Playing board games at Chaldea

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October 20, 2019. It was a sunny Sunday, as hot as the previous Sundays I have outlived with my trusty foldable umbrella.

I happen to arrive at the terminal too early. My itinerary says that I need to be there by 4:00 pm for the rayshift. I have three hours to do something as I wait, so I went off to the “nearby duty-free” to get some snacks.

Last night was mad as hell. I was in a club that has too many blinking lights and liquor on the side. Dizzying, if I say so myself. I didn’t drink any liquor, just a can of Red Bull that I kept refilling with water afterward.

The upside of it is that I get to meet the people who are part of my 10-year otaku journey, but I felt that I’m too weak to party in a club. I’m a Tito now, and Titos of Manila don’t party like a rockstar, we’re into the casual side of things.

My kind of chill is when I get to talk to people from the other dimension. The “other dimension” happens to be Chaldea, and that’s where we are transported to.

The Entry

It was busy at the immigration. Well, I wasn’t informed that there’s immigration at the other end. I thought I had my trip checked in and taken care of!

Turns out that it’s a different kind of immigration, where they give passports as you step there. This must be some kind of new policy being implemented in Chaldea. I believe they didn’t have this system before. Maybe I can request for a multiple-entry visa next time.

Finally, we arrived at our destination – the sign says “Alice Tea House.” There, we are welcomed by around 10 servants. I failed to count all of them correctly because you can easily feel the heavy aura emanating from each of them.

It kinda felt awkward to move forward, because each servant has its own quirk, some of them I have no idea of. I was slowly sneaking to the side, and then…!

In a split-second, someone caught me.

One glance to the left, and I saw Kiyohime, smiling as she grabs me forward. It is Kiyohime, but I sense a familiar feeling. Maybe it’s just me.

But it’s still the Kiyohime we know – “the lady which comes to you ten times a roll.”

The Party

As things have settled down, I saw myself in a table with my friend Ariel, Nero Claudius… and yes, Kiyohime… beside me. I was still shocked by what happened earlier that I did my best to avoid looking at her in the eye.

As for Ariel, the poor guy had responsibilities back at our country that he did not dress up as an actual Chaldean master. Life sometimes forbids us to go all out, but there is a reason for such. Wait, I did not dress up as an actual Chaldean master too, so fair enough.

This has been my third trip to Chaldea – the first one brought me to a dreamland somewhere in the middle of eastern and western borders with desserts and a delicious burger steak at the side. The second one was in the far southwest which matured me by around two years because the look and feel of coffee is everywhere.

The session is about to start. We’re just a few feet away from Merlin, the damned wizard we have loved to hate. First, I saw an innocent Merlin, then an atrocious Merlin in my next trip after. I was hoping that Merlin has sorted himself out this tim–

Someone hurled a small plushie at Merlin, and they were enjoying it. He must have been behaving after what happened last time. Even Edmond Dantes has to intervene a bit. Well, he is our border security. He followed us all the way to keep watch on us.

The Games

Back at the table, we have a stack of Jenga blocks in front of us. It has been decided already that we will play Jenga even before we knew it.

I went with the flow and casually played along. In fact, we played well so much that we have built the second-highest Jenga tower in that session. (Hoping that the witnesses captured that moment in full detail.)

We only got beaten by the table beside us – you see, all of them are standing, staying away from the table as much as possible. One bad move and it all goes tumbling down.

At that table is Okita Souji. I believe seeing her the night before, but that might be a doppelganger who loves to party. My Okita cannot be a party monster. Again, it must be me. I’m never gonna look at those damn flashing lights.

Actio punctorum

I almost forgot to tell you that playing games with the servants ain’t free. As part of the package, I was given some pocket travel money, or actio punctorum (which translates to “Action Points” or APs). AP is now the new form of currency for quartz, recalling my first visit. The pocket money I was given was quite measly; it was not sufficient enough for me.

As for Kiyohime, the ever-supportive, clingy (yes, no doubt) maiden referred me to the shop’s money exchange. Kiyohime told me that if I played her games thrice, she will give me a memento whether I win or lose.

