A Different Kind of Game
Also by dan4884
It was an ordinary chessboard; black and white squares
arranged perfectly, pieces poised for their duty. The pieces were assorted shapes;
this one was tall, those were fat. One side consisted of pearly white ivory
pieces; the other had a dark, shadowy black populating its ranks.
The room where it stood was dark. Aside from
the chessboard, the whole area was blanketed in darkness. A single beam of light
shone through the skylight in the ceiling, leaving an eerie effect on the chessboard.
Two figures emerged from the shadows, each taking
a side of the board. They faced each other, mock concentration on their face.
"Jerdana," the Lupe said. "Play fair now."
"Of course, your Majesty," she replied, with
a slight bow of the head.
"We're clear, then?" he asked in reply. "This
is simply a game for enjoyment. No stakes here."
She nodded, and lifted one of her milky white
pieces, placing it forward.
The game had begun.
Somewhere on a sunny farm in Altador, a young
white Ixi lay on a pile of hay, his straw hat down over his face. Before him
was a vast field of corn and wheat, and beyond that was a grove of fruit trees.
Apparently, he had finished his day's work and was now taking an afternoon nap.
But an eerie prickly feeling in his spine roused
him from his sleep, as though telling him something. Glancing around the farm
after pushing up his hat, he saw a shadow weave through the trees.
The Ixi jumped to his feet and dashed through
the corn, taking care not to step on any seedlings. Eventually he was at the
grove, searching for the stranger. A flash of black amidst the brown and green
captured his attention.
Without wasting another second, he grabbed the
stranger by the collar, and as his captive tried to escape, the two stumbled
onto the grass, struggling and rolling about.
A tall red Skeith in light blue overalls was
standing above them. The white Ixi managed to pin the stranger onto the ground
and looked up at him.
"Melvin, this guy was sneaking 'round the fruit
trees when I woke up..."
The Skeith called Melvin nodded and glanced down
at the stranger in black. In one swift motion, he whipped off the mask and shoved
the hood away, revealing the face of a glaring blue Aisha. A small pouch of
something fell out of his pocket, and Melvin snatched it up.
"Dennis, don't you know who this is? This is
the Weed Warlord! He's been wanted for secretly planting destructive weeds in
farms all around Altador, just so he could conquer the Altadorian agriculture
sphere with his own farm! And you just caught him!"
"I did?" Dennis the Ixi scratched his head. "Funny,
the weirdest thing is, I saw him right after I woke up. It's as if something
pushed me to..."
"What you deserve is a reward," said Melvin.
"I've always wanted a partner in business, how's about a promotion, after we
turn in this despicable fiend!"
The war was raging on the monochromatic battlefield.
Elaborate plans were set into motion and quickly defeated time after time. Sacrifices
were made and pieces were compromised. All the while, Altador and Jerdana were
chatting calmly about the beautiful city they reigned over, a slightly competitive
glint in their eyes.
"So, how goes construction on the city walls?"
the King asked.
"Wonderfully," the Aisha replied, sliding an
ivory piece forward. "Check," she said.
Altador studied the board, silently cursing himself.
He had missed that.
A small, yellow Acara named Maria tiptoed through
the newly established Altadorian Archives. She was trying to get into the office
of the archivist, a young Lenny named Finneus. However, it was easier said than
done. Finneus seemed to stay in his office all day and all night.
"Gee, doesn't this guy take a break?" she muttered,
after waiting for three and a half hours. She sighed and continued to watch
as Finneus sifted through the piles of papers cluttering the cramped room.
A few minutes later, however, luck swung towards
Maria's way. Finneus strolled out of his office and into the room across the
hall, the archives. He fumbled with his many keys and unlocked the door after
a few seconds searching. Maria caught a glimpse of the rows and rows of bookcases,
a rare sight. Finneus kept his archives under a tight leash.
After she was sure the door to the archives had
shut, she dashed across the hall and entered the office. She had about five
minutes, she guessed, before Finneus would return, and she needed to find the
treasure. It was extremely important.
She looked under, over, and next to everything
in the office, but to no avail. It seemed the treasure wasn't located here.
"Drat," she said under her breath.
"Drat indeed," a stern voice said from behind
"Not so fast, Jerdana," said Altador with a smirk,
moving one of his pieces a space back. "You haven't won yet."
"You haven't seen anything yet, my dear compatriot,"
said the Aisha airily, reaching out for a pawn.
The Lupe chortled. "Don't make me laugh. Aha,
check. I'd like to see you get out of that now."
