“Games of Chance” was originally written for Literary Escapism’s Midnight Games series. It is set somewhere in Galilae, taking place in the time immediately before Fallen begins.
A Fallen short story:
Augustine made his way slowly through camp with Cato by his side. The sun had been up for several hours, but many of Augustine’s soldiers were still sleeping off the previous night’s debauchery. Arms were thrown over eyes. Heavy snores disturbed the stillness of the morning air. Looking at the disorder around him, it was hard to believe they would be ready for an invasion by sundown, but Augustine knew from experience they would be.
“Everything is in place.” He meant it as a question even though Augustine framed it as a statement.
Cato had more than enough familiarity with him to know he expected an answer, though, and hummed his assent. “Yes, we’ve been assured the bulk of the guards around the perimeter will have been removed from duty and none of the guards will be in place outside the bedrooms. Grabbing the royal family should be simple.”
Even if they did not have inside help, taking control of the palace would not have posed a challenge. The place was severely under protected. The real test would be in ensuring everything was done quietly and without raising alarm in the rest of Galilae. This was why Augustine had decided to enlist help, even if it was risky to trust such an important task to a man that was about to betray his own kingdom.
Quiet laughter drew Augustine’s attention. A small group of his soldiers sat around a makeshift table playing a game of dice.
“I cannot believe you returned to camp so early,” Lucius teased good-naturedly. “Were it me, I might have never returned.”
“She was a sweet girl,” Seneca defended.
“A very sweet girl,” Lucius insisted, indicating to the rest of the players that she had a large pair of tits.
A much louder bout of laughter followed that statement.
Seneca shoved Decimus. “Take your roll, or should we skip you while you take your cock in hand?”
More jeering ensued, but Decimus grabbed the two dice from the table. “Not a chance, boy. General. Captain.” Decimus greeted both Augustine and Cato with a nod. The other soldiers hadn’t noticed their approach and snapped to attention. “You care to join us?” Decimus continued, the only member of the group un-phased by their presence. “This is a new round.”
“I think not,” Augustine said lightly.
“Feeling unlucky? That does not bode well,” Decimus jested.
“I make my own luck,” Augustine retorted. “This is a game of chance, there is no skill involved.”
Decimus smiled genially and raised his hand to roll. “Suit yourself.”
Before he released the dice, Cato interjected. “Just one roll, General, lest your men think you believe yourself too good for them.”
Augustine met his friend and second’s smirk with a glare that held no heat. “You are a real shit, Cato,” Augustine said, to which Cato’s mouth curved in spite of the jab. “One roll,” Augustine agreed. “Where does everyone stand?”
“Seneca is at eight, Lucius threw snake eyes – bad luck, friend – and I’ve yet to roll.” Decimus held up the dice. “Superiors first.”
“Best for last,” Augustine deferred and Decimus threw an eleven.
“I do apologize for making you look bad,” Decimus teased and handed over the dice.
Augustine snorted as he rolled, wasting no time on superstitious rituals. Cheering erupted at the double sixes staring toward the sky and Augustine smirked at his Lieutenant. “The Throw of Aphrodite,” Augustine told him. “You lose.”
“The gods favor you,” Decimus chuckled, handing over the coins Augustine had won.
Of course they did. His record would suggest they always had. “Never forget it.”
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