Bishop_Betrayal, страница 1
Book #4 of the Chess Quest Series
Michael D. Young
© Copyright Michael D. Young 2018
Black Rose Writing | Texas
© 2018 by Michael D. Young
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publishers, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review to be printed in a newspaper, magazine or journal.
The final approval for this literary material is granted by the author.
First digital version
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Print ISBN: 978-1-61296-000-3
PUBLISHED BY BLACK ROSE WRITING
Print edition produced in the United States of America
To my sons, my little knights
Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1: AN OMINOUS MESSAGE
CHAPTER 2: THE DARK DUNGEON
CHAPTER 3: CRUISIN’ FOR A BRUISIN’
CHAPTER 4: A PERPLEXING PUZZLE
CHAPTER 5: SPINNING GEARS
CHAPTER 6: THE DARK SOVEREIGNS
CHAPTER 7: THE PROJECTION CONNECTION
CHAPTER 8: REUNION
CHAPTER 9: FLIGHT OF THE PEGASUS
CHAPTER 10: RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE
CHAPTER 11: THE CARVED TUNNELS
CHAPTER 12: Fog of War
CHAPTER 13: TWO BROTHERS AND A SISTER
CHAPTER 14: DEADLY DOGS
CHAPTER 15: PALE SON, GOLDEN SON
CHAPTER 16: TOTAL ECLIPSE
CHAPTER 17: INSIDE THE BOX
CHAPTER 18: TWO PATHS
CHAPTER 19: THE PALADIN GLADIATORS
CHAPTER 20: A MELEE WITH MALLORY
CHAPTER 21: THE END OF THE MAZE
CHAPTER 22: SHATTERED SANCTUARY
CHAPTER 23: RICH’S QUEEN
CHAPTER 1: AN OMINOUS MESSAGE
Rich could tell from the second the messenger burst into the room that it wasn't going to be good news. The young man's face looked sickly and pale, the veins on the skin standing out like somebody had painted them on the surface.
All the knights at the table rose from their chairs and turned in the messenger’s direction. He coughed hard, clutching his hand to his chest before giving his message. "The Corridor," he began. "It's changing. A large section of it broke off and shattered as I watched, and a new section formed. It’s all..." The man staggered, and a few of the knights steadied him. "...gray."
"Get this man a room and call the healers!" Minerva commanded.
The messenger shook his head. "No, I have more to say. He wanted me to tell you that the rules have changed. They are no longer going to sit by and lean on their swords. They will now take up arms and resist any who oppose them."
Something about the messenger’s words seemed familiar to Rich, but he couldn't quite place why. "Who do you mean by ‘he’?" he asked.
"The Gray Knight," the messenger said. "All the Gigantaurs follow him. It is his fortress now."
The man gasped for breath, his eyes rolling darting back and forth. “He says," whispered the messenger. "He says that the world will not be consumed by light or darkness. Everything will end in … gray."
The man collapsed, and as though he had been a glass sculpture, he broke into millions of pieces.
CHAPTER 2: THE DARK DUNGEON
From the Quest Log of Heinrich W. Witz
I swear my parents are trying to make up for lost time. They weren’t around to teach me how to be a knight, and now they think they need to cram it all in right now. My dad wanted me to try literally a hundred different things right away, but my mom convinced him that baby steps would work better.
So that’s why I’m starting this log. I’m going on a quest, and apparently, my future descendants will want to hear about it. Oh, that’s another thing. I’ve got a ton of reading to do. I’m supposed to study the quest logs of other knights, both Paladin and Nemesis, and learn from them. It might not be bad if I could think like a dark knight now that they have my friends.
While the other knights were trying to stuff things in my head, I was trying to convince them that I could help storm the Nemesis stronghold without getting captured. That worked about as well as a termite burrowing through a steel beam. Instead, we’re off to Finland. That’s right—Finland, to some super-secret cave of training or something. Normally, that would be an incredible way to spend summer vacation. But now, well, I guess I already explained why I’m distracted.
We all got on this big ship and headed into a fjord or something. First, we took a portal from the Sanctuary and ended up in Sweden somewhere, and then took a boat the rest of the way. I’ll write more when we actually get there. Maybe I’ll join Mom and Dad on deck. They’re acting like it’s some kind of pleasure cruise or their honeymoon or something. I know they haven’t seen each other in years, but couldn’t they at least try to act concerned about my captured friends when I was around?
. . . . .
Nadia woke in a dark room, glad to have something to distract her from the song playing over and over in her head. She had been dancing with the tall guy from the football team, and the song was really cool. Then her mind caught up with the present. What was this place, and how did she get here? She remembered swing dancing with Rich and switching partners and then...nothing.
