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The Eternal Game

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The Eternal Game Empty on Tue Feb 21, 2017 2:04 pm

Ariana Firinne
The thin, white curtains over the windows billowed lazily as a gentle breeze swept into the apartment. Aside from those curtains the room was nearly empty. A single chair situated in front of a solitary table in the center of the room were the only pieces of furniture currently residing in the three room home. In this chair sat a lone woman dressed as if she was prepared to attend the funeral of a close loved one. At her feet lay an icy blue creature of clear vulpine descent. The creature lay sleeping, and by her careful movements the woman was making an attempt to allow this creature its rest. Atop the wooden table sat a chess board with its pieces arranged in such a way that one might assume the game being played had been going on for a while. The board was made of a dark rosewood, a testament to its age and value. One half of the pieces were carved from rose quartz, and the other half were molded from hematite in clear contrast to their counterparts. The seated woman presently held the remaining hematite knight as the other had been removed from play many moves ago. She carefully palmed the exquisite peace while she pondered her latest move. Her opponent had left her very little space to maneuver if she intended to keep her knight, but he had always been quite clever.

Ariana had met her mysterious opponent years ago, and it was at that time that their little game had begun. She had been puzzled at first by the length of their game, but had come to see it as a strangely therapeutic experience over the years. This game was one of the few constants in her life, and it offered some sense of permanence in a time when such things were few and far in between. The familiar feel of the knight was a reminder of this peace, and Ariana felt glad to have it at such a time. After months of planning she was getting ready to set the first few steps of her plan into action, and it had caused her no small amount of anxiety to get this far. The constant machinations had left her drained on more than one occasion, and even now the exhaustion found a way to seep into her bones as she sat alone in near silence. The only indication of the presence of life within the apartment would be Lucina's breathing while she slept at Ariana's feet.  

Soon enough, it would be time to leave the quiet apartment in order to commence the first step of her plans, but for now, at least, Ariana had a moment to collect herself. It had been good fortune that the chess set had appeared to her that day. Now more than ever she found herself desiring that feeling of ease that she had once known as a constant. That time was long ago, and even she had trouble remembering it at times, but the feeling remained to some degree. Losing herself to this simple task afforded her that feeling if only for a brief period. The stone piece in her hand had long grown warm from the exchange of heat between the two surfaces, but Ariana was confident she still had time. This was a game three years in the making, and she could still remember every one of the last thirteen moves made. The length of time for this particular move was looking to be quite shorter than the rest she had made save for her first and second. At one time she had spent two days deciding on a move, but she did not have that kind of leisure to afford any longer.

After another ten minutes of careful thought, Ariana finally placed her remaining knight directly adjacent to her opponents only remaining bishop. The setup of the board was now in her favor, and that alone left her with a sense of pride in her work. She would likely be in the opposite situation once the board came back to her, but for now she was quite content with the way things were; a very rare feeling for her to have. Reaching to the left of the board, Ariana retrieved a pencil and an exquisitely bound leather journal. Opening it to the third page, Ariana cataloged her move on the diagram of the board that her opponent had provided when the game first began. Closing the journal with the pencil encased within, Ariana set to carefully packing up all of the materials into their handcrafted case. Once the set was packed away and locked Ariana gently stood from her chair, careful to wake up her companion as delicately as she could as she did so. Lucina perked up slowly, and as she saw that her lady was preparing to leave she retrieved the object that Ariana had entrusted to her. The fox-like creature offered it to her lady with tentative care just as Ariana had. The shattered remains of the object that could have once been called a crown now served only as an agent of anonymity for the woman who wore it. The silver band fit perfectly over the eyes of its wearer, giving her an even deeper sense of mystery than she normally had. Ariana deftly picked up the chess case and carried it with her to the door with Lucina following close behind. Looking back into the room with the door now slightly ajar, Ariana allowed herself one last moment of serenity before she stepped out into the hall. Descending the two flights of stairs back into the lobby, Ariana handed the case over to the building's owner who remained comfortably seated in his office. He took the fine container from her with a gracious nod which Ariana returned without a thought. This had been the ritual she had followed every time the case had been delivered to her, and just as she had today she would repeat the process some time down the line. The case could take weeks or even months to reappear, but it would find her as it always did. Taking her leave of the apartment building, Ariana lifted Lucina into her arms, and quickly the two faded into the depths of the town's crowds. Their presence would not be noticed for they were but cogs in this machine, and no cog ever need shine brighter than the others.


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