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Author Topic: Rabanu'azgh  (Read 2261 times)

Eskr

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Rabanu'azgh
« on: April 11, 2015, 02:38:00 PM »
((OOC: Rabanu’azgh = table of war in Khûzdul. Can’t just call weird Dwarf tafl chess chess, now can we. Also, a vague rules note; we can handwave – please say we can handwave – but Féren’s general objective is to get the king to the edge of the board safely. Eskr’s is to surround/kill the king. What a wonderful start this friendship is off to. Hope this works!))

 Knights and footsoldiers of polished stone stood stationary, blank notched eyes staring intently ahead. At the centre of the board stood the king, besieged on all sides, crown carved of the same piece yet heavy with importance. A perfectly weighted die spun on the cloth, tumbling corner over corner, pale stone and inset dabs of darkness whirling dizzily before landing with four dots facing upwards.

 Eskr's lips tilted in the barest hint of a smile. Fingers marked with sharp-edged shadows of ink unfurled, clasping a soldier's squared helmet to advance it. The base clicked against another, knocking it over decisively, and then landed soft and sure as a thief's footsteps on the captured square. “Your move.” Grey eyes travelled from the board to the opponent, steady on scarred cheeks and hard eyes. A lot had changed since the last time he had played against Féren.

 The general's sturdy form had more marks of torture now than the artist had tattoos. They had picked him up from a group of Easterlings in a wary trade that wouldn't have been considered had there not been an important military figure in the balance. Eskr had taken more than a moment to recognise his old friend, beardless and harrowed, eyes echoing a terrible emptiness. His absences were so long that he was accustomed to missing things, but never something like this before.

 There were only so many bandages they could apply, only so much food that they could put in front of Féren, only so many ways the merchants could ask for elaboration that wasn't given. He had been captured, his son had been killed. End of. There was nothing they could do to fix that, no way to assist with what had already been written in stone and grief. The only other thing they could manage was a slight detour to leave the general to the door of his estate. Little and late, as help went.

 The game was a smaller still contribution, a rematch for a decade old loss offered calmly, surprise at the acceptance hidden. Eskr hated being inactive, but he had been sure that in this case there was nothing he could do save telling the merchants to leave his old friend alone. He hadn’t considered that simply treating Féren as he always had would have been of any help.

 At the beginning of play his moves had been deliberately mediocre, consideration for Féren’s missing fingers and lack of practice combining with his own rusty talent. Féren had caught him, though - still a general, after all. The patterns governing his play seemed to have changed noticeably, but his skill hadn’t diminished. Now the artist wasn't holding back, and they were still mostly even.

 Or had been, until the last soldier had suffered a defeat. Féren would find it difficult to get to the edge without that flank guard.

 The wagon rolled over a bump in the road and Eskr hissed in muted irritation. Fingers that seemed almost too thick for their speed righted the few pieces that had toppled. His opponent hadn't reacted yet, gaze unmoving and unfocused. Strategizing, or lost to worse thoughts? “Féren. Still paying attention?”


(#000033)

Féren

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Rabanu'azgh
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2015, 03:56:00 AM »
It was almost ironic how a general had depended upon a pacifist to get himself home after one of the most gruesome experiences in his life, but Féren had ceased to care about what was supposed to happen. Báren was supposed to be alive. Dwarves were supposed to be bearded. And Féren himself was supposed to be beating this skinscribe at rabanu'azgh. He had one of the most formidable rabanu'azgh players in the Iron Hills for a wife, and he wasn't exactly out of practice. But somehow, Féren had foolishly let one of his flanks unguarded for Eskr to conquer. He couldn't hold back a grimace when Eskr knocked over one of his pieces with a triumphant gleam in his eyes and said, "Your move." It was very easy to see his skillful wife just before him with the same amiable expression of victory in her eyes, inviting him to the next move. Victory from whoever was before him was even more a challenge than the invitation to play.

It was almost funny, too; as in another life, Eskr could have been either under his command or commanding him. This game, too, wouldn't be happening. It was only chance that had brought them together into the same wagon that would lead them back to the Iron Hills, back home. For in their youth, Féren and Eskr had been on friendly terms as soldier recruits. (While Eskr had never backed down from a fight, Féren had foreseen from the moment he had struggled with the use of weapons that perhaps the office of warrior was not the right one for his fellow Dwarf. He had been proven right when the young Dwarf had come back from a journey from Eriador changed, and declaring himself a pacifist, of all things.) But despite identifying as a pacifist, Féren could still see the Eskr of their youth in this current game and in the opponent he faced. Everything from the beginning of a smug smile...

