I chose the image of the spiral staircase for my prompt this week. Twenty-minutes of furious writing and a quick copy edit later, I was left with the below. I hope you enjoy.
The Magic of Dice:
Gemma wasn’t sure where they were going. Alan and Trish had just said it was a friend’s place. Gemma wasn’t so sure when they opened the door without knocking.
“So whose place is this?” Gemma whispered as she followed them inside.
“Gary’s,” Alan replied.
“The DM guy?” Gemma asked. Gary ran Dungeon & Dragons campaigns at the local comic and games shop. Alan had been trying to talk her into one for ages.
“Yeah,” Alan replied. “He knows we’re coming,” he added.
“And why are we here?” Gemma asked.
The light was on in what looked like a living room. There were two closed doors on the right hand wall and she could see what she thought was a kitchen through a doorway at the far end of the room. To the left of that was a spiral staircase.
She’d never actually seen one in real life, so she peered down when they got closer.
“I need to pick up some dice he ordered for me,” Trish said.
“And he said he had a game to show us that you might like,” Alan added.
“Which kind of game?” Gemma asked. She liked the board games better than the role playing games. She just wasn’t that good at being anyone but herself.
“He didn’t say, but he said you’d appreciate the art if nothing else,” Alan replied.
Trish started down the spiral stairs.
“It is a basement?” Gemma asked. “Or is this a split level kind of deal?” They lived on a mountain, there were a lot of split level houses.
“Sort of both,” Alan replied as he followed Trish down.
Gemma wasn’t sure how something could be a slip level and a basement. She held onto the railing as she slowly made her way down the winding wooden steps. There was black no-slip stuff on each stair, but she still wanted a hand-hold in case she missed a step.
The lower level seemed to be all one big room. The bit that was under the kitchen held a large table with eight chairs. There was a sliding glass door in the middle of the wall behind it. The entire room was lined with shelves holding board games, books, and the occasional figure or sculpture.
It actually took Gemma a minute to see Gary because he was tucked away in a corner at a desk between two shelves. There were more shelves mounted on the wall over his desk.
“Hey, Gary,” Alan said.
“Hi guys,” Gary replied. “Just let me finish this,” he added, continuing to type.
Trish was looking at the books on a shelf two down from Gary. Alan just hung back a little behind Gary. Gemma figured he was close enough to be noticed but far enough away to not read Gary’s computer screen.
Gemma glanced at the shelves. She might as well browse while she was here. Gary was purported to have the best gaming collection in town, possibly in the county.
She didn’t even recognize a single board game on the first shelf. She wasn’t a complete neophyte, so she’d expected to recognize at least a bit of what was here.
“And, save,” Gary said before swiveling around in his chair. “Sorry to keep you waiting,” he said. “I’ve been trying to come up with a good end for that campaign forever.”
“No worries,” Trish said. “You said the dice came?”
“Right here,” Gary said, getting up and moving to a self on his right. He grabbed a small box and offered it to her.
“Awesome,” Trish said, holding the box up to the light. “These will work great.”
“Glad you like them,” Gary said.
“You mentioned a game you wanted to show Gemma,” Alan said.
“Definitely,” Gary said with a laugh. He walked across the room to a shelf near the table and the glass door. “Come look at this,” he said. “I want to know what you think.”
Gemma followed Trish and Alan over to the table as Gary set the box down and pulled off the lid, which he handed to Alan.
Gemma stopped next to Alan to look at the lid.
The background was some kind of generic forest or jungle. A lot of green and just a hint of tree shapes. In the middle of all that were three figures. One in plate armor, one in a dark robe with a full hood that hid their face, and one that looked like it might be a woman in a dress. None of the art was particularly spectacular.
“So what is it?” Gemma asked.
“I don’t know,” Gary replied. “That’s why I wanted to show it to you.”
Gemma frowned as she moved to the table. Why would she have any insight?
Gary had been emptying the box while Gemma looked at the box art. There were three glass vials with cork stoppers, three squares of what looked like silk in green, black, and red, a yellowed piece of paper Gary was still unfolding, and three metal twenty-sided dice.
“Where did you get it?” Trish asked.
“The shop,” Gary replied. “Marshal found it in the back and sold it to me for a dollar.”
“Is it even a game?” Gemma asked as she picked up one of the vials. It felt like real glass. She touched the black square and was pretty sure it was real silk.
“We weren’t sure,” Gary replied.
“The dice imply game,” Alan said.
Gemma picked up one of the dice.
“They’re heavy. Probably solid metal,” she said. Gemma gently rolled the die across the table. It made a satisfying noise against the wooden table.
The cork popped out of the vial in Gemma’s hand and began filling the room with smoke.
“What?” Gemma managed to ask before the smoke got too thick. She tried to set the vial down on the table, but it seemed stuck to her hand.
“Guys?” she called, hoping someone was okay.
She heard coughing, and then a strange ringing, and then nothing.
“Guys?” she asked again,
“I’m here,” Alan said.
The smoke began to clear around them.
“And where is here?’ Gemma asked next.
The walls had vanished, and so had the table for that matter. There was grass beneath her feet, wind moving her hair across her back, and she though she heard an owl.
“I have no idea where here is,” Gary said, still holding the folded paper.
“Well, it’s not your apartment,” Gemma replied.
“Trish?” Alan asked.
There was no answer.
The fog continued to clear.
They were in a forest clearing. And there was no sign of Trish.