Illain looked over the board with dismay. The map had been near filled with small figures, clogging every inch of spare land. Foot soldiers clamoured over one another in the forests to the south. To the north, an entire army surrounded the keep of Reedmire, and, to the west, only what could be described as a horde had completely covered the space where the city of Freemarsh had once stood.

Vismay grinned from across the table as Illain looked with increasing desperation.

‘Six hundred and forty-three days, brother, and only now do you realise you have lost,’ Vismay said, his voice grating like metal of cobblestones.

‘It’s not yet over,’ Illain insisted.

Vismay barked a laugh. ‘Not yet over? Look! Look at the board! You have lost! Accept defeat, you know the bargain.’

Illain glanced across the room to where a small table rested against the wall. On its hard, wooden top was an unassuming vial, filled to its brim with a purple liquid that swirled with rippling clouds within its glass. A lethal potion brewed once by his own hand.

‘I knew the stakes when I agreed to this,’ Illain said calmly, not taking his eyes from the board.

‘And so did Tarthus. And Virrim before him, and Lila before her. All of them drank when they had lost their pieces. Now…’ Vismay leaned forward from in his chair, his hot breath brushing Illain’s cheek. ‘It’s just us two that remain. Us and this board.’

Illain finally found what he was searching for. Stood by the darkly sketched mountaintops, a single carved figure stood with a sword drawn, most of their body concealed by a cloak. The one piece that was furthest from the warring armies. The one piece at the board’s edge, but still not the farthest from harm.

‘Surely you do not believe they will still make a difference.’ A smirk pulled Vismay’s mouth into a snarl, his teeth bared beneath his lips.

‘Stranger things have happened before,’ Illain muttered.

‘If you are referring to Lila’s pawn giving your little knight that trinket, that was only a lapse of my vision. Nothing remains to distract me now. So…’ Vismay tapped the fingers of his scarred hand with impatience, his eyes burning pits that watched Illain’s every movement. ‘You have my utmost attention.’

Photo by amirali mirhashemian on Unsplash

This was actually a small exercise from my studies this semester, an idea that I had quite a bit of fun with! Perhaps I’ll try a little spin-off with this sometime during the uni break, once I finally get some time away from all this craziness.

Stay safe folks!

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