The Cost VII

A chessboard. A battlefield. Another time.

Think it through, boy. Think about all the moves, the avenues of attack, the consequences. What are your options? What tools do you have?

“Oh…oh my. You’re actually considering it.” Fairchild chortled. ” I can see it in your eyes. Just as was foretold – but I must admit I’m actually shocked. That it could be so simple to sway you.”

No, Jonas. No! You’re not thinking far enough ahead – don’t just think about this move, think about the fifth move from now. Take your damn hand off that piece, boy — and think!

“Thousands of corpses litter the city around us, but one mewling child has worth to you? Amazing.” the creature said.

Is that really the move you want to make, squire? Are you certain? Bone-certain?

“Every  life has worth.” Jonas said. ” And dead, I’m no good to anyone.”

The squire gave up trying to push his sword tip towards his enemy. Instead, he pulled the sword back to his side. Fairchild seemed to allow this movement, his face that was not rapt with curiosity. Jonas set the point of the blade in front of him, and closed his hands around the hilt and crossguard. He leaned on the sword for a moment, feeling the good steel beneath his fingertips.

“For the child’s life, I will give you my sword. ”

Are you certain? Bone-certain?

“Well, about that…” Fairchild smirked. “One day she must die, ever leaf and stem of the tree must be cut. Every drop of blood spilled on the dry sand.”

“Then promise me — only I can do it. When I’ve hunted down every single one of the others, she will die by my hand. By my hand, or by none. And then I’ll be the last blood of Gilead, and you can do what you wish with me.” the squire said.

The words came out of his mouth steadily, with no emotion. Jonas heard the words, but couldn’t remember thinking them. It was quick thinking, logical and clean — not the way his mind usually worked.

“Your blood won’t be an issue, my friend. Entering my service is going to change you a great deal.” Fairchild  laid the child down on the empty throne, and came slowly down the steps. “For the better, of course. A marked improvement upon your current state. I accept your terms. Are we agreed.?”

Fairchild kneeled, the illusion dropping away.  Green and gaunt, he spread his hands on either side of the squire’s blade — fingers splayed wide, palms up.

Is that really the move you want to make, squire?

Jonas took his hand off the piece, and the sword tumbled forward into Fairchild’s waiting hands.

“We are.” he said.

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