Introduction: This is a story about a young boy who enters the world of chess one day when his father teaches him the game. Daniel is an unusual boy who spends most of his time reading fantasy books about kings and knights and wars. The game of chess is a perfect match. Once he learns it and shows great aptitude, he joins a chess club. After that, his life changes forever when others become jealous of his playing ability. If you enjoy this first chapter, please let me know and I will post the second chapter.
THE MIND OF A KNIGHT - A Mini Serial Novel By Elijah Bell (AKA Knightly)
"What are you thinking about?" asked Charlotte, Daniel's mother. She stood over the ten year old, drying a dish as he sat, slumped in his chair, with a closed book on his lap. He didn't answer. His eyes were glazed over and he was staring into the fake fireplace to his right. She reached down and pulled the book from his limp hands, and examined the cover: "Knights of Horror" the book was called. The picture showed a group of black clad men on armored horses heading toward a silhouetted castle on a hill. Daniel's mother scoffed. She didn't approve of him reading such fanciful books about castles and knights. He had enough strange ideas as it was, that is, when he choose to voice them. She set the book back down and made a mental note to talk to her husband about allowing him to read such garbage.
She looked at Daniel, her only son. He was different from other children. He spent his days locked in his room or roaming their property in silence. He was never parted from his books, which he read as his main source of enjoyment. She was worried about the ideas he was picking up from reading about battles, wars, and bloodthirsty warriors. He rarely spoke, and when he did it was usually a thought or concept that others would not have even thought about, let alone voice aloud.
Later at the dinner table, the family was gathered together in general silence. It had been a tiring day for both of Daniel's parents. The silence was broken by Daniel about halfway though the meal:
"Who makes up the words on the back of the milk?"
"They pay writers to do that," said Roderick, Daniel's father after a moment's hesitation. That wasn't such a strange thing for any ordinary child to ask. But Daniel wasn't ordinary. He proved it by pressing on in his idea:
"Why don't they write anything interesting?"
"Like what?" asked Charlotte flatly.
"Like a story about the battles the knights went through to deliver the milk to the poor peasants?"
"I'm not sure they actually did that." said Roderick. Daniel brought his fist down hard on the table, making his plate jump slightly, as he stared intently at the back of the milk container.
They ate in silence again for a few moments before Charlotte spoke.
"Do you want to tell dad about your report card, or should I?" Daniel said nothing, chewing slowly as he looked over his shoulder into the kitchen.
"What about it?" Roderick asked. Charlotte shook her head.
"We'll talk about it later."
Daniel was not a great student. He was distracted and distant in classes and never listened to the teachers. As a result, his grades were always poor, and Roderick knew this, of course. But this time was different. He had never had worse grades than he had gotten that week.
After dinner, and once Daniel was in bed for the night, Roderick and Charlotte retired to the living room. Roderick was using the family computer to write a report for work and Charlotte was knitting something as she sat on a large puffy chair.
"What are we going to do about him?" asked Charlotte.
"Well, do you know what my dad did for me to help my critical thinking and problem solving skills?" Charlotte thought.
"You've never told me." she said.
"We played chess!" said Roderick, as if this was the most obvious thing in the world. "I thought I told you that before."
"Well, I guess you haven't. But do you really think that might help Daniel?"
"I don't know, it's worth a shot. I'll get out my old set and we'll play tomorrow."
The next day, a Saturday was Daniel's favorite day of the week. He was free from the ridicule of his fellow students and was able to enjoy his books and thoughts quietly outdoors on his parent's large country property where he had spent endless hours pottering around in the sun, listening to the birds, and sitting in the tree limbs with a good book clutched in his hands. Today was sunny and mild, a perfect day to be spent outdoors, away from everyone and everything that looked on him as if he was some sort of weirdo. He wasn't a weirdo. It was his ideas that would someday change the world. He knew that. He was the normal one amidst so many bafoons who considered it normal behavior to sit for hours in front of the television or video game console and waste hours a day chatting with friends online. That was detrimental behavior, Daniel thought.
Today he was sitting in his favorite tree. It was a crab apple tree that he called his "Reading Tree". It had many branches that were so comfortable to sit on and it was the perfect hiding spot. When he sat there in that tree, no one on the outside world could see in. He was his own person, free to read to his heart's content about whatever he pleased. He had just opened his latest book he had borrowed from the library and had begun to read about a boy called Carl who wanted to become a knight. He spent days training, and was about to go to the king and ask for a position in the knighthood. Just as Carl was about to enter the king's chambers, Daniel's bubble was popped as his father called up to him through the leaves of his tree.
"Dan, I want to talk to you for a minuet! Come on down." Daniel sighed and closed his book. It was just like his father to come looking for him right at the moment he had gotten comfortable and relaxed. He balanced the book in the crook of one of the branches, planing to return later, and lowered himself down to the ground.
"I've got something to show you!" said Roderick excitedly. He had something hidden behind his back. Daniel looked slightly interested. Roderick produced a folded wooden chess board from behind his back.
"This is the chess set I had when I was little!" he said with excitement in his voice. "I thought I'd teach you how to play." The look of interest disappeared from Daniel's face. "I don't want to learn how to play chess." he said. "It looks so boring."
"It's not boring, believe me." said Roderick. "In fact, I thought you would really enjoy it because you like those books about kings and castles and knights and things. You know what? Chess is about those exact same things." Daniel looked up for the first time during their conversation to look his father in the eye. "That's right!" said Roderick, picking up on the look of interest back on Daniel's face. "It's about war, and battles and strategy and tactics and all that great stuff you read about in those books. Do you want to learn how to play?"
Daniel was silent for a moment, going over the idea in his head. He did have all day, and if this "chess" was really like his dad had said, and it was a game about castles, knights, kings, battles, and tactics, he would really enjoy it. "Okay." He said, simply.
Roderick and Daniel spent the afternoon going over the rules of chess. He learned about how each one of the pieces moved, about how the king was the most important piece on the board. He learned how to set up the pieces and he learned about special moves like castling and one he didn't really understand called "en passant".
"Are you ready to play a game?" asked Roderick after several hours. "I think you're ready to beat me!" he said with a laugh.
"Yeah, let's play." agreed Daniel.
Roderick allowed Daniel to play white. White always moves first, so the game began with Daniel's move.
"What move do you want to make?" asked Roderick, but Daniel didn't hear him. His mind was soaring up, far away from his father and the game. Indeed, away from everything. He saw the trees becoming little bushes and the house shrinking to the size of a matchbox. Then everything became white as he was enveloped in a cloud and he closed his eyes.
This markes the end of this short first chapter of "The Mind of a Knight". If you want to hear more, please comment and I will post the second chapter.