If you're confused about the chessboard, or the boy, or the study where the prologue is set, you might try reading this story, another short story that will explain it all. If you don't understand exactly how this pertains, don't worry. This is only the prologue. The best is yet to come :)
And as always, if you like my writing, please visit my livejournal page at purplkat, and feel free to critique what you read there :)
The pieces were moving again.
Tristan Common raised his head when a soft, muffled tap -- the silver chesspiece resettling itself in a new position on the polished marble chessboard -- disturbed the mechanical stillness of thick silence broken only by a fanciful clock from the sixteen hundreds that ticked the seconds tirelessly away. The candlelight caught and glimmered in streaks of silver that shot through his single remaining velvet black eye as he craned his head towards the source of this new and disruptive sound.
It took the boy only a moment to recognize which of the pieces had changed its position. He stood gracefully, abandoning the thick book that he'd ben perusing, and stepped closer to the chessboard to get a better look.
One of the white knights, a silver piece that depicted a lanky youth in mismatched armor, with his sword tossed casually over his shoulder, had moved out of the back row, where it has been safe since that awful business in San Fransisco had drawn to a close. Tristan's pale, doll-like face betrayed none of the wash of worry that overtook him; his thin-lipped mouth didn't so much as twitch.
There were more pieces than usual forming a complex dance of threat and protection in the center of the white and black checkered chessboard. The central piece in the conflict seemed to be a bishop, the matte black finish of which gleamed dully by the light of the guttering candles. It was a tall figure, a man clad in torn clothes who stood with his hands bound behind him and a noose slack around his neck, gazing serenely into the distance. Set against the black finish of the piece, its pale, clear, periodot eyes seemed to glow with an inner, almost spiritual luminescence. The bishop was surrounded by and assortment of pawns and back row pieces, both burnished black and gleaming silver, that seemed to be focusing their efforts on its capture and defense, as if they had somehow mistaken it for the King. As Tristan watched, several pawns jostled for position in a quick exchange of moves that removed one of them from the board. It vanished, having being taken.
And now, of course, the lanky, carefree knight had lept into te fray, a fact which, while it bothered Tristan, wasn't the cause of his careful study of the board, or his well-concealed concern. What the fragile boy found troubling was the fact that the knight had managed to occupy, on its first move, a position which would allow it to effectively either take or defend the bishop when next it was allowed to advance, and try as he might, Tristan couldn't determine which it would be.