For The Trinity Tree, who is very special. Hope I did them justice and you get a good laugh out of it. Thanks for letting me play with your characters, I promise they aren't too dinged up.
The Very First (and Last) Game of Strip Poker
It was well known in the Belstone caravan that Kronan and Tag hoarded gil like Selkie bankers in the same way it was known that the two boys should carefully arrange their gear so as not to offend Esther's linear sensibilities: recognized and misused to great and obnoxious effect. Which is how Esther found herself in a Shella inn, growing dizzy from turning to look first at one serious face, then the other, each glaring at each other from across the table.
Tag shivered lightly from the chill air, gooseflesh raising the little hairs on his bare arms. His eyes were shadowed by the flickering candlelight as he set down three cards, making them a perfect stack with the rest of the discard pile under Esther's watchful eye. "Three, dealer," he told her, and against the whitewashed walls her shadow mirrored her reaching out with three new cards. His face twitched as he received them, then smoothed its expression once more into careful blankness.
Kronan wriggled his toes, his bare feet propped on the table and his chair tilted back precariously, and smiled indolently. "Two," he requested, and made the exchange with Esther. Though he'd lost both boots and socks, he was doing far better than Tag, who missed his warm coat dearly.
Normally they would have started betting then, but an outrageous bet by Tag coupled with an equally outrageous hand had left Kronan completely nude after the first round, and with eyes averted Esther had demanded a change in rules. And what Esther demanded with a fire magicite in hand, Esther got.
"A lucky hand," Kronan had bluffed, claiming he'd take Tag's underwear in the next round and throw it off a bridge, but he'd eagerly agreed to play by the new rules, cheeks redder than usual. Now, the winner took an item of clothing each round. Whomever remained the most dressed took the gleaming pile of gil sitting in the middle of the table, fresh from the Sluice.
Simultaneously both boys flourished their hands. "Three of a kind!" Kronan called, only to slump when he saw Tag's hand.
"Full house." Tag grinned. "Come on, throw something over. Your shirt? Let's see that pale wittle Wilty tummy again." Kronan smirked right back, then slowly and deliberately unbuckled his belt, placing it on the table.
"What?' Tag demanded. "No fair! Tell him a belt isn't a legal item of clothing, Esther!"
With another smirk Kronan propped his feet up on the table again. "Is too. I was wearing it, wasn't I?"
Their female teammate quickly intervened. "It counts," she said, not wanting to see them half naked any sooner than she had to.
"What are you, a Selkie?" Tag grumbled, taking the belt even as he passed his hand back to Esther.
Kronan sulked as he watched Tag play with his belt a bit. "How come you're not playing anyway?" he asked Esther.
Shuffling the cards and bridging them with ease, she shrugged. "I am playing. I just don't feel the need to risk losing my clothes for a bit of gil." She dealt them each a hand, then sat back in her chair to watch the carnage.
"Spoilsport," he replied, slapping down three cards so that they deliberately ran crooked to the discard pile. Esther glared and reached out to fix them, then took her sweet time dealing his new cards.
The battle raged on as the candles burned lower and lower, with neither boy seeming to hold onto a winning streak for long. At last both were down to their underwear.
Esther cringed as she dealt this last hand, and the other two fell silent as they stared at their cards. Kronan discarded one, Tag two, then they returned to staring at their hands.
Shrilly she asked, "Well?"
They revealed their hands and three mouths gaped, stunned. Two equal straits appeared. "What're the odds?" Tag wondered as his gambling partner asked, "So who wins?"
Once again the referee, Esther grinned. "In the event of a tie, the most dressed wins the pot."
Tag and Kronan eyed each other, then turned back to her. "So who wins?"
She laughed. "Me!" With a huge sweep of her arm she knocked most of the gil into her knapsack, the rest of the pieces bouncing off the floor into corners unknown. She bolted for the door, slamming it behind her.
"Hey!" Tag shouted, both of them pursuing. When he ripped open the door a huge draft of cold air flooded the room, making him pause. But nothing stopped Kronan. He sprinted down the paved pathways after Esther, clad only in his underwear, shouting and swearing the whole way.
Amidatty happened upon them months later down by the Fields of Fum. He gravely handed them a sealed scroll and said, "Somehow I did not find myself surprised to know it was your caravan."
Unrolling the scroll, Tag's eyebrows rose into his hairline. "We've been fined 5000 gil," he informed them. "For, ah, nudity, violence, assault, disturbing the peace, nude violence...Kronan did you really have to tackle her in just your underwear?"
He puffed out his chest. "I regret nothing," he replied.
"Be as it may," Esther interrupted, glaring at him before giving up with a sigh, "Where are we going to get 5000 gil?"
Tag thought for a moment, then shared a conspiratorial look with Kronan. "I heard the cow races are set to start next week."
"Oh, no," Esther said.
"Oh, yes," Kronan replied gleefully.