You are viewing hl_flashfic

 
 
03 October 2009 @ 11:43 am
Knight, Rook, Monk, Priest by idontlikegravy  
Highlander Flashfiction Ficathon

Title: Knight, Rook, Monk, Priest
Author:idontlikegravy
Character: Father Liam Riley
Prompt: chess
Beta: thanks to aeron_lanart for taking the time to look this over.
Warning/Rating: Gen
Author’s Notes: I play chess, but I know next to nothing about gambits and chess terminology. I did my best on the research front, but if those more familiar with the game than I find flaws in the chess related here, then I can only apologise sincerely.
Summary: Father Liam Riley played many games of chess with Brother Darius, and he learned much in the process. Some of what he learned was about chess.

Knight, Rook, Monk, Priest

Both Immortals, once soldiers and now men of God, and both living in Paris, it was almost inevitable that Father Liam and Brother Darius should meet. It was a neat symmetry that both men enjoyed chess, although that was probably because it was an acceptable outlet for their tactical minds to pursue now they shunned the art of war.

*-*

“Something bothering you today, Liam?”

“Hmm? Oh, just… it’s Amanda,” Liam replied as he moved a pawn. Darius chuckled, and Liam wasn’t sure if it was the mention of Amanda or his move that amused the monk.

“She has a real skill for testing the patience of even the saints,” Darius answered Liam’s unspoken question. Liam nodded in agreement. “Take Duncan, for example,” he continued as he moved a knight to guard his queen. “He’s spent the best part of two centuries trying to protect her, put up with her foibles.”

“It’s just that sometimes her… career path…it’s not exactly something a priest can condone,” Liam explained.

“Ah, she’s taken up with the circus again,” Darius replied, but the smile on his face made it clear he knew exactly what career Liam was referring to.

“I generally do little more than gently admonish, after all she’s a lot older than me and unlikely to pay any attention. But, Darius, she wants to go after the Crown Jewels of England!” Liam said as he moved his bishop to take the white knight.

“Hmm, that does seem quite ambitious, even for Amanda. But it is my experience that Amanda knows exactly what she’s doing,” Darius said and moved his queen to take Liam’s bishop. “And she certainly does not need protection. Mate in two, I believe.”

*-*

Liam studied the board intently. His instinct was to take Darius’ queen, but he knew the former commander of the Goth hordes would not leave his queen open unless it was a trap. Liam just couldn’t figure out where the trap would be sprung. He continued to think through possible plays, grateful that they never played against the clock. Then he spotted it; taking the queen would leave one of his rooks open and Darius would have mate in four. With an internal sigh of relief at avoiding the trap, Liam took the safer option and moved his own queen to defend the king.

Darius smiled and it was a warm smile that was almost fatherly.

“Sometimes, one can get too caught up in complicated details and lose sight of the obvious,” Darius said as he moved a bishop. “Check.”

Startled, Liam studied the pieces and realised he’d fallen into a trap that a rookie wouldn’t have missed, but that he had completely overlooked. He quickly assessed the state of play and chuckled at his own stupidity before knocking over his king.

*-*

“I had a young Immortal ask me about the afterlife today. I explained as best I could about the concept of heaven, and what other religions believe, and about Immortal Quickenings, but I had no real answer to give him,” Liam said as he played his opening. What he didn’t add was that in explaining the afterlife to his young friend, Liam had realised that he wasn’t sure what he believed. He believed in God and that humans went to heaven or hell, but what happened to Immortals when they met their final death?

“It is hard that with all our experiences even we do not know what happens after this life,” Darius said with a nod of understanding.

They played in silence for a while, but Liam’s mind was not on the board in front of him.

“I have heard some say that the Quickening is our soul,” Liam said eventually. And if that were true, then did it mean that Immortals did not go to heaven? That their soul was absorbed into the person who took their head?

“I’ve heard that too,” Darius replied before lapsing back into silence.

Liam was certain that Darius understood the meaning he was driving at and he was frustrated at the older Immortal’s answer.

“But you can’t believe everything you’re told, even if the Immortal is very old,” Liam prompted after ten minutes.

“That is true. Age and experience mean nothing with regards to that question.”

Inwardly, Liam grunted with frustration at Darius. Normally, the monk was happy to discuss theology with Liam, and their time together was spent happily talking about many subjects, but he was being frustratingly evasive and Liam couldn’t wait to leave.

He couldn’t understand why Darius didn’t want to discuss this topic. It’s not like Liam was going to try and blow holes in whatever Darius believed; he was unsure himself and merely wanted some kind of guidance in the matter.

Suddenly, Liam was shocked to realise that Darius didn’t know what to believe either. He always seemed so certain in his faith; it could be the only explanation.

An hour later, as Liam stood to leave, Darius paused in resetting the men on the board and sighed. Liam looked at him and Darius looked up, meeting his gaze.

“I like to believe that we are all God’s creatures, Liam. I accept that I am ignorant about the next life, and that scares me a little, but also I am hopeful.”

Darius smiled and Liam smiled back before he turned and left.

*-*

“You have a new partner,” Liam commented, eyeing the chessmen on the board. Darius looked at the board and chuckled.

“Yes. A young American. He’s actually quite good for his age,” Darius replied and began moving the men to their positions for their current game.

“One of us?” Liam enquired.

“Maybe, one day. He’s a friend of Duncan MacLeod.”

“Then he’ll have a good teacher, if it comes to it,” Liam replied as he took his seat. He knew a lot about MacLeod, from Darius and Amanda, and felt like he knew him despite having never met the man. Liam decided he ought to rectify that, MacLeod sounded like a man he’d like to be friends with.

*-*

Liam stood in the tiny and familiar room, staring blankly at the overturned chessboard, not really seeing it at all. He was a picture of calm, but inside he was at war with himself. His faith was on the brink of a precipice, brought there by one simple yet horrendous act.

Someone had murdered Darius.

On Holy Ground.

Only a mortal would do such a thing, and that was what stung Liam deepest of all. There had been no Immortal to take Darius’ Quickening and so everything that he was lived now only in the memories of those who knew him. How could God allow his most faithful of servants to be cut down in such a meaningless way?

Liam did not desire to seek out the monsters that had done this. MacLeod would find the killers and bring justice to them. Liam would pray for their souls, and for Darius, and hope to find solace and guidance back to the light.

As he looked around the room, heart and soul in tatters, he heard an echo of Darius’ voice in his mind, we are still God’s creatures….I am hopeful. Liam smiled wryly, a single tear escaping down his cheek.

He righted the table and the board before he began to replace the men, putting them in the positions from the last game he and Darius were playing. When he was done, he left Darius’ church.
 
 
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Black Rook: Rebeccagrachonok on October 3rd, 2009 01:59 pm (UTC)
Good one. I like stories-in-pictures, they create a mood...
fuzzyenviropony on October 3rd, 2009 04:49 pm (UTC)
Oh, nice. Didn't watch much of The Raven, but I always wondered if Darius and Liam had been friends. Great moment with the trap Darius set on the chessboard. Nice to see a mention of Richie, too. Very cool.
dianedswdiane on October 4th, 2009 08:42 pm (UTC)
Nicely done and nicely written. You did well with Darius.
Kay: d/m -- hl -- snowsilvercobwebs on October 5th, 2009 06:22 pm (UTC)
I don't think I've come across a fic with these two in it before, and they seem like such good characters to put together, too. Nice to see that even Darius didn't have (or ever claimed to have) all the answers. Good stuff. :)
Rhi: bacall facevipersweb on October 13th, 2009 02:48 am (UTC)
Lovely. Like the friendship between Liam and Darius. Also like the way this unfolds.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )