The dull sound of bones clattering thudded against the dirt floor of the small stone hovel. Dim torch light flickered throughout the room and the raspy voice of an aged man whispered, “Twelve pips, I win again.” The six bone pieces had eight sides and were in the shape of diamonds. Three of the sides had three pips, three had two pips, and two sides had one pip. The game involved guessing how many pips would be showing when the dice were rolled. The young boy sitting on the dirt floor across from the old man slapped the bone dice away, crossed his arms and gave a low, “Hmph!” The old man wore a gray, tattered robe and stood himself up on his wooden walking stick. Despite his age he had toned muscles – obviously from a life of hard labor. “Now Aun, no need to—” the old man was interrupted, “It’s not fair! Why are you so lucky and I’m not? It’s just a guessing game and I can’t beat you, not even once!” The young boy whined. He was in his early teens and tall for his age, with curly blond hair. He had dark skin and looked like he had been carved from stone. He walked over to the small window, a carved out opening in the hovel, and stared into the hazy night sky. "If father were still alive, he’d let me win once, then we’d laugh about it. Mother would tell “us boys” to keep it down, or we’d be hung from our toes and skinned alive by the dragons. Sister would have been proud of me for winning, she used to look up to me." He gazed with a somber expression on his face. " Aunglass , she still looks up to you, just not from this world. And don’t you forget, your father was my son, and I knew him well, he would have made you earn your victory. Your mother was wise to be fearful of the dragons, it’s why you’re still alive." The old man lectured. Aunglass looked down and replied “I know, I just miss them.” The old man sighed, “As do I, grandson, but just like our game, it’s not about controlling the outcome of our lives, it’s about knowing and accepting it. If you spend all your time resenting what life gives you, you’ll always be a step behind.” The boy looked over and raised an inquisitive eye at his grandfather. “Soooo, what you’re telling me is that you’re a cheater.” The old man let out an abrupt chuckle but quickly put his hand over his mouth. “Let us get some rest, we don’t want to give the dragons a reason to discard us, I rather enjoy beating you at our game.” The old man winked as he snuffed out the torch and slid into his cot. “I’ll go to bed shortly.” Aunglass gazed out the window for some time before finally retiring to his cot.

The night went by – Many nights went by. Years continued to pass. The booming roar of a dragon bellowed in the distance as the first rays of dawn crested the horizon. Aunglass glanced over at the empty cot across his hovel. His grandfather had passed years ago but Aunglass thought of him every day. No longer a boy, he stood just under seven feet tall, having to crouch slightly in his home. His bulging, muscular arms reached for his mining pick and slung it through his belt loop. His curly golden locks bounced as he leaned over to grab his feeding bowl from beside his old, tattered cot. He took a deep breath and stepped up to the hovel’s doorway for the last time. He reached into his small, leather pouch attached to his belt loop and pulled out the six eight-sided bone dice, rolled them around in his hand for a few seconds then threw them over his left shoulder with his eyes closed. “Six.” He whispered, as he lifted his head and opened his eyes. Without looking back, he walked straight into the day that he knew would come.

Lies Beneath

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