The air is heavy with steam. I stare out the window. The ice appeared on the ground this morning. Reports are being dropped from the blimp as it floats over the institute. I turn back to the chessboard. The projected map showed movement overnight. Knight 1 has entered the institute. Bishop 2 is over Camac River. I move the pieces accordingly. I turn to my wood stock. Growing well, with  my oak trees creeping through the cracks in the concrete.

 

Bishop 1 has disappeared. The portal-beasts must have gotten to them. I close my eyes as I relive the screams of the unfortunate. Their cries as they were pulled in, and the screams that started before the portal had fully closed. The terror of the few who survived the first round of attacks from the creatures with faces like death. Dark, scaled skin with terrifying red marks covering them, red blood running in seemingly endless rivulets that flow over their scars. I stop and I breathe. I cannot get into that place again. That fear and terror. The sleepless nights full of nightmares playing before my open eyes. I turn my attention back to the chessboard.

Castle 2 is upriver from Grange Castle. They both rest on the riverside, which runs parallel to the LUAS lines. Long Unsafe Automoving System which was built by the magi. The River Camac runs parallel to the River Brittas, upon which the crumbling ITT stands, its appearance deceptive for the technology within. The Round Tower stands at the crossing of these two rivers.

 

Bishop 2 has turned the blimp. I count the wood stock again. 52 trees. Enough. I make my rounds, locking windows and doors as I go.

My room, with a bed and blankets is warm. The only room I bother to heat, I power the kitchen and the drug stronghold. I count the cans in the kitchen. 520 cans remain. Water continues to flow. I have filled 20 baths so far, in a room with 2 space heaters.

Bishop 2 is in Brittas. My chessboard shows no-one else there. Now is my chance. But I can’t leave here. I press into the storage room and make a call on my computer. Knight 1 answers and I see pawn exiting the room.

“The time is now. Go”

I end the call and sit. I am terrified. I see the monks in the round tower. They made it clear that I wasn’t’ worthy. I cross to my chessboard. And I summon the power from within to freeze Knight 1’s position.

It will not hold for more than a day. But it should be enough. Reports from Queen 2 at Grange Castle states that Castle 1 has dammed the river. This cuts off the monks, and queen 2 himself. Camac is still safe. As long as ITT is working on a solution, no-one will interfere. Because we would all know exactly what happened. I track Knight 1’s journey. They have hit the N7. The snow. Now wonder Bishop 2 left.

I then turn to the monks. They are too still. I do the unthinkable. I freeze my position and get the LUAS to Clondalkin. I walk until I am under a window. “What will we do with the body? It’s too dangerous”. I stop. A portal has opened up. I freeze. But the creature doesn’t want me. It enters the window. And then the screams start. I run. And I fall. I entered the portal. And everything turns to black as I fall to the ground.

 

When I wake, I am in Newcastle. I have no memory of how I got here. I just remember the dizzying sensation of falling into the portal. I get up. And I fall. Looking around I see four large claw marks on my legs. I get up and I stumble my way to the Grand Canal. Knight 1 will be at the hospital by now. My legs are numb. I keep going and I start having flashes of what happened. Darkness. And then light. I woke up in the portal. And I saw what happened. There was torture. My cuts are from the claws that push you out of the portals. And the dizziness…Poison.

I can scarcely keep going. I pull a swatch of parchment out of my coat and realise that the marks cover my back also. I summon a blade of grass to my hand and write in its inky essence. I write my story down, to be found on my body, my corpse, for soon that would be all that I am to this world. I explain, leaving my single blade of grass drained of all colour and clear. I know what I must now do. I struggle on, towards the dam. It must be destroyed before it destroys us. But just as the dam comes in to view, I fall to the ground. And there my story ends, as the darkness consumes my vision and the poison invades my brain. There is nothing more I can do.