The wind howls and moans like a wounded animal as it lashes the snows against the mountainside. Deep within the cavern a dancing fire dispells the cold. The wolves sprawl about near the fire, waiting patiently for the storm to pass.
Softly, the woman sings an ancient chant to the herbs she has dipped into the boiling water. "A Nail, Nathrac..." her voice hangs on the air like a child's laughter as she sings. finally the brew is ready and she sits, tastes, smiles, then sets the cup aside and focuses on the board before her.
Breathing deeply but gently, she allows her mind to relax, releasing her consciousness to the warmth of the fire and the scent of the herbed brew. Softly chanting, her awareness fades and another part of her mind rises; that part of her mind that knows no language or order, only pictures and visions.
As her awareness shifts, the board leaps to life, the pieces moving in a dance as old as time. They shift, shift back, then shift again to her gentle voice. Finally, with a slight movement of her hand, the board settles down, a piece moves, and the board fades to be replaced with a new board.
Once again she gazes at the pieces until this new configuration begins to reveal its secrets, begins the dance, then settles down as she moves a piece. The board fades and another appears in it's place. Gently she brushes an errand strand of raven black away from her crystal blue eyes and makes another move, her voice never failing in her ancient chant.
In the cavern below the mountain, the goddess of chess weaves the pattern...