The Unfinished Game
The Unfinished Game5 mins 1.7K 5 mins 1.7K
It had been a couple of months since his best friend died. Prince Aslan stared at his chessboard. The night before Rowan had led the battle against a neighboring kingdom, they had played chess late into the night. It was a little tradition between them. If one of them was going somewhere, they would play a chess game or at least start one and then leave it unfinished as a promise to return. This was the promise Rowan made Aslan late at night. The promise he had broken forever.
Alsan jerked to his feet and went to throw the board against a wall but he froze. He couldn’t. He couldn’t destroy one of the last remnants of his friend. Instead, he angrily strode to the closet and grabbed a tunic for the day.
Aslan could always find his way to the throne room. He just had to follow the trail of drunken courtiers. Since his mother had died, his father found a reason to get wasted nearly every night. Even during court, he was rarely seen without a wine glass in hand. This time he entered to army officials lined up along the sides. His father’s glass was mysteriously absent. In the center of the huge room lay a covered coffin. And so, in front of the whole court and army, the Prince broke down into tears. His father let him for once. The entire castle was aware of his close friendship with the Captain.
They ran into each other in one of the many secret hallways in the castle. They immediately clicked and had been inseparable ever since. They snuck into the kitchens late at night and convinced the cook to make them deserts. They trained and studied together. He was assigned as the Prince’s personal guard instead of the King’s. Anyone could see who the Captain would be more useful to. They had gotten each other out of countless situations. The Prince had even joined the Captain on the battlefield at times. However, this time, he didn’t even get to say a proper goodbye. The last thing the Captain had said to him was, “Don’t worry, I’ll be back, I have to finish the game, don’t I?”
The Prince wiped his tears away after a few minutes. He swirled to the Lieutenant and screamed, “If you hadn’t made him Commander of the Armies then he would still be with me! He wouldn’t have ever left my side! Your silly fear of death brought that very thing upon my best friend! Don’t even try to deny it, Lieutenant! Remember, I was there when they offered you the position. Fear flashed in your eyes as you so “gallantly” offered it to Rowan. You never feared failure. You simply always feared death and so I grant the position to you, Lieutenant. You are the new Commander of the Armies. Go! Win us this war if you are as good as you claim!”
Then Alsan turned to his father and said, “I am going to be the next king and the first thing I am going to do is slaughter the king of that wretched hell-hole. They say he leads his own battles. Well so will I then. The Lieutenant will be my first sacrifice if he survives that long of course.”
Aslan pivoted and marched out tears streaming down his face again. A deadly hush fell behind him. Everyone could see that the Prince was grieving but also that his promises were not empty at all. He truly was going to avenge the Captain’s death. He may not kill a King but the Lieutenant would pay for his cowardice with his life.
As he tore through the halls, servants and soldiers all jumped out of his way. No lady made flirtatious gestures and their escorts lowered their eyes. Aslan's eyes were filled with pain and anger. He reached his room and threw himself onto the coverlets, trying desperately to ignore the void inside him. Rowan was a rock. He kept the Prince calm during political meetings and helped him vent in the privacy of his rooms. As he looked around the room, Aslan noticed Rowan’s jacket slung over the bedpost. He grabbed it and fell back tears trickling down his face unnoticed. Eventually, he cried himself to sleep.
When he awoke, chocolate cake and some apple juice had been left on the table outside. Their food. The food they asked the cook for every time they snuck down to the kitchens. As he halfheartedly cut off a piece, he noticed a slip of paper sticking out under the chessboard. It said:
If you’re reading this then I guess I didn’t return to tuck it back under. You know I’m not good with words. But remember, I love you and maybe I’m dead but don’t listen to me or reach for me anymore. Instead, feel for me. Physically I may not be there but use my spirit to keep you calm and steady. Remember all the plans we had? Make those come true. Be the best king this kingdom has ever had the pleasure of having. Make sure that you keep our legacy alive. Goodbye.
Aslan smiled sadly, pulled the chocolate cake close and began to eat. As his eyes fell upon the board again, he got up and used Rowan’s king to knock down all the remaining pieces. His golden king was the only one left standing. The game was over for good.