Well. That’s two weeks down (compilation of links to Week Two’s scenes is forthcoming).
So far so good.
Today’s scene is sort of next story-adjacent. It will be established in Charge of the Lyte Brigade that Sally Lyte is a chess prodigy, and this scene is related to that idea but not directly connected to Charge in any meaningful way beyond that.
“This is Sally,” Dunstana says, introducing her new friend. “Her brother and sister are adventurers, just like you, Kat! They’re friends with Amara.”
Sally stares up in awe at the towering young woman looming over her.
“Wow,” she mutters. “You’re very tall. And you have pretty eyebrows.”
“What did you just say?” Kat exclaims.
“S-sorry,” Sally says, cowering behind Dunstana.
“No. It’s okay. I’m not mad.” Kat assures the younger girl. “Just surprised, is all. No one has never called my eyebrows pretty before.”
“But they’re so floofy!” Sally insists. “And they look so soft!”
“Let’s, uh, let’s talk about something else,” Kat offers. She can tell the girl means well, but Kat doesn’t like being reminded about her overabundance of superciliar follicles.
She points to the ragged toy bunny in Sally’s hands. “I like your bunny. What’s his name?”
Sally grins broadly as she holds up the bunny for Kat’s approval. “This is Count Bunnyescu,” she says happily. “I’ve had him for as long as I can remember.” She makes the bunny wave at Kat. “Count Bunnyescu says hi.”
“Uh, yeah. Hi,” Kat says.
Thanks to Dunstana’s eight million Princess Moonflowers, she has plenty of experience talking to stuffed toys.
“I’m trying to teach Dunstana how to play chess,” Sally explains.
“And? How’s that going?” Kat asks, a grin creeping across her face.
Sally’s gaze shifts uneasily.
“Slow,” she says diplomatically.
Dunstana throws her hands up in exasperation.
“Okay, but why do the horses only move in L’s? And why do the dudes in funny hats move diagonally? And why do the castles move at all? And besides, there’s no dragons! Everything’s better with dragons.”
“Actually, in some regional variations of chess, there are dragons,” Kat notes.
Once again, Sally stares up in awe at Kat.
“How do you know that?” she asks.
“We’ve got a cousin, named Annie. She’s really smart,” Kat answers. “She told us that once.” She frowns. “I wish I could remember why, though.”
“Does she like chess?” Sally asks.
“I’ll ask her,” Kat says. “She likes all kinds of smart-people stuff. Maybe she’ll want to play a game with you.”
“Yeah! That sounds great!” Sally exclaims happily.
Dunstana begins tugging on Sally’s sleeve. “Come on,” she urges. “Let’s go get a snack. I’m hungry!”
“Mom! Mom!” Dunstana says eagerly as she pulls Sally along after her into the kitchen. “This is my new friend Sally!”
“Hello there, Sally,” Estelle says warmly. “I overheard you just now. You know, I happen to like playing chess myself. Why don’t I get you a snack and we can play a game?”
“White goes first,” Estelle says.
Sally nods and moves one of her knights, jumping it out in front of the rest of her pieces.
“They can jump?” Dunstana exclaims.
Estelle responds by moving one of her pawns two spaces forward.
Dunstana watches the proceedings with growing bemusement. “And they can double-move? This game makes no sense!”
Sally regards Estelle gravely from across the table. “You’re going for the Sibylline Shuffle,” she declares.
Estelle smiles. “Maybe,” she says. “Or maybe that’s exactly what I want you to think, and I’m actually going for the Gallicantu Gambol.”
“Wow. Will you be my Mom?” Sally asks.
I don’t actually know anything about chess, so if you’re in it for the thrilling, high-octane chess action, I’m sorry to say you’re going to be disappointed…
Again, I’ll be posting the collection of links of Week Two’s scenes later, probably a little later tonight. In the meantime, Week One is here.
Also, tomorrow will be the day I start posting chapters of The Bandits of Goldharbour, so be sure to check that out.