Mirrored from Sythyry.
In case you need to have your prejudices about the transaffectionate confirmed — or about the nature of Kismirth — you have but to visit the Cartesan Casino. [The name in Ketherian is one letter off from "Courtesan", and suggests games of chance. It's not 'Cartesian'.] There’s another casino, larger and cheaper and more splendid, but devoid of the surprising feature, or misfeature, of the Cartesan one.
We have taken it as an axiom that anyone visiting Kismirth on vacation might be hoping for some body-play. Probably with someone of another species. Kismirth is not going to be fussy about the details. Our smallish but growing tourism industry will do its very best to satisfy our tourists’ wishes, with considerable safety, for a fair price.
Safety? Kismirth is very very safe! Its walls are far heavier than Vheshrame’s! (Never mind why we think we might need them that heavy.)
Are you worried about someone scrying on you? Scrying and the like are broadly blocked in all of Kismirth. (Certain exceptions apply.)
Blackmail? Our professional tourism associates are bonded; they will expect terrible punishments if they violate the trust of the client-professional relationship. (Or at least they’ll lose some money.)
Annoying your spouse by going off for six hours alone and coming back smelling of Herethroy? A six-hour trip to the Quick Quarter will take less than one hour, and our first-class short-term-hotelliers will make sure that you are impeccably presentable to family and friends.
The pangs of conscience? Well, you see, it’s absolutely not your fault that you buried your muzzle in the tweff of that appealing-but-you’d-never-admit-it Herethroy, while a bunch of other people watched and laughed and cheered, and you licked away as if you’d been wishing for it all your life and you might never get another chance, because, outside of Kismirth, you might not ever get the chance again, unless you admit to yourself that you actually crave it and make the minor-but-actual effort to find it.
Well, maybe it’s your fault you joined the Forfeits of Fornication game in the first place. That’s one of the high-stakes tables at the Cartesan Casino. And, even if you lose, you’re not obliged to perform with the other loser in public; you could pay a penalty-fee and have eggs thrown at you to the sounds of the Gongs of Mockyful Derision instead. (That happens twice or thrice a day.) But Forfeits of Fornication is a game of skill. You and eight other players, secretly picking colored balls to roll to the cauldron in the center, and betting on the pattern that results.
(Despite the name, the forfeit doesn’t require more than a sincere-looking sizzling kiss. We’ve got between four and ten rooms for the game, with a spectrum of recommended levels of forfeits.)
(We — mostly Feralan — did the math. A player who wants to be one of the seven winners has pretty good chances; that part isn’t interesting. A player who wants to be one of the two losers — and, presumably, to be fornicating in the middle of the room by way of forfeit — has reasonable chances of being able to lose.)
There’s a small chance that attempting to lose will be detectable. If you bet on a certain configuration occurring, and don’t play anything that will lead towards it, and nobody else does either, watchers might get suspicious. (Well, that’s assuming that your jealous spouse is watching, though, of course, why you are playing that particular game at all with your jealous spouse watching is an interesting question worthy of a long apologistic tract. Playing to lose is definitely not considered cheating as far as the Casino is concerned.)
You can, incidentally, buy extra balls during the game, and if you buy three, it is impossible for anyone to tell that you are cheating. (By mathematics, it is impossible. It’s a different matter if your jealous spouse knows your every thought.)
In fact, cheating is kind of expected. If you are playing to lose and everyone else is playing to win — which happens, believe it or not! — there’s a very good chance that you will lose. If, in addition, you are trying to pick one other person to lose with you, there’s a good chance that you will get your choice. If many people are playing to lose, then there are good chances — over half in many cases — that the loser gets their consort of choice.
So really it’s a game that gives you the chance to enjoy the fellow player of your choice, in public, without anyone being intellectually certain that you intended to do so. Even, or especially, not yourself.
Oh, you can win money too. You don’t win any from one round though. You have to play a dozen rounds to be eligible for any prizes, and thirty to be eligible for the biggest prize. You pay a fee for each round you play, plus extra to buy extra balls or special goals. The cash prizes aren’t all that big. None of the cash prizes for gambling in Kismirth are very big.
Well, the game was reasonably popular, but lots of people hated the forfeits. We played some forfeit-less rounds, and filled the room and then lots. It’s a reasonably engaging game.