She looked around the room and realized that it wasn’t just dark because there wasn't much light coming in, but that everything in the room was colored black. She lay on a black bed with black sheets and a black blanket. A black-framed mirror hung in the corner, and the walls, ceiling, and floor appeared to be made of black stone.
It was about half the size of her bedroom back home, but it didn't look like a hospital room or any kind of hotel. She flinched as she realized she was wearing different clothes. And they were, of course, all black—a long-sleeved blouse and pants made of some sort of stretchy material. Feeling her skin crawl, she looked around, wondering who had dared to mess with her clothes. Didn’t these people believe in privacy? She made a mental note to give that person a double-decker knuckle sandwich as soon as she found out.
She looked around for a door, but didn't find anything like that. She plopped back down on the bed with a sigh that turned into a shriek of surprise. A girl in black armor stood nearby where there had been no one before.
Nadia found her voice quickly. "Don’t you believe in color around here?" she asked. "I know you're going for menacing and all, but it's kind of boring."
The girl in the armor tossed her head, shaking her long, black hair. "I’m Mallory, though I think we have met before. I am a daughter of Nemes, a dark knight of the order of the rook. And you are our prisoner."
Nadia wrapped her arms around herself and gave a fake shiver. "Once again, ten points for creepiness, but about two for usefulness. None of that makes any sense, except you
“You’re not in the school," Mallory snapped. “You're in the Stronghold, a fortress of unmatched might. Once you are a prisoner here, you will stay a prisoner here." She backed off a little from her hard tone of voice. "That is, unless we can come to some sort of arrangement.”
She removed something from her belt, and Nadia leaned forward see what it was—a long metal rod with a chain dangling from both ends. At the end of each chain hung a chess piece, one white and one black. "I'm going to administer a little test. Don't worry. It's not about what you know, so you don't need to study. And thank the void it's not a spelling test. Can't stand those." Mallory advanced with the strange device, holding it out for Nadia. Nadia held perfectly still, but glanced from side to side, ready to bolt if this thing proved dangerous.
Without Mallory doing anything, the dark pawn suddenly pulled the chain downward as though it were tipping a scale. The process repeated with the white pawn so the two were once again exactly level with each other. Both pieces began to glow at a steady rate before Mallory nodded and replaced them both on her tool belt. "Now that's something I didn’t expect," she said. “And for you, that may be a good thing."
Nadia clenched her fists, feeling ready for much more of an explanation than she'd been given. She stood and squared off against Mallory. "What did that weird-looking thing tell you? That I'm worthy to join the chess club? Because if it did, that’s nice, but I'm not interested."
Mallory laughed as she advanced, placing a hand on Nadia’s shoulder. "Nothing so trivial. This test means we are family."
Nadia couldn’t think of anything to say to that, but she shrugged Mallory’s grip off her shoulder and stepped back.
"You see, the device measures whether you have the lineage of the white knights or the dark knights. Many people show one or the other, and some show neither." Mallory looked Nadia directly in the eyes. "But you, my friend, are an outlier. You have both."
Nadia laughed, shaking her head. "You're just trying to mess with my brain. If I were from a line of knights or something, I’d know."
Mallory clicked her tongue. "Well, probably not. There are many people who have no idea they have any knightly blood, if just a little. In this case, you got some from your father and some from your mother. Seems they've been holding out on you."
Nadia bit her tongue, knowing Mallory was just trying to make her mad. Dad had kept a lot of secrets. He almost never talked about his life in Russia or even very much about why he came to the United States. Mallory could be telling the truth. Then again, she wasn't very high up on the “people you should trust list.” “You know, I have friends who are knights. You know Rich Witz? He’ll get a bunch of his buddies to come crashing through your door. I won't be here long."
Mallory rolled her eyes. "Oh, I’m more than able to handle little Richie. Even if he does bring friends, I have more than a few friends to back me up as well. I admire your courage, but let's not get our hopes up. I gave Rich twenty-four hours to come join our side before I have you tortured and killed. For him, time will pass quickly, but here, time goes very slowly. An entire day here is only an hour in the outside world. He’ll probably drag things out until the last minute, and I’ll have you for the next twenty-four days or so. Oh, the fun we’ll have."
Nadia sat back on the bed, keeping her face hard, trying to stop her hands from trembling. She wasn't completely sure she wasn't dreaming. Everything did feel quite real.
Mallory came and sat next to her on the bed. "Of course, there's no need for any unpleasantness. Because you have both bloodlines in you, you can choose which side to join. Simply fall in with our clan and you will be free, a full member of our order with whom we’ll share everything. I'll even let the others go if you decide to become one of us.”