The young Kyrii peeked over the table of the
Magical Marvels shopkeeper, watching the yellow Chia stir and filter a bubbling,
shimmering potion into several small glass vials, her eager eyes watching his
"Can I help?" she asked. "I want to learn!"
"Not till you're older," chastised the Chia shopkeeper,
capping each bottle and placing them on a rectangular tray. He stood up, took
the tray, and walked over to one of the shelves of his shop. The orange Kyrii
followed, watching him eagerly.
"Be careful," he warned her. "You might break
"I'll be careful," said the Kyrii earnestly.
After emptying his tray, the Chia went back to
his table, where a customer was waiting with an armful of items, leaving the
orange Kyrii among the shelves, admiring the pretty swirling liquid in the bottles.
She was so entranced by the effervescence that for a moment, she stood there
in one place and watched, only to snap out of it when she heard a noise.
It just turned out to be the customer slamming
a huge bag of Neopoints before the shopkeeper after leaving with his new robe.
The yellow Chia dropped down onto his knees after snatching up his money and
fumbled for the safe just underneath his table. But when he was about to stand
up, he hit his head on the table, upsetting a small covered jar on top of it.
The Kyrii instantly ran forward, throwing out
her paws and catching the jar before it fell to the floor. The Magical Marvels
shopkeeper finally got to his feet, rubbing his head and seeing the orange Kyrii
clutching the jar.
"My child," he whispered hoarsely, his paws trembling
slightly, "if you hadn't caught that extremely explosive, corrosive potion in
time, we would have been blasted to smithereens if it crashed!"
The game was down to its last moves. Both Jerdana
and Altador were mentally spent. Only a few pieces remained on either side;
Jerdana only had four pieces left. The game was nearing an end.
"Your turn," Jerdana told the King.
"I know," he replied, a hint of frustration in
his voice. The two fell silent until the Lupe slid a bishop forward. "Check,"
he said. The Aisha leaned forward and examined the situation. There were a few
defense options left. She smiled. She lifted a rook and took the bishop. "Check,"
she said in return.
The Hall of Heroes was silent, the circle of
statues engaged in a never-ending staring game. After the constellation chaos
a few months ago, things had settled down in the Hall; rarely anyone visited
anymore. Even the Janitor had secured a new job in the Archives.
Yet while the sun set outside, a small red Xweetok
with clumps of unkempt fur stumbled in, frantically looking for a place to hide.
She decided on King Altador's statue, and hurried across the hall, her footsteps
She just slipped behind the statue when more
footsteps entered the building. A Gelert looked around the room and made his
way to the stairs leading to the observatory. Worried, the Xweetok quietly followed
At the top of the stairs, the small girl found
the shady looking Gelert searching the room.
"Where are you?" she heard him mutter. "I know
you're in here; there's nowhere else to go."
The Xweetok worriedly searched the room. Spotting
a pile of Astronomy Clubs leftover from the hubbub a few months back, she began
to form a plan. She just hoped she could pull it off.
She darted to the clubs silently while the Gelert
was looking for her underneath a table. Grabbing one, she cautiously stepped
towards her pursuer. She lifted the club over her head and brought it down quickly
with a clunk. The Gelert fell to the floor, unconscious.
The Xweetok dropped the club and ran. That should
give her enough time to escape Altador to freedom.
"No!" growled Jerdana, pounding the table so
that some of the pieces on the board shook. "I SO didn't see that move!"
"I can't help but be better than you, my dearest
Jerdana," said King Altador lazily, tapping the pawn that had won him the game."
The Aisha crossed her arms and glared at him.
"I demand a rematch!"
"Maybe some other time," said Altador, standing
up from his chair. "I still have a few matters to discuss with Siyana today,
and I don't want to keep her waiting just because of our little board game.
Let's just leave the board here, since you're so keen on losing again."
Jerdana sighed. "I look forward to deflating
your ego." She began rearranging the pieces on her side, while the Lupe did
the same with his. Then they shuffled out of the room, still arguing about Altador's
ego and Jerdana being a sore loser. As they left, a janitor walked inside with
a mop and bucket.
"Nice set," remarked the Yurble as he passed
by the board and began mopping up the floor. He chuckled to himself, prodding
a Xweetok-shaped piece and nearly knocking a small Ixi figurine to the floor.
With a grin, he picked up another figurine, this one in the form of a Kyrii,
admiring its details. "But they don't seem to be magical... oh, well." The Yurble
went back to his work, still fascinated with the Neopet and faerie figures on
AUTHORS' NOTES: This story was inspired by a card from the Altador expansion
pack of the Neopets TCG entitled, "Divine Intervention".