With that enough motivation, I proceed to place in a hundred in the desk. It’s a good thing that the shop has its own money exchange, and the exchange rate for APs is 1:1. That was the biggest mystery of the board game party: How in the world they were able to maintain such good exchange rates?

During the course of the session, I had to meet the likes of the calm beast Kiara Sesshouin and blunt ruler Jeanne d’Arc, who provided me the same memory game with different difficulties. By the way, it’s my first time to meet Kiara in person, without any research in my index of servants (I kept my index away from my hand as I enjoy the occasion).

Compared from Kiara’s casual one-rounder memory game, the ruler asked me to lit up a lighter and keep it lit until I finish two rounds. I thought it was hard, considering that too much heat can burn you (just like how the ruler was burned at the stake – slow and painful, as dreaded as the dark ages when she was alive).

The Gacha

After completing a game of slap-jack with servants and fellow masters, I went back to the currency exchange, only to realize the dreaded stall beside it.

Oh yes– I mean no, it’s the gacha.

I’m not into luck that much, but if there’s one thing that I am weary to push my luck into, that would be the gacha they are offering there. Sure, there are sure good keepsakes from it, like a photo book of all the servants which is also ready for purchase.

I just never knew the salt has manifested itself there in physical form with a bundled QR code. Yes, they now use QR codes in Chaldea.

Setting no expectation of winning or losing anything, I exchanged my wins into the lottery. After perhaps placing a hundred worth of APs, I got stickers, photos, and pieces of rare treasure they refer to as “Bond CEs,” around four of them. If I appraise the value of the items I got, it’s around triple the APs I exchanged, which is a great deal.

These, aside from two command seals bestowed upon me. It’s quite rare for me to have two command seals, which I used to play with Kiyohime for one last time and take a selfie with. I finally got her gift (a “Bond CE”) as a bonus.

The rest of the session is spent on playing another game – this time, it’s a dice-puzzle game led by the paladin Astolfo. I seem to have used all of my luck for that day, as I lost to the paladin by around three moves.

The Possession

During the course of my stay, Fou spoke to me if he can harbor in my body, which I nonchalantly agreed. To have someone so cute like Fou to have my body is amazing. We approached Merlin and I let Fou took the wheel.

Fou began to speak in my voice. “You know, I have a secret.”

“…?”

“I’m actually Fou.”

Deep inside I was laughing my ass out as Fou takes over. Look at that scared Merlin, knowing that he did something Fou still cannot understand up to this day.

The Secret

The day has ended and the masters went back home one by one. As for me, I did my best to feel the ambiance of the shop, which led me to have a sip of English Breakfast tea… at night.

The only people who are inside the shop are me and the two skilled tributes at the exchange. They were sent there to tend to the shop’s finances and logistics.

Regardless of the time-space dimension, and no matter how huge the defense funds Chaldea can spend, there are processes that even the servants can’t do by themselves. This is where the two get into action, executing the plan from the sidelines while dodging the overseers. Remember: No one in the higher-ups knows that this trip exists.

These two did teach me a special game that is only available at the shop – Triple Triad. A card has four numbers forming a compass, and each card has varying numbers. These cards will then placed in a tic-tac-toe fashion.

Here’s a catch: If you place your card in an area dominated by higher numbers, your card will now be the card of the opponent. The aim of the game is to increase the number of your cards with this kind of strategy. I wish I could explain this better, as it is a sleeper hit card game inside Chaldea.

Reflection

We eventually took the last trip home, and back to our time-space dimension. I joined the tributes in their dinner before they get back to their hometowns.

Along the way, we saw a couple of people whom the tributes know. Some of them had a fading aura similar to Kiyohime and Ozymandias’, so I know there are those kinds of people who turn up quite normal in another dimension.

That kinda reminds me of meeting Caster Gilgamesh last year – to which I wonder, they must be busy taping the on-going Babylonia TV series. Yes, Merlin was with us, I presume because he had a few lines there.

We’re back in reality, and all that matters is that we can face the next day with smiles on our faces. The board game party has been successfully accomplished.

A lot has changed in Chaldea, and I am looking forward to being alienated again by their antics. I believe they already have an idea of where to disburse next year’s defense funds. Just we wait.

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