Jenny: Pieces of a Game

Having no more to say on the matter, Lord Ambrosius turned back to Lord Artos, who sat forward in his chair, brows clenched into dark, shadowed thought, chin on his palm, elbow on his knee. He glanced up, brows flickering quizzically, as his uncle looked at him. "Well, cub," Ambrosius said huskily; "are you ready for this?"

Artos flung himself back in his chair, gripping his thigh with his teeth on edge. "There is a certain sense of poetic justice in the notion that the men beneath our feet will water with their blood the fields they have scorched... Yes, Uncle. I am ready."

"Then tomorrow evening we will bring them out and hear what they have to say. Perhaps one of them will know a thing or two about the knife. Until then, it is the Sabbath. Rest as much as you can." He said it with obvious dry irony, the grey in his eyes flashing pale and blue as steel will do when turned in the light. He moved to his chair and sat down, easing himself a little as though he had an old stiffness which time only compounded, and as Master Lucius watched, the glanced up and caught his eye. "Master Lucius," he murmured in a tone that reminded the Greek vaguely of Gwenhywfar. "Do you play draughts?"

"I do, sir. I am accounted fairly good at the game."

At once the Guttersnipe put her things aside and rose, stepping lightly into the corners of the room to fetch the draughts board. She had to pass and pause by Cathair, and Master Lucius, following her movements with curiosity, saw the swift, low look she gave the Irish bull. He had seen Gwenhywfar give such a look; but Gwenhywfar had height and the trappings of a queen to aid her: he wondered how the Irish bull would take the little fighting cock's reproach. She returned, head high, with the heavy chequered draughts-board made of cherry-wood, well worn and used, and set it on the table between the two of them. She returned to her place, and Ambrosius shifted forward to arrange his pieces. Master Lucius seated himself, laughing wryly to find himself in such a familial position across from the great Hawk, and began to do the same.

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