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.
Thanks to everyone who took part! Our judges said, "This was really tough, with some excellent entries. Between us, we had a list of nigh-on 20 possible winners/runners up and we could have easily had a dozen in the final count. As it is we have bashed it down to one winner - and this writer really worked on her piece and took the advice offered to her and acted on it"