The Game of Pawns Part 1

The Game of Pawns Part 1

A grin was all that Mateo saw as he began to move one of his pieces- taking his hand away in a fit of anxiety.

“What?” He questioned.

His enemy merely sneered.

“Keep playing.”

That was the one rule of the game. Never stop playing.

It was a ritual, based solely on tradition and superstition- a way to save lives.

Or at least, that was what it was meant to be.

To Mateo, this seemed to be nothing less than a massacre on his part.

He came from a land filled with dancing and loud laughter- the second child of the ruling family. He wasn’t even supposed to be here. The firstborn, his sister Valentina, was currently in the middle of a surgery that was to treat wounds she got from the very war he was attempting to end.

‘Keep your cool,’ his mom had told him before the game, ‘don’t let them know your scared.’

But how was he to keep his cool when his lifelong enemy, the reason his nation had been torn apart, was sat across the table from him, smirking at him like he was one easy step away from losing his land.

‘They may have started this war,’ his younger brother Rafael warned him, though he hadn’t even reached double digits at the time, ‘but you have to finish it.’

Mateo was only three when the war began, not even old enough to remember why. He’d been told about it enough to have each facet of the beginning of the end memorized as if it were the only way he was to breathe. His nation’s enemy- his enemy- had come in the dead of night. They’d used their elite team- the ones that could slip right under the noses of the palace guards- and they’d killed Mateo’s father.

Mateo’s mother, a strong yet kind woman, had woken up in the middle of it. She’d managed to take two of them out- a feat in itself- and sound the alarm before she collapsed with grief at the sight of her husband’s bloody body.

At dawn, she was draped in war robes.

His opponent was still glaring at him and whole body tensed. Every move, every calculation, was the difference in the fate of his nation. He took a deep breath- he wasn’t trained for this, he wasn’t meant for this- and placed his piece.

He looked up to gauge his adversary’s reaction- locking eyes with obsidian- and there was a split second of quiet before he got one. And then, she smiled.