Yep, I did it again, I took up the Flash Fiction Challenge thrown out by Chuck Wendig last week. He sent us to a random-sentence generator and challenged us to use one of the random sentences to create a story. I think technically we were supposed to use the sentence in the story, but I didn’t do that. However, I did find a sentence that inspired an entire piece.
“Can the damaged Queen pace?”
This one caught my imagination, and inspired me to try a little experiment. If nothing else, writing this has been an exercise in “Subtle.” I’m still not sure I’m there yet, but practice is always good.
The Black Queen limped across the checkerboard battlefield, her footsteps smeared in blood. She walked slowly to her new place, head bowed over her battle-axe and shoulders slumped. With an effort, she straightened and kept a wary eye as the battle raged across the board. Watching for lulls she might take advantage of, directing her children in the protection of their most important asset.
Weariness caused her attention to waiver for a moment, and with a scream of triumph, her nemesis swooped into the breach. The White Queen rushed across the battlefield, sword raised high in a clear threat against the King. He swore and scrambled back out of the way of her swinging blade. Black shrieked in anguish, constrained from rushing to her lord’s aid.
“No! Please,” She pleaded. “Spare him! Take me instead!”
Her voice was harsh with raw emotion, but her dark eyes were watchful, waiting her opportunity, whatever it might be.
White crowed, ignoring Black as she moved sideways, intent on her prey.
Black swung grimly into action, charging the unprotected back of her foe. Her ebony ax crashed down on the ivory sword, sending it flying away into the chaos of the battle. Black pressed her advantage, pushing White into the waiting arms of the king. He deftly wound a garrote about the neck of the struggling queen. At an imperious gesture from his dark Queen he stopped, not yet tightening the slim line fully about her pale neck. White snarled and swore when Black gave a sharp order to a nearby pawn.
“Bind her arms and legs.”
“You fool, you’re supposed to kill me!” shrieked White.
Black regarded her pityingly. “I offer you a chance. An amnesty. A courtesy you never gave me. Will you reject it, as you rejected my pleas?”
The remaining White pawns paused in frozen horror, waiting for their Queen’s answer. She remained silent, pale eyes darting frantically about, seeking some out. Finding none, she returned her gaze to the face of Black.
“State your terms,” she whispered.
Black smiled in triumph. “You and your King will become my prisoners. Your kin will depart the field peacefully, and I will let you all live.”
White glanced once more about, then slumped her shoulders in defeat and nodded. “Alright. I concede. Spare my children, please.”
The White King roared in outrage, but Black swooped in and disarmed him neatly, her victory complete.
The two prisoners lay trussed up at the edge of the bloody field as the remnants of the Black army watched their defeated opponents depart the board. The Black Queen stood over them, battle-axe held loosely in one ebony-mailed fist. She looked down, a strange expression crossing her face, and addressed her opponent.
“We fight this eternal War, the one or mothers fought, and our grandmothers. We train our daughters to fight it too. But what has it ever gained us?”
The White Queen shook her head. “It is just the way it is. We must battle. You have won this round, but one of my daughters will attack you soon and free us. There is no choice. That’s just the way it is.”
Black crouched with a grimace as her injured leg protested, and murmured for White’s ears only, “But what if it wasn’t? What if we had a choice? Would you still fight me?”
“Yes! I must protect my King. Nothing else matters.”
“And yet…what has that ever gained us? We fight their battles, protect their persons, and train our daughters to do the same, but what has it ever really gained us? You and I, we are not so different you know. We each wield enormous power, and yet we don’t use it to our best advantage. We should be allies, not opponents.”
An angry retort died on her lips, and White’s pale face grew introspective. “Allies…against whom?”
Black smiled a small smile, her eyes intent on the other woman. “Battling each other for some Kingly agenda only serves to weaken us. Together, you and I and all our sisters and daughters, we could push back against those who would use our strength for their own ends while keeping us weakened. Even when they’re our own Lords.”
Dark eyes met light, and two pairs of lips formed the word in unison.