s not really a rule, but did you ever meet my cousin Darielle? Ghastly woman, always using emotional allomancy on anyone near her. It’s a wonder her mother and father haven’t cracked, though the obligators are still out on Uncle Ber,” she tittered to herself, not caring that no one else got the joke, "But Bella, when I was only small, told me to never spend time with Darielle with my brother or father there. They said she’d not care about my youth and she was worried I’d get upset. I know you give a hard time, Quinnie, but she’s a rather wonderful sister. The servants say she’s like our mother, and she took over the role of the ‘mother’ in the house. I think it was a bit much for her though….
“Anyway, yes. So Bella made me promise I’d never go see Darielle on my own but one time, when I was 9, I’d ripped my favourite dress and Leon and Father were out shopping while Nebellea was out for lunch. I didn’t know who else to ask, so I knocked on Darielle’s door. It was like walking into the den of a Koloss in my head. This strange, mean woman with odd powers. She was a bit put out by the screaming child clinging to her…but she comforted me. I’m pretty sure she simply used the allomancy to make me happy again, but after I left I still felt good until father returned.
“So my secret, I guess, is that my cousin isn’t actually a total bitch.”
There was a chorus of laughter around the table, in part caused by the dainty 14 year old saying ‘bitch’. Even Penndlehave smiled slightly as he turned away to finish fixing one of Cassielle’s dresses.
“Is emotional allomancy really that bad?” asked Pallino.
“It’s mercurial,” Pidge eyed Quinn as he spoke, “But I can give you a sample if you’d like? Someone is literally changing your emotions, usually for their own gain. It’s a tactic, and something people frown on. It might be worth me doing it once just so you know in future. Just let me know.”
Pallino nodded, his attention returned to the game.
“I think we have time for one more hand before you three need to get ready for this ball,” Penn said, checking his pocket watch.
“My deal?” Quinn gathered up the cards and began shuffling before dealing the cards out to the table. I need to beat Cassie. Can’t have Panassians’ continuing to best me this week.
Zinc and Iron. A bad hand really, but he’d have to stay in. Pidge called, going all in with everything but his secrets, and everyone but Pallino followed suit.
“I should help Penn with that dress,” he muttered.
Quinn bet a secret again, and Pidge just glared at him before folding and crossing his arms.
“Looks like you and I are the only ones with the guts to play a game of risk, Lady P.”
“Quite. Can we draw now? I do believe I have bet all I can.”
They turned over the two central cards: steel and brass. Quinn fought down a smile,
“Looks like you’ll be telling another story soon, Cassie.”
“Oh I don’t think so.” She then lay down her hand. The dynamic duo, gold and atium. The end hand.
“Lord Ruler damn it!” Quinn threw down his cards, and the windows burst open as he reflexively lashed out with steel. “Oops.”
Pidge laughed and shook Cassielle’s hand, “A marvellous hustle, my dear. You need to show me who taught you to cut cards.”
“She was cheating?!” Quinn looked indignant. “You were watching me when she was cheating?”
“Of course, Quinn. It’s far too much fun watching you lose.” Cassielle and Pidge shared a laugh.
“Cough up, Lord Grey. What’s your secret?”
Quinn’s eyebrows left the frown he’d been wearing, and he walked over to close and relatch the windows.
“Do you consider yourself a sensible woman?” Quinn asked.
“How do you mean?”
“Well…would you say you had sensibilities? Are they offensible? I daren’t tell a story the ladies of this house will berate me for.”
“Don’t be a prude, Quinn. Tell me your secret.”
“Okay, okay. Just make sure you tell Nebellea you had to twist my arm with platitudes to get it. I don’t know if she ever told you, but I grew up in a brothel. Yes, Pallino, a brothel, don’t give me that look. Well my mother…there aren’t a lot of jobs for skaa that don’t involve beatings…so she ended up in one where she was treated nice, after a fashion. She gave birth to me, and four years later she got pregnant again. Issue is, Nobles can’t have children with skaa, can they? Contaminates the gene pool. So when this guy found out, she was taken away and killed…but let’s not get into that. Point is, I grew up in a brothel and the reason why isn’t some funny story.
“Well so I worked at this brothel and the busy nights were nights like these. The balls bring out a lot of drunk nobles and they like to go get their jollies, and the guards are all in one place so it’s a chance for the skaa to get some action too,” Cassiel paled slightly at the words, Penndlehave clicking and pointing with a meaningful look at Quinn, “So yeah. Working the night of the ball. Must have been about 13 or 14 at the time, your age. And this noble comes along. Big carriage, 4 guards, two horses, and him and his son get out. Sent me in to go get the master of the house. Out he wanders, shoulders slouched and voice barely a whisper. This noble was visiting, he said, and wanted his son to have his coming of age.”
“Coming of age?” Cassiel looked slightly stricken.
“Yep. Don’t worry, I won’t tell you about that one for fear of my tongue being cut out. But I’m sat out there while the son goes inside, and waiting on the Noble if he wants anything in our power to offer. Nothing, of course. What could skaa offer?”
“Entertainment,” muttered Pidge through clenched teeth.
“Too right,” Quinn touched his nose and pointed at Pidge, “Entertainment. So Bella likes to tease me because I have this fear of horses right. So my secret, my story with a secret, is why. To put it short and sweet, that noble thought it’d be funny to whip his horses into a frenzy while I stood between them. Lord Ruler, I wish I’d had the metals I have now. Instead I was trampled, terrified, and everytime I crawled away they poked me back under with sticks. If I passed out, they dunked me in water and threw me back.”
Cassielle had her mouth covered by her hand. “That is horrible. However did they get away with such a thing.”
“Oh that’s not a hard secret, Cassie. Don’t you know Skaa lives don’t matter?”
It was at this point that Nebellea walked in, a dressing gown tied around her waist.
“We need to get ready, Cas. Are you quite done corrupting my sister, Quillan?” She said it jokingly. Seems like this ball has her in a good mood, he thought.
“She was quite corrupted already, Nebellea,” Pidge interrupted, “Did you teach her to cut like that?”
Nebellea raised a single eyebrow, much like Cassielle had earlier, and escorted her sister out, tutting.