“Bet high,” his Avatar of Dice whispered.
Jace folded his hands casually on top of his flush. Across the table, his opponent mirrored the action, though hers was obscured by the bastion of chip towers arrayed around her. Her Avatar swung from one ear, a heart-shaped diamond stud. It flashed with computations.
Sweat dripped down Jace’s nose. “How high?”
“Depends on how you time it. Fifteen seconds from now.”
Right on cue, a fireball hurled up from the surrounding moat, lighting the game table up with lurid red. Unwillingly, Jace’s eyes strayed to the empty seats at the table. Even the chairs had been obliterated, along with the losing players. Scorch marks streaked the green felt. The sight of them filled Jace with fear, but beyond fear, something more hypnotic as well.
Jace stared straight into his opponent’s eyes and shoved his meager pile of chips forward. All in. She copied him at once, with no hesitation. Cocky bastard.
He traded in two cards, to no improvement. She did the same, her expression never changing.
The moment of truth. A smile cracked her face as she showed her hand.
Jace shot out of his chair and hurled towards the exit as a fireball erupted from the moat and streaked towards him. Ten seconds to make it. Behind him, his opponent howled with giddy laughter. Jace was laughing as well, flush with the thrill of it all, as his Avatar whirred with frantic recalculations of odds rapidly approaching zero.
He was at the door now. He flung himself out and wrenched it shut with less than a second to spare. The force of the fireball’s impact shook his arms. Flames licked around the edges of the door.
“Now that,” Jace panted, “is my kind of woman.”
His Avatar flashed. “The odds of her drawing that hand were practically zero.”
“She knew she was going to win. You could see it in her eyes. Hell of gambler,” Jace said in awe. He wiped the sweat from his face and straightened up. “So, what should we play next?”
“There’s blackjack, baccarat, Texas Hold ‘Em, and craps.”
“What are the stakes at baccarat?”
“An ice floor that cracks on losses. And piranhas.”
“And the win rate?”
Jace grinned. “My kind of game.” He set off towards the baccarat room, trailing smoke and soot, while his Avatar of Dice recalculated the odds of his survival on his left shoulder.