About 600 words.
© 2015 Christopher Chinchilla. All rights reserved.
“If you can guess what’s in my pocket, O King,” the girl said, “you can have it.” She grinned. “Well, King, do you dare?”
The King knelt swiftly to meet her eyes. “I can have your head in a swipe if it pleases me,” he said. At his side the Queen kept deathly silent, his threat speaking for both of their majesties. The earthy scent of the girl’s blonde and disheveled hair—the scent of combat—infused truth into her next words.
“You know the battlefield I’ve traversed; you know on what river of risk and strategy I’ve sailed to reach you. And you know,” she whispered, pushing her face into his space, tickling his nose with the vanilla scent of her breath, “what befalls you if I’m taken.”
He slipped his gaze behind the little imp to survey the dark war beyond… Beneath the thundering sky men and horses lie slain; a fortress stood seized on the outskirts; the enemy advanced on all sides across the patchy land. Distant warriors watched for the fate of their girl before the rival King. He could see no escape.
The King looked at the imp. She smiled. “I am a wolf and clothed as a sheep, King,” she warned. “I advance on you with and without—with strategy and without mercy. And I’ll have this war, alive or dead.” She laughed. “What is in my pocket, King?”
He breathed heavily and filled her face with a harrumph. Her face held its glare, devious and daring. He rose to his full height, his eyes yet on hers, but his mind wandered… The war did not go well. He knew it as inescapably as he knew every corner of his throne. And here stood this imp of an enemy before him, enjoying his fall, mocking his threat, caring naught but for the riddle in her pocket.
“What worry should I give to what’s in your pocket?” he demanded.
“What’s in my pocket is what I’m going to do next. What I’m going to do next will be your doom. If you can guess it, I will choose another path and spare you a bit longer…maybe in time for you to save yourself and your ailing army.” The girl’s eyes gleamed. The Queen clenched the King’s arm. The night grew late.
The King gritted his teeth and his cheeks burned. “Am I to have a hint?” he bellowed.
“Look at the whole field,” she said, winking.
His eyes returned to the battle. Another fortress fell. The front lines were now broken. His most agile knight lie dead. His clergy had been captured. What hope in Heaven remained?
Her gentle voice drifted up to him on the dismal air. “I shall unleash it soon, King.”
Trembling, shaking, he looked at her pocket.
“King?” she sang sweetly to his shivering eyes. “King, can you guess?”
He sputtered his guess madly. “You will—!” he trembled, “You will—!” he cried, “You will—kill my Queen!”
“YES!” In a flash the imp somersaulted to his right, brandishing a sleek silver dagger from her pocket, and sliced his dark Queen down dead.
“You said you would not!” he cried.
“IT IS WAR!” she shouted, laughed wildly, then said softly, “Pawn takes Queen. I am Queen now. Check and mate, Daddy.” She kissed her father’s nose, jumped from the board and the battle on her mother’s kitchen table, and skirted off to bed, giggling gloriously.
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