A cursed gambler and a ghostly thief must stop a cult from gaining possession of an artifact that could unleash reality-warping demons on their city.
Rortin wondered if the burning in his stomach came from the poison or the wine. If the latter, he’d misjudged the bottle’s potency. If the former, it meant he had less than ten minutes to end this game, gather his winnings, and then find a quiet spot to give himself the antidote.
He eyed his opponent across the table. Orthule was a thin-haired old man with silvered eyes and a crinkled mouth. A known master of the game, he hunched over, hands tucked under his chin, emerging only to caress this or that gamepiece in consideration.
A miniature field of glass and bronze filled the stone board. Each piece brought its own rules to the board, but the ways it could be played also changed depending on what sat in conjunction to it. Orthule whistled to himself, unaware of Rortin’s edging towards paralysis and death.
To distract himself from the growing heat in his belly, Rortin scanned the room.
The crowd filling the deadeye gambling den kept their heads bent to slurp up noodles or sip from their glasses. Observers peered over other gambler’s shoulders, whispering to one another to preserve the near-holy aura of concentration. The place stunk of concentrated sweat and the grease of the spiced flanse a white-eyed woman—the den matron—served from a low wooden bar in the back.
Rortin checked for any hints of color in people’s eyes, any sign that the den owners had grown lax in enforcing the deadeye-only rules. He saw nothing but grays and a few white enough to have pearls in their sockets.
Our judges said, "There was a real battle between us over which entries made it into the final five runners-up - we didn't make our decision lightly, but it was in this month more than most, where we wished we could have had at least one more finalist. We should also mention that there were some stonkingly brilliant entries who could have given our finalists a battle for their place in the top six - but, alas, there was no fantasty element to be seen - don't forget to read the challenge brief in full, everyone!".