by Amit

First published

Celestia and Chrysalis have a discussion over chess.

Be forewarned: contains troll!Chrysalis.

Res Ludo

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The circular room of the hovel was quiet and slightly dark. The table in the centre was its only decoration, besides the Royal Guards standing at the eastern entrance and the changelings standing at the west. The war had been going on for a while; the guards, in particular, had a noticeably sharp edge to their movements, a sort of heavily-practised restraint.

Perhaps because the object of their worship was playing chess with the object of their damnation.

Chrysalis pushed a pawn forward.

“I don’t think you understand.”

Celestia pushed one in return.

“I don’t believe I do, Queen. In all my millennia of rule, I have never understood you.” She looked down at the board. “En passant.”

Chrysalis pushed a rook forward.

“And in my hundred, I never have you.” She poked at the piece absentmindedly. “It’s very simple, Celestia. We simply need you to sign the treaty which we have so graciously offered.”

Celestia captured the rook with a pawn of hers.

“That isn’t what I fail to understand, Queen. What do you gain from fighting us? You feed on love—how do you live in war?”

Chrysalis pushed another pawn forward.

“The love of the mare for her gone foal. The love of the filly for her lost colt.” She allowed herself a very slight laugh. “That kind of love is delicious, you know. A bit sour, but so, so sweet.”

Celestia pushed a pawn only a single space forward.

“If war nourishes you, why would you seek peace?”

Chrysalis pushed her pawn to be capturable by Celestia’s.

“You hurt my feelings, Celestia. I can be altruistic as anyone else.”

“I highly doubt that.” She grit her teeth a little as she looked down at the board and pushed another pawn forward. “En passant. What game are you playing?”

“Fine, fine. I’ll give up my game.” She pushed another pawn forward. “You do know what happens after a war, yes?”

Celestia’s hoof tapped against her chin. She had a slight tenseness about her; within the second, the adjective had lost its adverb.

“You don’t just want to live among us.”

Chrysalis grinned.

“What’s that language you keep using, Celestia?” She took a glance to the pawns she’d discarded. “Ah, yes. L'amour en passant is much more satisfying du robinet. Your move.”

Celestia brought out a knight.

“I am not going to allow you, Queen, to soil our blood with yours.”

Chrysalis put forth her queen.

“You are a ‘god’, aren’t you? You feel the cries of your subjects, just as I do?”

Celestia advanced her knight.

“What does it matter to you?”

Chrysalis let her queen settle out of the knight’s range.

“Do you hear their cries? Their screams to you and their pleas to you and their love for you?”

Celestia captured the queen with a pawn.

“The pleas. The cries. Sometimes the love.”

Chrysalis advanced a bishop and landed diagonally to the knight.

“You should thank us. We take most of the love before it reaches you.”

Celestia took the bishop with another pawn.

“Queen. I have presided over this world for millennia and I will live until this world is nothing more than a cold, decaying cinder. I have seen more bloodshed than you will ever be able to imagine, and I will see more that you will ever believe. You will not intimidate me.”

While she spoke, Chrysalis moved another pawn.

“But it hurts, doesn’t it? It hurts so much.” She raised an eyebrow. “Perhaps you know the tiniest fragment of what it feels to be the queen of a starving hive.”

Celestia moved another pawn of hers.

“You know nothing of my troubles. Your lives are short, violent, brutal. My little ponies have lived in peace for centuries.”

Chrysalis advanced her pawn.

“And that’s why we’ll win this war.” She tilted her head to the side a bit. “I hope you know that they don’t have to be short. With enough love, we can live until the stars themselves wane.”

Celestia moved her own, and then hers.

“Perhaps I should love you enough to make you suffer that fate with me. En passant.”

Chrysalis laughed and pushed a knight onwards.

“Spiteful love. I’ve had that before; it’s quite tangy. I’m feeding off your love right now, you know. For your little ponies. It’s really very nice; I think your analogy would be the taste of figs.”

Celestia captured the undefended knight with a bishop.

“Enough. I’m not going to sign the treaty, Queen, and that is final.”

Chrysalis put her remaining rook on the field.

“Your people are going to lose. They won’t fight without loving you, and we can leech from that. The only way you’re going to win is by exterminating them. And we don’t kill them, you know. We make them ours. Most of them don’t want to go back to you.”

Celestia captured the rook with her second knight.

“I refuse to debate this further, Queen.”

Chrysalis pushed her king to the side, hiding it behind a pawn.

“Do you hear their fading screams as we drag them into our pods?”

Celestia took the pawn with her queen.

“You’re losing. Check.”

Chrysalis took her queen with her king.

“Your people will fall. Your pitiful little unicorn love magic only made me stronger. You will be the ruler of an extinct people.”

Celestia moved her bishop in and took the king.

“Checkmate. I won. I won, Chrysalis.”

“Ooh. Finally using my given name? How kind of you, Celly.”

Celestia grinned in a slightly manic manner. “No matter what you say, Queen, I have won today. I will win. Magic is eternal, and friendship is magic. You will be driven from our lands, and my little ponies will be free from your clutches.”

Chrysalis rolled her eyes.

“It’s just a game, Celestia. You’re still losing in real life.”

Celestia stood and stared at her for a bit, making as if to clear an obstruction from her throat.

She turned wordlessly around, preparing to leave the place; the Royal Guards glanced at Chrysalis wearily.

“Don’t you want another game?”

She didn’t turn around. “No. No more games.”

The Princess walked out, and her guards followed.

The Queen called after her. “Hey! Does that mean I can have your stuff?

No response came.

She shrugged. “I guess I can add that to the warchest.”

Queen Chrysalis picked the chess set up with her magic, carrying it away cheerfully as her guards saw her out.