Flight, Chapter Forty Five

Chapter 45

Elymas relaxed as well. He flung his dice . . . and rolled a two.

“Ha! Ha, Ha!” Nervous laughter, the same as that day in the Great Throne Room, only this time it was cut off by a whack to Ara’s head, administered by Strout.

Complete silence reigned.

Slowly, Quinn raised his head. The hate emanating from Elymas was palpable.

‘I’ll roll first,” said the Earth Skyll. His voice was smooth, but Quinn saw the rage in his eyes.

“As you will,” replied Quinn.

His remark was met by a contemptuous snort. What had he expected? His permission hadn’t been necessary. Every time he encountered Elymas, he’d been made a fool.

The Skyll muttered something under his breath and rolled a sixteen. Quinn prayed for half that and rolled a twenty eight.

A perfect score that caused an even deeper silence. Quinn said nothing, knowing he was on dangerous ground.

“Luck,” Strout followed with an obscenity, then spat on the ground.

“Luck? My faithful Strout, no one is that lucky,” Elymas’s voice was gentle, as if dispelling a child of a naive belief. “At least not in my experience, but who can say? I’m only three hundred years old.”

Laugher again. This time permitted.

“May I examine the dice?”

Quinn handed them over. He had nothing to hide. His were the same as the roughly crafted dice handed out to the rest.

Elymas made a show of holding each die up to the sun. Then, he weighed them separately in each plan, then together in and finally said, “These dice are weighted.”

“They can’t be!” His shout was so loud that the stallion in the barn raised its head in alarm.

“They are weighted. I could not be more certain.” Authority was in his voice. He tossed them up, allowing them to land in the dust. Without being told, Strout retrieved them.

Quinn knew he would never get them back. He would never prove his case.

“Where did you get them?”

“From you, Sir. There were part of the–“

“From me? I gave you these dice?” The Earth Skyll’s voice boomed across the stable yard, incredulous and angry.

Quinn flushed to his roots. “Not directly, Sir, the dice were in the pocket of one of the tunics. We all received them. This tunic.” He held out his shirt, then pointed at Strout. ‘I received my robe and trousers, along with the rulla dice from him.” He pointed to Strout. Even as he did so, Quinn knew it was a childish, desperate action.

Elymas took exception at once.

Pointing a finger at my loyal servant, Strout?

“Pointing the finger at my loyal servant Strout? A liar as well as a cheat.”

“I am neither.” Surely he should shut his mouth. Surely, he couldn’t. “The dice are not weighted.”

“I say they are.”

It was a battle he was destined to lose. With a snarl, Elymas turned and began limping back to the castle.

Quinn continued to stand, head down. He didn’t look up when he was punched or shoved. Nor did he move when he felt the spit on his face or the warm piss against his leg.

He didn’t move until everyone was gone.

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