The Third String.
Tales from a Dagda Bard
The Third String.
Tales from a Dagda Bard
The space was warm and comfortable, it's earthy scents surrounding her as she readied the game pieces. The darkness of her home was alleviated by a large warm fire crackling joyfully on the hearth and candles circuiting the main chamber. Company was coming.
As the last piece was placed on the board she took a moment to admire her work.
Tiles of blackthorn interspersed with oak blackened from the bog set a checkered pattern across its surface, sanded smooth by her hand. The chess pieces were carved in matching woods and stood sentinel ready for the challenge to come.
Staring at the pieces she plotted and forged her strategies. Tactical positioning and preplanned manoeuvres. Her hand fondly stroked the queen piece, some would say the most versatile and powerful of the game. This had pleased her greatly when first she encountered this game.
She did not miss the heavy tread of her opponents arrival. He often lumbered about making great show of stomping slowly along, but all of this was to her just that, a show. She of all knew how silent and subtle he could be should be wish it.
Stepping into the room, he gave her a broad grin to which she replied with a raised eyebrow. Doffing his coat he hung it upon the rack and produced from its deep pockets a bottle of wine.
Fetching two goblets he poured them both a measure, which she accepted with a slight nod. The wine was deep red with a heady full flavour. Her favourite. Holding the goblet up she inhaled its scent, savouring the moment, then allowed its liquid to caress her lips.
She looked up to see him admiring her work with an impressed appraisal. His thick fingers stroking each in turn from queen down to pawn. He was set to play the blackthorn and so awaited her opening move.
The game began as she sent forth her pawns in sacrifice for position on the field. Her knights, moved about in sweeping manoeuvres, reaped a tally among the pawns of her opponent and he moved slowly in defence. Bishops plied their angles deep into the opposite side of the field as her queen made her presence felt in every section of the field from attack to defence.
The game wore on with pieces falling to her planned strategies, a victory seemed assured time and again, yet always seemed to fall short of killing his King as he managed to build a defence from what appeared to be a formless mass of pieces but a moment before.
Her frustration grew to be so blocked but she would not be stayed. With an aggressive twist to her strategies she pushed further into his lines, taking more territory from him yet aware that this caused her to sacrifice more pieces.
All the while he remained resolute, pulling stoic defence time and again whilst being whittled down in number but tightening his holding each turn.
With a short pause of consideration he picked up his last pawn, loan survivor of the earlier massacre in centre play and placed him forward, taking her piece and claiming a new advantage. With a sigh he sat back to sip again from his goblet.
Her eyes narrowed and looked from him to the board and back. The outcome was clear.
Every move she could make would bring ruin to not only his forces but also to hers. In one simple move he had cornered her play and she finally saw that this had been his strategy from the start.
With a cold frustration she raised her hand to make her move when the room was filled with a Crack!
The table toppled to its side and the pieces spilled across the floor, the moment forever lost for that game.
The table leg had snapped. Broken through from old age wear and tear.
The Dagda moved about the floor carefully collecting the chess pieces, ensuring no harm had befallen them and that they were safely returned to the Morrigan.
I'm sorry love. That old table I made for you seems to have let us down at last. How about we call that one a draw eh?
His grin was broad and his eyes sparkled with mischief. She couldn't be sure the table had simply just ceased to function correctly or if it was assisted towards its demise. With a smirk on her face she closed the box on her pieces.
Pour me another measure of that wine ya big oaf.
And the Dagda was more than happy to comply.
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An Scéalaí Beag