“So now we have a princess, a mysterious knight errant, and a skulking cult of lizard men emerged from myths and beyond the depths of the known world?”
“She’s been a bit bored, yeah. Just thought you’d want to know, in case it means she’s starting to go crackers up there. Harold would just throw her back in Tower Rose, but I’m thinkin maybe we got something else she could be doing?”
Philip paused, the smoke from his cigar curling softly through the air as the Library glared on in restrained disapproval, a reminder of the strange world they’d stepped into. He had almost shaken the distracted musing when his eye fell upon the chessboard in the corner of the room. The ash of his cigar continued to smolder and fell away unnoticed.
“Well,” he said finally, sipping from his brandy to clear the dryness in his throat. “We are walking in the Land of Kings now I suppose. Such things are to be expected—the chivalrous knights and dire portents at least. No harm in humoring her for now. Perhaps a public appearance will shore up the troops and take her mind off such things?”
“Alright Philip, but I won’t have her talking to the boys about no greens.” Jenna’s image in the mirror made a swift cutting gesture. “People on edge enough as is, and superstitious nonsense like that ain’t gonna help anyone.”
As her image faded Philip plunged his cigar into the remaining brandy, which emitted an unsettling hiss as he strode across the room. Carefully he studied the six new figures on the board, for once ignoring the golden rook that had been drawing closer for days now. These pieces by comparison were nondescript, appearing to be nothing more than common pawns.
But beneath them a hard shadow stained the surface of the board, stretching and contracting in a regular rhythm, like a slumbering heartbeat cut from an unfathomable darkness.