Dominus, Book 3. Unedited and subject to change. Allerix and Max. 😀
Roman bronze Tali (knucklebone gaming pieces)
“Your final toss, Dacian. May Fortuna be with you,” Max grumbled before swallowing another gulp of the mediocre wine he’d brought in a plain ceramic pitcher along with two portions of cheese, eggs, and bread. Gaius had decided Alle needed a babysitter to keep an eye on him while the demon king dined a stone’s throw away at the hilltop mansion. Poor Maximus had been saddled with the thankless task of guarding Gaius’s knife-nicking barbarian concubine. Fortuna wasn’t with Max lately.
Allerix tossed the knucklebones onto the table’s surface. If he understood the rules, he was winning.
Max leaned down to study the gaming pieces. “Four. You threw four ones—the dog’s throw. Fucking terrible cast, and I have one more chance to defeat you.”
“After you win, can we stop playing this children’s game, sir?”
“Tali is not a child’s game when men play it.” Max poured himself another cup of grape and leaned back in his chair. After he crossed his thick arms, he pursed his lips as sadness drenched his rich brown eyes, “Nicomedes loved to play Tali—by the gods, that gorgeous imp always managed to beat me. I never had the chance to gift him the set of bronze knucklebones I’d bought him for the Saturnalia.”
Sorrow hung heavy over the marble table until Allerix broke the silence. “I’m sorry you’re stuck with me, sir. It’s really not necessary for you to watch me. I would have obeyed Dominus’s orders and remained here in his master chamber.”
“Apparently Commander Fabius doesn’t trust your obedience.” Max scooped up the four alabaster playing pieces. “In addition to my enthralling company, you’re blessed with two armed guards stationed out in the hallway.”