For those into legends, have fun finding all the symbolism in this fiction based on legends.
Firdavis Xireaili 10D
The sky split as the heavens roared, lightning crashed down upon the earth as the gentle ran accompanied it. The rain gathered upon the summit flowed down through the crevices and into the river whilst the divine rods of lightning set lone trees ablaze. In the middle of all the chaos stood a small hut, by no means large nor elegant, just an ordinary, mud brick hut covered by a straw roof no larger than a few square meters.
A table and two bumps on either side occupied the interior of the room. Two men sat on either side, both focusing their attention on the small board placed upon the wooden table. A torch dimly lit the room, just enough to allow both men to visualize the board.
One man was larger than the other, blonde hair with a beard and all covered from head to shoulder with a decorated set of iron armor which lustrously shone even under the foul sky. A long-sword laid on his thighs with its scabbard missing. Not a dent nor chip was present on the blade, making it seem as it if was newly forged, but the two knew all too well that it had shed more blood than any other blade.
The other man was slightly shorter and younger, donning a blood red cape and tunic with his helmet resting at his side, no weapon present on his figure. In one hand he held a small piece of carved wood with a round white head, playing with it as he concentrated on the board.
“Quite the predicament you’re in Arthur, perhaps your days are coming to an end.” He chuckled to himself with a smirk as he placed the wooden piece down onto the board with a thud.
“Check.” He called with confidence.
The man called Arthur gave no response as he moved the largest black piece on the board forward, surprising the other man.
“Really? The king? There was plenty to sacrifice there, was there not? Why choose the weak?” He let out a mocking laugh.
“Perhaps weak, but also the strongest.” Arthur let out with no change to his expression.
“Old age really is getting to you,” He ridiculed as he moved another piece forward without hesitation, “it is time you give up.”
Arthur only smiled.
“Mordred, what is hope?” He asked.
“Hope, you say? Hope is only for those too weak to achieve their goals themselves. They delude themselves into thinking that possibilities still exist whilst there are none. Wishful thinking will only ever be wishful thinking.” He answered after some thought.
The smile on Arthur’s face didn’t budge whilst he looked Mordred in the eyes, “Wrong.” He said with a sigh.
“Hmm? Then what do you say, oh former king?”
“Hope itself is a power, a power that drives us humans to achieve what we thought we could not, it gives us power to be who we want to be. Hope is for those with a vision, as those without goals cannot Hope for anything. If one has the courage to hope for something, then they possess the power and potential to claim it. Hope also comes with responsibility, as greater the fire, the greater the destruction if not controlled. If the torch of courage was to be extinguished, then the lamp of Hope would no longer burn.”
Mordred squinted his eyes and glared at Arthur, “What are you getting at?”.
“Hope is no delusion Mordred, it gives us strength you cannot even imagine.” Arthur moved his knight further onto the board before continuing, “The pawn, the weakest piece on the board, has the potential to become a menace rivaling the queen, do you know why that is, Mordred? It is because of Hope. Men fight whilst knowing its kill or be killed in this broken world because they believe that they will achieve glory and honor, to survive- they hope for these things, and with it they find strength within themselves to turn the delusions into reality. It is hope that drives this world forward, Mordred.”
“And what does this mean for me, Arthur?” Mordred asked.
The smile plastered on Arthur’s face slowly turned into a grin.
“No matter the situation one is in, there is always a way to turn it around… through hope.” He moved his king forward again whilst speaking.
Mordred gritted his teeth in impatience as he couldn’t understand what Arthur was attempting to do. The state of the board was completely in his favour, with him retaining most of his pieces whilst Arthur only had a single knight, a bishop, a queen and his king left. In fact, Arthur’s king was only getting closer to his own king.
The game known as chaturanga (note this is the original version/name of chess) was only introduced in the region a few years ago, and few knew how to truly play. Even Mordred himself didn’t know what Arthur had up his sleeves. He decided to end it as fast as he could and moved his bishop to pressure Arthur’s few remaining pieces.
Arthur broke the silence once again after moving his King piece another block further.
“Do you know why the pawn can only become a queen, yet not a king? It is because no matter what they do, they will not break the shackles of a servant as long as they follow the rules, the norm.”
“What are you getting at?”
“Doesn’t it sound like you?”
Mordred was left speechless by the claim. His mouth agape but no words came out. As much as he wished to deny it, he couldn’t. Seeing this, Arthur continued.
“An unimportant pawn, slowly making his way up the hierarchy through effort… and the power of hope. By taking all opportunities presented to you, you have taken the throne and the seat of the king, but what now?”
Mordred didn’t utter a word.
“You have gained the most powerful, yet weak position. You have become the sole ruler who your servants look up to, yet you are now the most vulnerable. If you fall, so will everything you’ve achieved, do you understand?”.
“It doesn’t matter, the throne is mine and you only have a few feeble men at your disposal, you have lost Arthur.” Mordred moved his queen for the first time up the board and ‘ate’ the bishop. Almost immediately, Arthur moved his King forward again, leaving only a single space between the two kings.
“No matter how bleak the situation may look, I will continue. The position of King not only holds all the power, but also all the hope from his servants and those who believe in him. It is our duty to bear it, and never let the flames die. Those who ignore this will never be the king he wishes to be.”
Mordred moved to take down the final knight Arthur possessed, leaving only the unmoved queen piece and king with Arthur.
In fact, there was no feasible way for Arthur to turn the match around, but the light in his eyes did not die, but instead burned brighter as if conveying a message.
“Do you remember when I said that hope can make anything possible? For that, I will not abandon the hope of those who believe in, and I will carry both the strength and burden of their hope with me until my very last breath!”
With this, Arthur moved his king forward once more.
Now, the two kings stared at each other, both in position to ‘eat’ each other, and both vulnerable, but Mordred did not make the move – no, he couldn’t, he was in too much of a shock to make a move.
“No… are you suicidal? You have just signed your own death sentence, what was the point? I can simply take your king and it would be my win, did you forget what you just said!?” Mordred exclaimed.
Arthur let out a dry laugh, “My fate doesn’t lie beneath the board, and only I will determine it.” His gaze sharpened as if it were meant to pierce through Mordred. “I am the master of my fate.”
Arthur held the sword on his lap with his right hand and silently stood up, heading for the exit, surprising Mordred.
“Let us continue this match another time.” He said with his gaze still on Mordred.
“Where?” Mordred asked even whilst knowing the answer.
“Camlann… Yes, let us conclude this then.”
Mordred silently closed his eyes and looked out the window to the chaos. Only when Arthur reached for the door did he talk again.
“Arthur, why did you move your king in the end and not your queen, and also, what is hope without courage?”
Arthur pondered for a second before answering with a smile.
“How can a King expect his subordinates to follow if he does not lead? And to answer your second question…” He opened the wooden door only to be greeted by a lightning strike which landed a few dozen meters away.
“Without courage, there is no hope.”
He closed the door behind him as he left.