Chapter 1:

A Rigged Game

A Rigged Game

The young Goddess stared in disbelief at the ridiculous hand that had managed to beat her two pairs.

“You cheated again,” she snapped, glaring at her opponent.

The God merely chuckled while interlacing his fingers behind his head, leaning comfortably against his dark seat.

“It’s not my fault that you don’t know how to read bluffs, my Lady.” The God’s smirk widened while tilting his head, continuing talking in that deep voice that never failed to scare the lesser gods that dared to annoy him. “But I’m feeling in a good mood today. If you want a rematch, I can honor you with one.”

The Goddess clicked her tongue with annoyance and crossed her arms while dropping back against her ostentatious white chair.

“No, thank you. Unlike humans, I learn from my past mistakes.” She half-closed her eyes at the grinning God, but despite her anger, the white aura that surrounded her couldn’t compete with the dark one that surrounded her rival. “Last time I didn’t just lose one soul, but you managed to steal one that should have been mine instead.”

“Well, even if I have no wish to anger the Goddess of Life even more…”

“Tsk, I bet that’s precisely what you’re about to do.”

“...I must concede that your strategy during our last game wasn’t very wise. Or should I remind you, my Lady, that it was you who insisted on doubling the bet, by adding the soul of a human that, as you say, could very well have been yours?”

“I had a straight flush in my hand. The odds that you had a royal flush to beat it were almost non-existent!”

After a few seconds of silence, The God removed his hands from behind his head in order to lean his elbow on the table between them, where cards were scattered on the surface. He then leaned his chin on his knuckles while staring at the Goddess. His smile was still in place, but a warning tinge adorned the words he pronounced next.

“I know you are still young, and in the process of following in your predecessor's steps. So here you have a little piece of advice, my Lady.” The God’s tone became even more serious. “Never underestimate the odds when playing against me, and never forget that human lives are at stake here. Because the same as you, I have a duty to fulfill. There are souls that I must collect for my Kingdom in order to guarantee its prosperity. And I’m sure you have realized by now that inexperience is not going to make me be more merciful.”

The Goddess gulped subtly. She managed to keep the intense stare of the God for a few seconds before huffing. She leaned her crossed arms on the table as her eyes diverted towards the big frame that practically covered one of the walls, where the previous Goddess of Life had been represented.

“You are right. My predecessor warned me about you.”

The God laughed haughtily. “Of course she did. And what did she exactly tell you? Probably that I’m the best rival that she ever had.”

The Goddess nodded. “She did. She told me I should never lower my guard, and that luck in games seemed to be by your side most of the time.” An amused smile appeared on her face. “Probably to compensate for other areas where you were not so lucky.”

The God blinked twice. “Wait, did she also mention–”

“--that you never stopped courting her, and that it was cute seeing you try so hard just to fail over and over again?” It was the young Goddess’ turn to smile with satisfaction when the God’s eyes opened wide in disbelief before a dumbfounded expression appeared in his face. “Oh yes, she did.”

The God snorted while crossing his powerful arms, mimicking the posture of the young Goddess. “That goddess was even more merciless than I am.” A smirk played in his lips. “I guess that is the reason I fell so hard for her.”

The Goddess snorted softly before shaking her head. After a new silence, now more comfortable than the previous one, the Goddess spoke.


“Yes, my Lady?”

Eros sighed before looking at the God. “Are they finally happy now?”

Even if the question was really ambiguous, there was understanding in Thanatos’ eyes, showing he perfectly knew who she was referring to. “Yes, they are.”

The tone of the usually merciless God of Death was surprisingly soft and gentle, causing the young Goddess to smile with relief.

“That’s good then.” She uncrossed her arms and signaled to Thanatos with a nod, acknowledging his winning hand. “Shouldn't you call your Messenger? We still have to do a few Soul Judgements before the day ends.”

Eros was already expecting to see Thanatos snap his fingers to invoke his characteristic white butterflies; the ones in charge of delivering both the result of the Judgement, and also manifest in the Human World to make the soul’s last trip as comfortable as possible.

To Eros’ surprise, Thanatos collected the scattered cards and began shuffling them.

“As I’ve said, I’m in a good mood today, my Lady.” Thanatos smiled at her. “To the best of three?”

Eros smiled and nodded.

“Bring it on.”

Jon Spencer
A Rigged Game cover

A Rigged Game

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