Her father’s chair was too big for her. Its high back towered over Willow like the rows of bookcases in the walls. She sat cross-legged in the seat, twisting her body toward the fireplace. Her attempt at keeping warm proved useless. Every turn just froze her other side again.
Dulaine tapped his fingers on the desk in front of them. “Come on, Will. We’re playing chess, not dancing.” He nudged his white bishop forward.
“I’m cold.” She pushed a black pawn towards him.
“That’s not relevant.” He moved the bishop to the pawn’s location, knocking the it onto the table. “You can do better than that.”
The pawn gone, she pushed her rook ahead to take the bishop. But she hadn’t accounted for the knight waiting behind it. Two pieces down, she tucked her shivering hands under her hair and scowled.
“You used to love this game when we were kids.”
“No, I didn’t. I played because Andell wanted me to.” She moved another pawn forward, and it became another pawn gone. She slid her bishop to the side to avoid his queen. “I always lost.”
“Well, we’re all grown up now, so you might stand a better chance.” Protecting the bishop had left another pawn open for capture. Dulaine placed the downed piece in his growing collection. Willow hoped some of them were just the extras the set came with in case you lost one. “But if you want a better chance, we should probably start over.”
She gnawed her lip and picked up the bishop, her grip tight with the thought of having to spend another three hours with this idiot diversion. This time, she threw it at his chest. “This was your stupid idea! I don’t have time for kid’s games right now!”
“Do you? I bet you Sorian is very good at this ‘kid’s game.’ Because this little puzzle, Will, is a taste of a much bigger, much more dangerous, one. That you’re already playing.”
She folded her arms and sat back in the chair with her brow furrowed.
“When I reset the board, you’ll understand.”
Willow buried her face in her sleeves as she watched him clear the board and lay the pieces out again.
Dulaine gently placed her king off to the side and reached over for one of the extra pieces. He set it in the king’s place. Willow reached over and lifted his hand, revealing the dark horse underneath. “This was your board two days ago. But now, Sorian’s captured your black knight. And you have finish his game if you hope to see Rivek alive again.”
. - 098/100 Themes.
Dulaine exists as a moral compass for Willow, kind of a voice of reason. Oddly enough, his symbol is a horse.More Art/Writing of These Characters:
Dulaine Whitebark and Willowren Solan belong to Grace Fong,