"Yes," he said as he laid out a finely carved wooden board. It was covered in black and white squares, painted in bold, outstanding colors, and the whole thing shined like nothing Llorne had ever seen before. "It is a game from a world away. One of chiefs and paupers, scientists and priests, and a game you will learn to play."
"Okay," she replied as he placed each piece on the board in their proper place. "But why?"
"There are many things I know, and much of it is difficult to understand, let alone learn." He places his hand alongside the board, palm down, then pulls back, revealing a T shaped piece of twisted metal with a long chain trailing out behind it. Its darkened steel seemed to sparkle with a light with no true source. "If you can learn to play this game, and beat me in a match, this will be yours, along with all I can teach."
"But how can I beat you?" Llorne protested. "If you know so much, perhaps you know how to beat me every time."
"This is true, but I promise you that I will play at a level that is comparable to your abilities. The game will be fair." She didn't look very reassured. "There is a rule amongst my kind that we must follow when we are first taught. The rule simply says 'trust me.' If you can find it in yourself to follow that first rule, then you're already halfway to earning that amulet."
Llorne locked herself in deep thought for a moment, then smiled and reached out to pick up one of the pieces. "What is this piece? It looks like a dog, but not."
The girl had long ago regained her breath and seemed to dedicate herself to the task of beating Llorne. Each move was powerful and well thought out, a balance rarely seen outside of clubs and groups. "You're very good."
"You think so?" the girl moved her knight.
"Oh yes." Llorne took a pawn. "Where did you learn, if I may ask?"
"One of my mama's regulars taught me." Bishop across the board. "I think he had a thing for little girls."
"Oh really?" Her king was moved. "I assume that you didn't. . ."
"No no no. Mama would have killed him." Rook two spaces forward. "I guess since he couldn't get his jollies with me, he settled for this."
Rook was countered by an angry pawn. "Well he taught you quite well."
"Yeah, I guess." Rook bulldozes the pawn out of its way. "We almost never finished a game; his time usually ran out before we could. I won a few times when we did though." She wrinkled her nose in thought. "I bet he let me win."
"I doubt that. In fact, I'm sure you earned every victory." Llorne grabbed at the amulet hanging from her neck and caressed it between her fingers as if in thought. She stared at the board for a time, never saying a word.
"You gonna move?"
The girl sighed a kind of reply and scratched her forehead. She turned slightly to watch the rest of the park. The trees barely moved in the still air of mid-spring, with nary a cloud in the sky to indicate any potential danger of rain. Children ran through the grasses followed by parents who walked arm in arm. A woman, not much older than her mother, ran amongst a small crowd of children, most likely not her own, chasing them like a monster of some kind. A more bitter sigh came from her lips as she turned back to Llorne, who still had yet to move. "You know what move you're going to make, so just do it already."
"Oh really? And what might that be?"
The girl rolled her eyes and reached over the board and grabbed Llorne's lone bishop. "Like this." She moved the piece and then grabbed one of her own. "Then I move like this, then you do this, and this. . ." She trailed off as her hands continued to move each piece, playing out a game that should take hours in mere minutes. She piled the pieces on each side until only a few were left. With a final flick, she knocked over her own king. "And that's how you would win." She sat back up with a rather smug smile, then a brief moment of shock at her own actions followed by a more sheepish look. "Sorry, I got a bit carried away."
"That's alright. I've actually been expecting that."
"Yeah. Now it's my turn." Llorne leaned forward, folding her arms underneath her chest. "You're here to ask me to help you find your mother."
The girl backed away in total shock. "Wha. . . how. . . huh?"
"Well, it wasn't too hard. Lots of little things said that was the general idea of what was going on."
"But if you knew, why the chess game? Why didn't you look for me?"
"I wanted to know how much you wanted me to help. That and I haven't played chess with anyone in a while." She chuckled and leaned back again. "And that was a pretty good game, even when you finished it for us."
"Oh." What else could the girl say?
"So, go ahead."
"Ask me. I'm certainly not going to help you unless you ask me."
"Oh, yeah. Okay, um, could you help me find my mother?"
"Sure thing." Llorne stood up and took a deep breath. "I bet you're hungry, want to get some lunch?"
"Yeah!" The girl nearly jumped up, then pulled herself back under control. "Yes, I would like to have some lunch." She corrected. Llorne started walking, leading them both out of the park. "Um," the girl said. "Thank you, um, what's your name anyway?"
"Lcorn is a funny name."
"Where I come from, it would be considered my last name. You can call me Llorne."
"Llorne is a funny name too."
"Is that so? Then what's your name?"
"Deborah. Deborah Ignigus."
"Ignigus is a really funny name."
1. What kind of person is Lcorn Llorne? What does she look like (in your mind)?
2. What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus? What does she look like (in your mind)?
3. Does the setting seem fitting? Would you like to know more?
4. How do you pronounce Ignigus? Get as close as you can.