Chapter 06 – A Game of Dice

On the eastern side of Autumn Leaf Town, i.e, near the direction of Black Fiend Mountains, there was a decent sized public square. There were some wooden chairs arranged in the square which could accommodate over a hundred people. Usually, the villagers who went hunting in the mountain or for gathering herbs would come here to rest a bit.

However, today was different from usual. The day had barely brightened when in the middle of the open square, several tables had been placed side by side in rows together, forming an approximately three-meter long giant table.

The long table was covered with a white cloth. Whereas, the plain white cloth had several huge words painted on it. In the middle was the word ‘Leopard’, but all around it was separately ‘Big’, ‘Small’, ‘Single’, ‘Double’, and moreover outside each word a huge circle was painted.

Just in front of the long table, a porcelain tray and a porcelain bowl were placed on top of the table side by side. The porcelain tray and bowl were of average quality. The bowl and tray were no different that the one from which any ordinary family ate.

However, on top of the porcelain tray, there were three strange cube-shaped white wooden blocks. The blocks could not be considered big, they could only measure up to one-third of an adult’s little finger. The material quality of the block was rather average. It was only the common pine lumber. The block’s oddity lay in the fact that on its six sides had black circles painted. From one, two, all the way to six. Each side had a different number of circles.

In front of the table, Tang Chu stood upright, his hands rested on the table and his eyes fixed on the three cube-shaped blocks in the porcelain tray.

He was still not completely convinced how this thing called by Gu Hai as Dice would be able to net him immense profits. Although he had absolute faith in Gu Hai’s capabilities, this was something that went beyond his cognition.

Gu Hai was sitting on a chair in a calm and collected manner. When it came to earning a lot of money in the shortest time, there was no better way than gambling. Moreover, the one with the simplest rules and the one easiest to make was the Dice. Furthermore, he even simplified the rules a bit with the aim of making it easier for people to accept and like this kind of dice game. Therefore, he was not at all anxious about not gaining the silver that they wanted through the game of dice.

As the day gradually brightened, the Sun also rose slowly. The people who came out to gather herbs and for hunting also started appearing. Moreover, the people in the town generally gathered in this square and would go out together. In this way, it would ensure much better safety.

As the people all started gathering in the square, the long table was successful in garnering the attention of people. The people were engaged in endless discussions and even came up for inquiring with Tang Chu one after the other.

“These are called Dice. Each Dice individually has six distinct numbers……you would be compensated for winning the betting in big, small, single, and double bets, by one fold. If you bet on the leopard then you would be compensated threefold…..” A lot of onlookers had gathered. Tens of people had already formed an impenetrable crowd around the table. Tang Chu was forcefully calming himself and began to explain the rules to each and every person. [1]

“No, Little Tang Chu, I understood the rules, but does your family even have money. If I won the bet, but you are not able to pay me, then I won’t be able to do anything.” There were some mutterings which emerged amongst the people immediately. Although they were very interested in this thing called dice, but they were, even more, clearer with regards to the circumstances of Tang Chu’s house. They were afraid that Tang Chu would not be able to pay out the money won in the bet.

Tang Chu quietly took out some loose pieces of silver and some copper coins. They didn’t amount to much, only approximately five taels give or take. This was already his entire family’s savings.

After that Tang Chu hesitated for a moment, before recalling the miraculousness of Gu Hai. In the end, he decided to fight one last absolute fight, and from his bosom took out two sheets of paper, and said in a heavy voice, “This is my family’s property and house deed. Market value is approximately a hundred taels of silver give or take. Even if taken to a pawn shop, one would be able to get at least eighty taels of silver, is that much enough?”

When the others saw Tang Chu take out the five taels in loose change they even looked at him disdainfully, but when Tang Chu took out the property and house deed, each and every one of them was left astonished. How could they dare to believe that Tang Chu would unexpectedly stake everything on this game of dice?

“Tang Chu, you must think carefully. The property and house deeds are your final safeguards. If you lose them, then you and your mother would have no place to go.” There were some people in the crowd who knew Tang Chu and warned him out of kindness.

There was a trace of struggle within Tang Chu’s heart. Without knowing it he was clenching the deeds in his hand very hard, but when he turned to look at Gu Hai who was still sitting calmly on the chair, he firmed his heart. He decided to believe in Gu Hai who he had met only one day ago but seemed to be brimming with mysteriousness and miraculousness.

“Many thanks for everyone’s good intentions. Tang Chu has already decided in his heart.” Tang Chu while looking at the crowd, said in a heavy voice: “I won’t talk any more nonsense, Elders and fellow villagers, everyone who is interested in this game of dice please also place your bets. Everyone understands my credibility, I will definitely treat everyone fairly and sincerely.

“Alright, Tang Chu, since you dare to be the dealer, we also would naturally dare to play. We are also convinced about your credibility Tang Chu, you would definitely not renege on your debt.” Everyone was in high spirits.

