The White Pawn XVIII
William sat down at the Sisters fountain, twirling the bronze Rook around in his fingers, today was the last day Jordon gave him to offer the proof he needed against Walden's innocence and to reopen the greater case at large. But it had no matter now; all his evidence was lost. The last of captain Gren's men who could provide accountable details about the night of Albert's death, had themselves died; killed in a violent street brawl while hunting down the Baron. The commander was still enraged at them for their part in getting all the guards drunk so they, of course, were put on the more dangerous streets for the hunt.
And Walden's brother, wife, and children disappeared as well, and the butcher shop was long abandoned without a word or clue, the meat that wasn't taken or looted went bad and rotted, stinking up the place. He only knew about this when he got a letter from the bank saying the account was closed, and all the gold was withdrawn.
He went down there immediately to get to the bottom of it, only to find out there was a great paperwork mix up. So when the butcher, Walden's brother, went there pretending to be William they couldn't find the signatures to compare and confirm his identity. Fortunately, for them though they had captain Percil to confirm the butcher was, in fact, William.
That petty sloth had no idea what he had cost William, had he found the pig he would have cut his fat head off, for corruption of justice, in front of everyone. Since Percil wasn't around, he spent his remaining days instead being productive and trying to find Walden's family. But by then they were already gone, according to the neighbors they had packed up and left days before getting the gold.
He couldn't blame them, though, the city was becoming more dangerous every day, and they had targets on their backs by unknown thugs. And with his brother, the wife and kids actually had a chance of making it without the gold, but they had to try anyways.
All he had now was sage Ordon, and there was nothing more he could do to persuade him either, so until they found the Baron his investigations were over. It was too early for him to go to Niels tavern, and he didn't much have the patience to deal with Meradith at home either. All the same, he waited there by the fountain, relaxed and bored, basking in the sun that felt good for once.
He got bored playing around with the Bronze rook, so he set it down to his side. A small resonant chime, resounding over and over soon forced him to open his eyes again. To his right he saw the rook piece had grown ten times his size now, and its shadow overlapped him, almost threatening to consume him in its darkness.
With a gasp of surprise he jumped to his feet and stumbled away from it. Turning back, he saw the shadow from the rook straighten out into a rectangle and then align itself into descending staircase, leading under the giant rook. He peered down there and saw only darkness. But he could hear an echo of footsteps climbing, he stepped back, hand on his sword, waiting.
Ascending the stairs was a tall, broad figure, wearing a white captain’s uniform with coal black hair. Upon his face was a white angular mask with two curved slits about the eyes and a wide grinning slit about the mouth. He stopped at the food of the stairs in silence.
"Who are you?" William demanded, tightening the grip on his sword.
"You're just a puppet dancing on their strings," the Jester mocked. "A piece on the board, to be used and discarded at their whim." He took a step forward and drew his sword. A falchion style blade, that of captains, and advanced ominously.
William drew his blade and charged at him, and their swords clashed, and the Jester pushed him back with raw force. He stumbled a couple of steps back and the Jester advanced more swiftly, with a thrust from his blade.
William managed to parry the blow, so the tip of it grazed his cheek, instead of piercing his face. Back on even footing their blades clashed again. This time, William didn't underestimate him, and when the Jester tried to force him back again, William pulled his weight away and shifted his foot back, turning side face as the Jester instead stumbled forward.
Bringing his sword down, swiftly and heavily as he could, William knocked the blade out of the Jester's hands. Then he pivoted his hips and thrust the blade into the Jester's chest.
He fell to his knees and the mask crumbled into thin pieces falling away. William shuddered at the face behind. Adam Royce, with his Light stubble of beard, tanned skin, and brown eyes stared up at William; full of shock and fear.
"Why?" Adam choked out. "Why did you let them get away, why do my killers roam free, unjudged."
Adam too fell apart, like pieces of glass that blew away to colored dust in the breeze. His tears blurred his vision for a moment, and when he could see clear again, he saw that around him stood gilded chess pieces ten times his own size, while below him the cobblestones were replaced with tiled marble of black and white squares. Dark storm clouds invaded the skies above, and an icy splash of water slammed him on the face.
He awoke with a scream of terror. Gasping for air and looking around him frightfully. The skies were crimson now, the sun setting in the distance. To his side was the bronze rook, he was almost reluctant to take it now, but got up all the same and shook off that crazy dream.
