Chess: To the Victor Go the Spoils

The demon hissed. He now saw it as plainly as I did.

“Mate in four,” I declared, unnecessarily. The demon’s eyes flashed.

The game was all but over. The demon’s King was situated to be forced through a series of closing moves, each subsequent Check driving it closer to its final, fatal position. There was nothing he could do. I had won.

Even so, the demon looked the board over for several long moments, hoping to spot some flaw in my design. There was none — it was ironclad — and so, finally, the demon looked up at me, nodded once, and slowly, grudgingly, tipped his King. The board disappeared in a whiff of vapor.

Well played, human. Here is your prize.

And then she was standing before me — shaken, trembling, but otherwise unhurt.

Before I could go to her, to comfort her, the demon moved, blindingly fast. He slashed the palm of her hand, deep, and she cried out. Her blood dripped from his nails.

Do not think you are free. She is marked now. You are both marked.

And then he vanished.

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