Chapter 7 - Domnux Plains

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"One hour until Domnux Plains is reached."

The voice was gritty and mechanical, causing Eirek to tilt his head away from the holographic chess game. The message finished, he returned his focus to the game. In front of him was his opponent, Angal, examining each possible outcome while Eirek scanned for the opportunities. The onlooker of their game was Lady Clayse's advisor, Aeryn Shirewood, who sat on a blue bench to their left. Behind him a silver metal wall curved upwards to a glass ceiling.  Shirewood was a man of missing teeth and large bifocals, which clung to a nose that sagged with the rest of his skin. On the man's doublet was a badge of an ear—the symbol of anadvisor. On each of the man's fingers was a different ring, and on some fingers, two rings. 

"Your move."

Eirek entered a few numbers on the keypad located on a stand attached to the table and watched a scene play out for him: The bishop advanced on the horse from behind, slit the horse's neck, and shoved it down on the holographic board, where it shattered into pieces of data. Eirek had never seen anything like it and looked on in amazement as it happened.

"Entertaining, is it not?" Aeryn asked while playing with the bands on his fingers. 

"It's . . ." Eirek stumbled for words, "unusual."

"Unusual? Well, what is usual, then, for Eirek Mourse?"

He looked toward his uncle, still in contemplation. "Mystery."

Eirek watched as Angal mouthed scenarios to himself, drawing hypothetical lines of where he thought Eirek might move after he moved. Finally he entered his option and returned his gaze to Eirek. "I have just the perfect mystery."

What riddle is it this time? No visit was ever complete without a riddle of some sort. Angal usually asked them the first day and let Eirek ponder the possibilities for the next few days until finally solving it or forfeiting.

"What's that?" Aeryn arched his eyebrows and scratched the scruff on his chin.

 "What is it that the Ancients never saw, that the Twelve seldom see, but what we see every day?"

"A very interesting riddle you pose, Angal," Aeryn said.

Eirek scanned the battlefield while in contemplation of the riddle. Once satisfied with the battle plan drawn in his head, he entered his move. "How about—"

"A shackle?"

You might as well have said a tree. "No," Eirek said, in place of his uncle.

"Eirek, you know?"

"No, but I know it cannot be a shackle. I was going to say humans."

Aeryn laughed. "And you think your answer is better? It is too plain. Now, why cannot mine be a shackle? People see the environment they are in as a shackle constraining them."

Only because the Clayses are not as receptive as you would attest. Even before Eirek was dropped off twelve years ago, the Clayses had been in power. Growing up in the impoverished city of Creim, needing to walk ten miles to Lisyn for schooling because Creim was too small to have its own district, and the constant highwinds that roamed their area during the summer months, constantly tearing down homes and dreams just so they could be rebuilt without any aid from the family in power gave testament of their lack of receptiveness. Aeryn could never see that though; he came from a different cloth; so did Angal.

"Likewise, the Twelve are confined to their homes or their mountains of Volan and Klaff."

Eirek scanned the board again; Angal had just moved. His uncle's mischievous grin told him that he enjoyed their bickering. "And the Ancientswere shackled. Although they might not have seen it," Eirek finished. "Everyone knows they didn't disappear; they were locked away."

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