Feeling a sting on his cheek, he rubbed it and saw blood smeared on his finger. He rushed back home to check the mirror for the cut on his cheek. When he got inside and shut the door Meradith called out to him from the kitchen, "William is that you?" she asked.
"Yes," he said heading to the bedroom to use Katrina's mirror. He found there was indeed a small, precise cut on his cheek; he must have done it while asleep.
"Katrina went out to run some errands so she'll be back later." Meradith had to shout to him so he would hear. "The Golden Sage Ordon came to see you earlier. His poor holiness looked so distraught and desperate to speak with you. He said to tell you, 'come to the temple right away.' Do you know what he wanted?"
William cursed himself for being out while Ordon came by, but it couldn't be helped. "I'm going to find out, tell Katrina I'll not be back until later."
He rushed out the door and ran straight to the temple. Making his way in, he went straight to Ordon's office. The doors were cracked partially, and he let himself in. Ordon practically jumped out of his skin when he saw William. Ordon looked haunted, his eyes sunk with dark bags under them. It was like an evil spirit haunted his dreams and shadows on the wall twisted into his deepest fears.
"W-W-William, thank the gods you're here," Ordon said frightfully.
"Your holiness, Ordon, I understand you wanted to see me?" He asked coming into the office. The room was a mess compared to last he saw, books sprawled about on the ground, papers about, even a splotch of ink running down the wall where it looks like an ink bottle was thrown. He put his back to the owl which creeped him out with its black sleighed eyes.
"Yes, of course, I-" Ordon stopped and looked past him. His eyes had gone wide for a moment and then turned into a sort of frightful anger. "You get out of here!" He shouted. "I'm telling him now aren't I, so go!"
William turned around, and there was nothing there but his pet owl. "I'm sorry your holiness but what is this about exactly?"
Ordon looked back to him. "About? You stupid boy everything! You think this is about the Sky Cloaks or your father? But you are wrong boy. It goes so much deeper than that, and they were just pieces on the board. Their deaths were shifting the game in favor to someone else. I sat by and held my tongue because I thought they could keep things together. But it's all falling apart, and I see that now."
"What is? What's falling apart? What's going on!?"
"There's a war coming, and it's all falling into motion, capture the king, win the game."
Ordon started wheezing, painfully. All the excitement was getting to him. William eased him into his chair, and he tried to speak, but William couldn't understand.
"Let me get you some water?"
Ordon shook his head, still wheezing.
"Or, or umm some honeyed wine?"
Ordon nodded his wheezing calming down a little more then. William rushed out of the office and went into the first door down the hall he could find. Save for some furnished tables and chairs the room was empty. He went further down the hall; the next two doors were locked. The fourth one a few white Sages were coming out of, he stopped them, telling them his holiness needed some honeyed wine for his wheezing right away. They all rushed to get it until a shriek of terror erupted from back toward Ordon's office.
Rushing back to the office, William found Ordon on his side clutching his throat tightly with green veins running all over his face. Placed next to his corpse was a golden bishop.
He grabbed the acolyte who screamed after discovering the Golden Sage, firmly gripping the boy's thin shoulders. "Who else was here?" He demanded, shaking the frightened boy. "Who did you see?!"
The boy kept whimpering but pointed down the hall with a shaky hand. William let go of him and ran down the hall. He had to push the acolytes out of the way as he went, seeing a cloaked figure briskly walking away, sliding between the acolytes and sages walking about the halls.
"You there stop!" he shouted, hoping it would startle them. Instead, it alerted them as they ran now.
He picked up his pace, bulling through anyone not quick enough to get out of his way. As he made it to the Equiltarium, he saw the cloaked figure running out of the temple, looking back at him with surprised eyes. He was catching up, fast.
The killer was halfway down the stairs when he got to them. He leaped forward with all his might, tackling the killer; they tumbled down the stairs in a struggle. He landed on the bottom, dazed for a moment while the killer got up and ran North-East, he chased again.
Once more he caught up to the killer, at the foot of Bulwark Street, and tackled him again. The killer struggled but was small and slender, and it was easy for him to turn her around and pull off the hood; revealing a beautiful woman with strawberry-blonde hair, and light brown eyes. He couldn't believe it was her. He was so surprised he hardly felt the bitter sting pierce his neck. And stranger still, his final thoughts were of the beautiful woman, with eyes as blue as the sky. He choked the name out: "Alayne."
END OF PART 1