So we put together a semi-decent version where the forfeit is being locked up in a small room, just big enough for a bed, with the other loser for a while. The assumption is that the losers will take that opportunity to fornicate — teasing is all but obligatory. I suspect that mostly they don’t.
Actually, I can find out. Here’s me, asking the housekeeping department: “ask!”. The housekeepers say that maybe one bed in ten or twenty shows unambiguous signs of intimacy. Of course, intimacy doesn’t always leave clear signs on bedclothes.
And there are some other tables we’ve added. Single-species tables are quite popular. I suppose tourists come here thinking to experiment with other species, and then chicken out. They’re still performing in public in a mixed-species crowd, so that’s something, I suppose. We’ve got ‘hot tables’, where the current players can blackball new players; they tend to be single-species and only the more conventionally attractive of that species.
And of course we have kid’s tables. The prices are low: the adult tables take lozens [1 lozen is loosely $10], the kids’ tables take terch [1 terch is loosely a quarter].. They are in a small room that’s just kid’s tables. The bouncers are very strict, and will give you the evil eye and tell you to go to a different room if you make an off-color remark. The forfeit is singing a silly little ditty as a duet with the other loser.
Our balls rolled down the table with a clack, clack, clack
We cried about the colors that we lack, lack, lack
We haven’t got the slightest bit of luck, luck, luck
And now we’re up here quacking like a duck, duck, duck
Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack!
I wish we didn’t have ‘hot tables’. The atmosphere around them is rather ugly, even if the players themselves are attractive.
I’m not much happier about the single-species tables. That’s not the point of the casino, or of Kismirth. Still, they’re always full, even when the multi-species rooms aren’t very crowded. We do keep the single-species room pretty small, so that it has to overflow to the original game rooms.
People come in to watch and not play — I think that maybe a third of the people in the sex-forfeit rooms don’t play. They do buy snacks and such.
The original game, with obligatory sexplay … well, we were trying to give our visitors an excuse to themselves for tasting transaffection. The game sort of evolved from there. I suppose it’s just an advanced form of Spin The Bottle, ultimately. The people who play it seem to enjoy it, maybe too much, so I suppose that’s got to be good, right?
This is not a high-profit game, neither for the house nor for the players. It’s not a high-risk game either. We — Castle Wrong, which is to say, the builders and initial governors of Kismirth — have decided that we don’t want to be in the business of utterly shearing visitors. We’d rather provide a variety of wholesome and unwholesome entertainments, with profits distributed fairly widely. The ultimate goal of Kismirth is to take care of its inhabitants, and of wrongfolk even if they’re tourists.
We need money to do so, among other things, but we are not particularly trying to get ourselves rich off of Kismirth. (Well, Grinwipey is, but never mind that.) (We are not entirely consistent about this: Arfaen is making a good deal of money off her share of the kitchen’s profits.)
We have been told, more than once, “This is no way to run a casino! You must have high-stakes games! You must have pit bosses who watch your table-masters to see that they don’t pocket hundreds of lozens from the thousands that pour through their tables! You must have accountants, investigators, and an attitude of fear and surveillance throughout! You must offer free drinks so that your marks will spend more! We shall open a casino in Kismirth based on these principles! You get a 1% cut — you personally — just for making easy to us.”
To which we responded by making laws that severely curtail the maximum bets allowed in Kismirth. They’re not high. A diligent and unlucky gambler could probably manage to lose a thousand lozens in a day — and yes, that’s a lot of money — but it’s not the millions of lozens that big gambling centers slurp down. More typically they’ll lose a couple dozen lozens in a day — not a ridiculous price for a few hours’ entertainment (and sex) on vacation.
Actually, after thinking it through to write this essay, I’m not at all sure we should have done this at all. It seems emotionally volatile and morally mischancy. So far it’s been OK. Only one person has accused their fellow-loser of rape, and they lost the case once in court, once in the legeriat, and seventy times in the broadsheets — it’s not rape because you consent to it half a dozen times before lip meets spip, with at least one reasonable alternative at each stage, and yes, plenty of people a day take the alternatives at each stage.
But it can be something you can regret doing, you can even regret it to the point of divorce or suicide. Just like any other sort of affair or fling or drunken escapade or whatever.
Well, the more I write about it, the less comfortable I feel with it. It’s out of my paws now anyhow.