Paddle sore, head of boar,
Give me a scepter and end a war!
Black and white, Turkish delight,
Save the land from endless night!
The jester’s ditty rang through the court, each line accentuated by some ridiculous action – a backflip, a handstand, flipping his hat upside-down. Few present could contain their mirth; even the queen herself had burst into laughter. These days there was little to be happy about. All were anxious to find some way, however small, to release a bit of tension, to relax for a while. With the enemy so close, advancing so quickly, there was little opportunity for enjoyment of simple pleasures.
The queen was speaking now, clearly amused. “So, it’s my scepter you want, is it?” She waved the rod in the air. It was a simple device, a shaft of wood painted white and adorned with a bulb of gold at one end. The queen smiled. “Well, take it, then.” Her face darkened suddenly. “Not like I’ll have much use for it in the near future…”
The scepter spun through the air, and the jester caught it deftly, grabbing it by the bulb and flourishing it as he bowed. “Thankee, milady,” he said. “If it’s all the same, I’ll take my leave.” Four backflips later, he was gone.
If the guards were perplexed by the queen’s actions, they did not show it. Times were desperate, they knew. If the jester would be prompted by the gift to provide a bit more amusement, they had little complaint.
Walking into the chamber was like submerging oneself in a bath of ink, I thought. It was altogether impossible to see anything at all, a sensation that I’d never quite grown accustomed to.
“Do you have it?” A deep voice rang out from the darkness.
“Indeed I do,” was my reply. I shook the white shaft in the direction of the voice, though I knew its owner could not see it.
“Good.” I felt the scepter wrested from my hand as my companion grabbed it and retreated off to the chambers blackest recesses.
“I’m still not convinced this is the greatest idea.”
“You have seen the horrors that this war had inflicted on both our lands. It cannot be allowed to continue.”
“No,” I sighed. “No, it can’t.” I closed my eyes, knowing what was about to happen.
The blackness behind my eyelids suddenly seared red as blinding light poured through the chamber. A few moments later, it had died down, and I opened my eyes again, finding a quartet of torches lighting a small table. At its center was drawn a box, separated into sixty-four internal squares. My companion was already seated at the table, impatiently tapping his own scepter. This one was painted black and topped with silver. The white one was lying across the table from him in front of a single empty chair.
I sat down reluctantly. My companion tapped one of the squares in the box with his scepter.
In a brilliant flash of light, a queen clad in black vanished from her throne.
Moments later, one in white faced the same fate.
A dozen guards vanished from each throne room, followed by a large contingent of nobles from their castles.
Generals vanished in seconds, military leaders in armor of snow and obsidian consumed by sudden bursts of brilliance.
And then the armies were gone, too, almost before they could wonder what was going on.
The game was set up; thirty-two pieces lined the board. My companion grinned. “White moves first!” I swallowed hard and slid my first pawn forward.
Edited by Baltarc, May 06 2013 - 09:52 PM.