Tang Chu placed the dice in the porcelain tray, and then placed the porcelain bowl on the porcelain tray. Holding on to the porcelain bowl and tray with both of his hands, he shook them up and down. The dice inside the porcelain bowl was issuing “peng peng” sounds. After shaking a few times, Tang Chu placed the tray back onto the table and said calmly: “Everyone please place your bets.”

“I’ll bet on Big, I am betting for 10 copper coins.”

“I’m next, fifty copper coins all on Double.”

……

At the beginning, everyone was playing very cautiously since this was a novel experience. Moreover, not everyone had placed a bet, and quite a lot were still counting on waiting and watching.

“Since the bets are set, I will be opening now.” Tang Chu yelled out and then opened the porcelain bowl in his hand, “One, four and five, a total of 10. ‘Small’ and ‘Double’ win.”

Tang Chu placed the money of all those who hadn’t bet on ‘small’ and ‘double’ in front of him and then divided it amongst the people who had placed their bets on ‘Small’ and ‘Doubles’.

The people who had placed the bets found it a bit inconceivable to be receiving double their money back. Money was doubled just as simple as that. Compared to how they had to go hunting or gathering herbs, this was so much faster. Moreover, the people who lost money looked on enviously at the people who had won. There was nothing to be done about it, they had only their own luck to blame, not the others.

This time Tang Chu didn’t lose, rather he had even earned a little bit. His complexion didn’t change as he once again began operating, and continued, “Everyone please place your bets.”

“Hehe, I won fifty copper coins just now. It seems my luck is good today. I will wager a hundred copper coins, all on double.”

“I will also wager a hundred copper coins, fifty on ‘Big’ and fifty on ‘Single’.”

“Bet fifty copper coins on ‘Double’!”

……

As more and more people placed their bets, the pot also grew larger. Pile after pile of copper coins were being stacked on the long table. The people who were waiting and watching earlier also couldn’t bear it any longer and went up to place their bets.

“Bets are set, I will open immediately.” Tang Chu was just preparing to open the porcelain bowl when waves after waves of shouting reached his ears, “Big, it must be Big.”, “Double, give me a Double!”…..

Tang Chu didn’t pay any attention to everyone’s shouts, and slowly opened the porcelain bowl. After that, he said indifferently, “Three Fours, Leopard, Straight Kill!” Only Tang Chu’s external appearance was calm, his heart was extremely excited. While taking all the copper coins in front of him, his two hands were shaking slightly. [2]

“Fuck, it really is leopard. Tang Chu, hurry up and start once more. I want to bet once more.”

“Leopard? It won’t do, I will bet on Leopard next time.”

Human’s inherent flaw lay in this precisely, even after losing they couldn’t stop. They still wanted to continue and must necessarily win back the capital they lost!

After Tang Chu pacified the excitement in his heart, he once again started shaking the dice, and said once more: “Everyone please place your bets!”

……

As more and more people arrived at the public square, the number of people placing the bets grew. It seemed as if they had forgotten that they still had to go gather herbs or hunt. Their entire concentration was solely on placing bets, their entire concentration was focused on how to make the right bet.

In the meantime, there were some who upon looking at the feeble looking Tang Chu, thought of strong-arming him and taking the money. As a result, Gu Hai only had to shine the Black Wind Camp’s medallion and those people would all obediently go back to the table to lose money to Tang Chu deliberately!

The day flew by very quickly, Tang Chu was already tired beyond his capacity. If it were not for the ever increasing money propping up Tang Chu’s conviction, he would have already laid down in exhaustion.

However, the harvest was also very good. With barely a day’s labor, Tang Chu had cleaned up sixty-eight taels of silver. The distance to a hundred and ten taels of silver was shortened by more than half.

On the second and third day, due to more people becoming aware of it, there were more people placing their bets. Tang Chu in these three days had earned a profit of two hundred and sixty taels of silver. He had long ago surpassed his initial target of a hundred and ten taels of silver.

However, after the third day, Tang Chu didn’t continue setting up the table because everyone had already started following suit. Even though Tang Chu still had a share of his old customers, but the earnings were no longer that big. Moreover, Tang Chu’s target had already been achieved and he didn’t need any more money for the time being.

Even more, Tang Chu, on the night of the third day, went to return the hundred and ten taels of silver to Yao Er, and from then on he was completely free of debt.

TLN:

[1] The dice systems seems like a combination of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sic_bo and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cee-lo Small would be 4-10, Big would be 11-17 and while ‘Single’ will be odd numbers and ‘Double’ even numbers

[2] If the banker rolls 4-5-6, “triples” (all three dice show the same number), or a pair (of non-6s) with a 6 then he/she instantly wins all bets. In Chinese, these are called “4-5-6 straight kill” (四五六通杀), “leopards” (豹子 baozi)

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