Nadia’s stomach grumbled uncomfortably. She had a feeling this wasn’t like signing up for the drama club, and she didn't like the thought of being on the opposite side from Rich. Would that mean she would have to fight him? It wasn't a question about who would win. The guy wasn't perfect, but whatever side he was on was bound to be the right side.
"So what’s the cause you want me to join? And while you're answering that, clear up the dress code for me. Does everyone have to wear all black? I mean, most teams have at least two colors. You can still look menacing with a little red or green in there, right?"
Mallory sighed, looking away from Nadia. "It’s not easy to explain in a few words. You can dress however you like, but as for the other question, it’s a matter of order and chaos. Entropy and chaos are the natural order of things, and instead of trying to fight it, we work with it. When a tree is overgrown, a skilled gardener cuts back the wild branches. We seek to harness the power of nature to cut away and burn all that is undesired. Only then will the earth be as beautiful as it was meant to be. Now it’s overrun with all sorts of vermin. Join us, and you can be part of this new world that waits just beyond the horizon." Mallory extended a hand, and Nadia looked down at it with confusion.
"Wow, that does sound nice," she said with a bit of sarcasm. "But I'm gonna have to pass. I’ve read enough history to know that when people start talking about vermin, they mean people who are different from them. I don't want to be part of anything that’s going to let innocent people die."
"How do you know they’re innocent?" Mallory demanded, clenching her fist. "Believe me, if you are not with us, you’re part of the overgrowth. We will prune this world until there’s nothing left standing in our way."
Nadia’s stomach clenched, everything in her rejecting what Mallory was saying. She felt bad enough for bullying other kids at school. She could never take things to this extreme.
Mallory rose and rested her hand on the hilt of the sword that hung around her waist. It too was completely black. “I know it's summertime for you, with school being out and all. So consider this your summer reading program."
Mallory reached into a pouch attached to her belt and withdrew an electronic tablet, which she tossed to Nadia. "With that, you have access to the Nemesis archive. I've marked a few places where you might start. Perhaps you’ll have a more...enlightened opinion once you’ve done your homework.”
Before Nadia could come up with a snarky remark, Mallory vanished. No puff of smoke, no flashing lights. Just gone.
Nadia sat in a daze, staring at the place where Mallory had been. Not much of this made sense, but if she was going to be a prisoner, at least she had reading material. She touched the screen of the tablet and watched it flicker to life, presenting her with a list of recommended reading. She chose the first title, and though it was a tablet, it created an incredibly clear and lifelike image, as though it had become an actual page.
She settled back on the bed, ready to cozy up with a little light reading about dark knights. It turned out to be a history text, but still a bit more interesting than anything Mr. Bickmann had ever made them read.
As the minutes ticked by, she couldn't stop thinking about Rich barging in with the cavalry. She didn't like being the damsel in distress, but this time, she wouldn't complain. Besides, Rich was bound to get into trouble sometime—she would just have to repay the favor.
CHAPTER 3: CRUISIN’ FOR A BRUISIN’
From the Quest Log of Heinrich Wulfrich Witz
Oh, yeah, I’ve got to use my full name. It’s a rule or something.
Turns out our cruise wasn't so boring after all. There wasn't any sign of trouble until we got about halfway down the fjord and everything became really quiet. I’ll admit, I let my imagination run away with me about getting ambushed by Vikings or something. Turns out, Vikings would've been a blessing. A
Those guys meant business. It didn't take two seconds for the boat to catch fire, and that turned both my parents turned from lovey-dovey to Superman and Wonder Woman. Whoa. It's kind of awesome seeing my parents in action. My dad’s a rook, my mom’s a bishop, and both have way more experience than I do.
My dad’s stone skin helped him fight off the fell chariot’s fire, and he castled to my mother side every time she got in trouble. I hadn’t read up much about what bishops can do, but it was cool to see my mom's powers in action. I don't understand how it works yet, but my mother did this crazy thing where she pointed at something broken and just fixed it. If something was on fire, she focused on it and the fire went out and the thing didn’t look like it had been burned in the first place.
It wasn't just that. I saw her point at a part of the river that was going crazy and in the next moment, it was totally calm again. I’ll have to ask about that.
Of course, I joined in too. There was no way they were going to make me to sit back and do nothing. But I did go more on the defense. My parents went on the offensive, and I tried to keep away those who came too close to the boat.
The creatures that our enemies rode freaked me out. None of them seemed to have any one shape, but kind of molded themselves to what they needed to be. They were no match for my mom, though. The coolest thing I saw her do was probably the way she took them down with her bishop powers. All she had to do was get close enough and then all the smoke and fire collapsed together into a tiny spot, and poof! No more bad guy. It made me want to be like her.