Afterwards Féren would curse himself for letting his mind wander like that of an old Dwarf's. Yet it was somehow impossible not to think of Vári's usual grin when seeing Eskr before him...and in Vári that fateful afternoon when the orc horde had descended upon their little gathering and slaughtered them all...or was it them all? Vári, Elví and Torûnn Féren hadn't seen fall right before his eyes; they had tried to draw the remaining orcs away from Féren and Láil to the riverbank closeby, and while it failed to spare Láil's or Báren's life, it was a perfectly good possibility the others had made it out alive...Then again, when he had been knocked out by the Orcs, and dragged across the ground, it had been Dwarven blood that his face was splattered with when he woke up. And it was not his own. Not his own...it had been from the absent-minded Vári's, or the patient and clever Elví, or the cheerful Torûnn...there was no way to know if any of them had lived to return to Silver Hill and tell Séla the news, and bring back Báren's body.

There was a bump in the road that jarred him momentarily from the memory, but Eskr helped him out of the flashback better. "Féren. Still paying attention?" Féren broke away from the reverie he had snapped into with a sick taste in his mouth from the vivid memory of the coppery blood drenching his face, or the dark gray sky of the terrible evening. His eyes darted to the board and one his hands went to his chin to a beard that no longer existed (fittingly, when one of the fingers in that hand no longer existed either). The general's gaze once again became lost, but this time because he failed to see the wisest move he could make. Eskr's blow on his flank had certainly been large...It took him a few minutes to find his bearings in the game again. Out of pride, the general refused to say a word or shrug off his lapse of attention until he had made a move in the game, and have that serve as an answer. Five minutes later, Féren picked up a piece with his heavily right hand (the one missing the little and ring fingers) to the unprotected side of his king. "You tell me." While the phrase was supposed to be sarcastic in tone, the bold tone that meant to accompany the joke was missing, and it only fell as a ghastly reminder than he was not the same Dwarf from four months earlier.

There was a sharp turn in the road that had Féren drop one of his pieces by accident when he drew back his hand after his latest move. The general bent over to pick up the piece and put it back in place, which prompted him to speak up and face his own shyness. "You'll have to forgive my silence, old friend," rasped the general. "And my clumsiness."

Played by Jo

Eskr

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Rabanu'azgh
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2015, 12:20:00 PM »
Faces were only slightly harder to read than movements had once been, and Eskr suspected that Féren had been well and truly distracted by unpleasant memories. He didn’t say as much – he didn’t say anything – but the sudden focus only made its earlier absence clear. Minutes ticked by as the general analysed the board, the artist waiting patiently, leaning back with folded arms to figure out what his next move might be.

 Finally, a piece was moved to take the place of the one he had knocked over. Too close to the piece he had used to capture it to repeat the procedure… This was a dilemma. “You tell me.” A far smaller dilemma than figuring out how he was supposed to act when Féren was so unlike himself. Eskr hummed an assent, unfolding his arms and leaning forward to calculate what to do next.

 Before the movement could be completed, a sharp curve caused a piece to need reclaiming. The soldier gave an unnecessary apology and Eskr shook his head almost absently before fixing his steady gaze on Féren again. “It’s fine. And there’s no clumsiness in your strategy, anyway.”

 He rolled the dice cautiously, taking care to keep it on the table, and winced subtly at the result. A pawn was moved across to guard against further reinforcements, but he had been hoping to break open that flank again. As it stood, within a round he would probably lose the knight that had first attempted the manoeuvre. “Particularly for a dead man.” … He could blame recent events putting him far off kilter for that tactlessness, but he should have known better. “Sorry.” The apology was quiet, and far too small for all Féren had suffered.

((OOC: jsfbla This is so short in comparison to yours, sorry! I can add a little more if you wish?)


(#000033)

Féren

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Re: Rabanu'azgh
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2016, 11:28:07 PM »
“It’s fine. And there’s no clumsiness in your strategy, anyway.” Eskr smoothed over the incident by continuing the game. The unlucky roll made Féren chuckle aloud - it was entirely honest, if a little weak. The roll would lose Eskr that knight - and after a few more moves from Féren, it would be time to claim the match, and then start up a rematch. He hadn’t had a game as easy (and lucky) as this since he’d had some free time with his brothers, years ago. Maybe it was just the odds that were helping Féren - having the odds on your side was no feat, having them against you was no failure. (Féren still had no doubt Eskr was going to ask for a rematch when he lost).

“Particularly for a dead man.” Féren winced a little, but refrained from lashing out at Eskr for his impulsive comment. “Sorry.” Eskr caught himself too late, but Féren did not want to hold anything against his friend. “It’s fine.” In spite of his intentions, Féren’s eyes drifted away from his friend and on the board, trying to hold on to something emotionless - strategy. That’s always what kept Séla from driving herself mad. When there was a game to be played with the mind, there was enough to keep from despair. When one had nothing save cold, hard reality at your feet, it was harder. Such as when you’re tied up by Orcs and beaten to a pulp.

Ah. The odds seemed to be in Féren’s favor, as the dice allowed Féren to brush aside the pawn, and none of Eskr’s other pieces could reach him. Trying to attack Féren from another side was a bad move, he was pretty vulnerable and Féren would end Eskr quicker than Eskr would him. “I know, I’m lucky today,” Féren apologized, but still broke a little smile. “I still have a feeling it’s less about how I beat you than how quickly.”

Played by Jo

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