Prelude: “Landing on Edge”

“Man, the dice are loving you guys tonight.” Dusty shook his head. “Dramatic fail for Razor.”

“How the heck are we going to get out of this one?” Josh complained. John had his head buried in one of the supplemental rulebooks, flipping quickly through the pages.

“Maybe we’ll get lucky and one of the greater deities will intervene.” Chauncey joked, grinning at Logan and Ellie. “It’s been a while since we’ve seen any of our older relatives.”

Chauncey snapped his lucky coin between thumb and forefinger, setting it to spinning like a globe.

Dusty looked at Chauncey through narrowed eyes. He picked up several dice and rolled them behind the screen. He rolled them again and looked deliberately mysterious.

Logan punched Chauncey in the arm.

“Don’t give the ST ideas,” he hissed. “Rule zero!”

Dusty smirked.

~*~

Chance grunted as Razor’s boot slammed into his abdomen. Jaraj and Jaraj were strung up in chains. Vitus and Eloine were out of sight, unconscious somewhere in the shadows. They had tried to rush Razor during Chance’s distraction.

That plan had not worked out well.

Razor’s boot slammed into Chance again.

“Not so lucky now, are you?” Razor laughed. “How unfortunate…for you.”

“Enough.” A new voice issued from the shadows.

Death stepped into the flickering torchlight.

~*~

“Damnit, Chauncey!” Logan growled. “How many times do we have to tell you. Rule zero!”

Chauncey grinned. He ripped a piece of paper out of his notebook and started scribbling on it.

“Don’t worry, guys, I have a plan…”

He passed the note to Ellie.

~*~

Tattered robes of black samite hung from Death’s thin and skeletal frame. Razor stepped backward and fell to one knee.

“Father.”

“Rise.” Death extended a pale hand.

Razor leapt to his feet. He grabbed Chance by the hair and forced the bruised godling to look unto the face of Death.

Chance grinned weakly. “Uncle. I almost didn’t recognize you without your horse.”

“Where is the Scythe? Tell me, and your demise will be gentle and sweet.”

“Tell you what, Uncle.” Chance coughed. “I’ll play you for it. Right here. Right now. Bust out that old chessboard you’re always carrying around. I challenge you.”

~*~

“Bold move,” Dusty said, “have an action point for sheer chutzpah.” He tossed a piece of root beer taffy to Chauncey.

Chauncey caught it and grinned. He glanced around the table.

“Are we sure we want to go through with this?”

The other players grinned and nodded. Dusty looked both expectant and wary.

“Okay, so I want to roll to negotiate the terms of the match,” Chauncey began, “and I’ll use an action point.” He unwrapped the taffy and popped it into his mouth. “The main concession I want is that any draw game, Chance wins…”

~*~

“I accept your terms,” Death said hollowly. There was the faintest hint of amusement lurking in his sepulchral tones. “We shall flip for it, as you say, to determine white and black—”

Chance grinned, reopening the split on his lip, and reached into his pocket for his lucky coin.

“—but we shall use this.” Death withdrew a coin of iron and lead from his robes. It was embossed on one side with a grinning skull and on the other with a device of crossed bones.

“No sorcery, mortal or divine, can affect the fall of this coin. The outcome shall be eminently equitable.”

Chance’s smile froze. His face went grim.

“Fine. But I get the toss.”

“Of course.” Death proffered the coin. “Heads, I choose. Tails, you choose.”

Chance stared at the coin.

~*~

Author: Trip Galey

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