Trading Pieces

By: EM Malachi

Several Hundred Years Ago…

As Mondain’s gaunt fingers closed the clasp, the dark gem in the necklace felt cold against Minax’s throat. It seemed to draw all of the room’s shadows toward it. The wizard never showed sentiment, and Minax had learned that each rare gift held a purpose. She turned to face her mentor and lover, “What do you require of me?”

Mondain unrolled a map of the known world, “You will go to the city of Britain. When Britannia’s king retreats to his capital, you will kill him with the power of this stone. Upon his death, the other opposition will also die.”

“What of the rumors that the Stranger has found a way to Shadowguard?”

Mondain looked insulted. “Britannia’s hero is a mere mortal and no threat to any of my plans. Do as you’re told.”


Several months ago…

King Blackthorn examined the chess board carefully. His queen had just fallen, and the few remaining pieces were locked in a standoff in the corner. The remaining moves would result in losses for both sides, but it was clear that white would eventually lose, if he made no mistakes. Blackthorn moved the black rook and recorded his move on a small scroll. He returned to scrutinizing the board.

A voice broke his concentration, “The gargoyle princess is taking to chess very well.”

Blackthorn nodded as he turned to face the Time Lord. “Yes, Seer, she will make an excellent ruler someday, but I doubt that is why you are here. When last you spoke to a king in Britain, you asked him to mend the Shattering. I assume something equally important brings you to my study?”

“Yes, Minax. The Enchantress is manipulating a dangerous and unstable magic because she wishes to change the past. I need the help of the people of Britannia, on this shard and all others, to stop her.”

“That explains the omens, and I suspected that Anon’s betrayal would have additional consequences. While we have disagreed before, you must have known that I would not hinder your efforts to get help from my subjects. So again I ask: why you are here?”

“My strategy requires a variety of pieces and moves.”

Blackthorn glanced down at the chessboard, “What piece would you have me play?”

“A King in Check”



The Recall spell deposited Mariah, Mage of Moonglow, beside a small stone house in the Holy City. She waited a moment to collect her wits before stepping inside. A wrinkled gargoyle nodded to her from a stone bench. His wings were curled and frail, and the tips of his horns had a strange sheen to them. He was the oldest gargoyle she had ever met. “I had the dream too, Mariah. I am called Naxatilor.”

Mariah bowed her head slightly at the legendary gargoyle seer. “The Time Lord was vague in what he needed from us, and I have many questions.”

“I will answer some of them in the short time we have. My Queen has joined your King Blackthorn in an effort to stall Minax, but you must move quickly to complete your task.”

“And what is my task?”

“Hawkwind needs an ancient spell, lost and forgotten on all the shards. You will guide those who find it.”

“Any suggestions on where to start looking?”

“I am to give you this. This artifact is older than the Holy City, entrusted to the gargoyles long ago.” He unwrapped the object beside him to reveal a small black cube that seemed to flicker in and out of being.

“The Vortex Cube! But it was destroyed years ago by that fool Kronos and his Blackrock Detector! How is it possible?”

“Some things are both part of the world and separate from it. As such, they may cast more than one shadow.”

Mariah considered this for a moment, “How does this relate to my task?”

“The Heroes of Britannia will need this to reach the Codex. You will need to teach them how to do so.”

Hawkwind’s endgame had started.




































































「これはボルテックス・キューブ! あの愚か者のクロノスとあいつが作ったブラックロック発見装置のせいで何年も前に失われてしまったはず! なぜこんなことが?」