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Hearts of Irony
Topic Started: Jul 30 2016, 02:57 PM (423 Views)
Rorick Skyve
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((Maxim Kehlenbrink continued from Wasserweber))

Maxim reached for the bowl of chips placed next to his PC's monitor, grabbing a handful, then crammed them into his mouth, all while not taking his eyes off the virtual chessboard. A bit too salty for his taste. Too much salt, too little else, made for a stale mix. Maybe getting some yoghurt from the kitchen would help, as soon as he had made his next move. Yes, that did sound like a good idea.

It was still Alessio's turn, the guy certainly did take his time. He regretted not having insisted on setting up timers for each turn, make the game a little more fast-paced. Too late for that now, but it didn't matter that much, really. This way, he would have plenty of time to get his yoghurt, at least, no time pressure or anything of the sort.

There, finally, his opponent made his move. Huh. That had certainly not been what Maxim had expected. Moving the bishop almost seemed kind of unnecessary, he couldn't think of any way that it would benefit Al. Maybe he just ran out of ideas? His opponent's situation wasn't exactly looking bright, could be that he was simply panicking. Poor guy. Hard to not feel at least a little bad for him, especially since he himself had been so eagerly pushing for the two of them to play some checkers.

Even so, he was still not having too much fun. Chess was probably just not his game, too straight forward, lacking narrative et cetera. Had hoped that his disposition towards it would change at least somewhat, after playing it for a bit, but no. He was still rather bored, though that did not mean he would start to go easy on Al, no. His friend had picked it, now he was going to suffer the consequences, no room for mercy. Well, that sure sounded a tad harsh, but honestly, he was feeling slightly miffed, though he couldn't blame Alessio for it. He could have protested when his pal had proposed to play chess and he didn't. Least he could do was winning the satisfaction of...well, winning. And so he would, it all looked like that was going to be the case.

Now it was time for him to find a suitable response: Board hadn't changed much, Al's king was still mostly safe behind his wall of pawns. Good thing he had taken both of his knights already though, those ones could be real pests, if used correctly. How, he would show his friend soon enough. Could move his own bishop in order to threaten the black rook over there, or-

Ja, holla. Couldn't believe it had taken him so long to notice, but the bishop Al had just moved was now standing completely in the open, on a silver platter. All it would take was a quick diagonal swoop with his queen.

"I feel kind of bad doing this, but..you were a bit unobservant just now, weren't you?" A word and a blow. Yet another of Al's pieces lay slain to his own feet. Maxim couldn't help but smile a little, just a little bit. "I'll go fetch something from the kitchen real quick, be right back. Take your time with your next move." He could have added 'Wouldn't want to lose another one of your pieces like that, would you?' He didn't really consider it though, bordered far too much on asshole territory. Not a place he was willing to cross over to.

Wiping some crumbs off his lip and taking off his headset with his other hand, Maxim got up from his chair, eager to get his hands on some strawberry yoghurt.
Edited by Rorick Skyve, Jul 30 2016, 08:17 PM.
Peoples and Sheeples for V6
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Maxim considered speeding up his walking pace, even outright jogging to the kitchen. But no, that notion was ridiculous, no need to hurry, none at all. Alessio would need at least a minute or so to make his move, he was sure of it. Besides, the sooner the game was over, the higher the chance of Al insisting they play another round would get. Definitely not what he had in mind. Not because of Al, of course, the guy was entertaining enough. Checkers wasn't though and never would be, end of story.

He trotted down the stairs to the house's main floor, careful not to step on that one creaky spot again. Hated the sound of someone stepping on it, almost as bad as nails on a chalk board, just completely unpleasant. How many times had he asked his dad to fix it now? Should have been easy enough for him, being a craftsman and all. Apparently though, he was simply too busy to be able to take care of it. Right. Never heard that excuse before, he might have as well admitted to forgetting about it over and over. Yes, he was his dad, Maxim should have been grateful and all, but still. There was no fool like an old fool.

Entering the kitchen, his gaze immediately wandered towards the Mickey Mouse themed clock hanging above the fridge. About time he got rid of that monstrosity as well. Reminded him far too much of their old place in Oldenburg.
Time was passing fast though. About ten more minutes till 4 am, when had they even started? He couldn't remember, but it had to have been...at least twenty minutes or so, right? Maybe Alessio still knew, he could ask him once he got back. If he even cared to.

A minute filled with pleasant anticipation later, he was sitting back in his beloved desk chair, yoghurt in front of him, putting his headset back on. "Back. Did you move? Wish there was some sort of indication by the game, showing which piece was moved where or something like that. Have to rely on memory, which isn't exactly - ach, never mind, I'm seeing it now."

Not the worst move to make. Certainly an improvement over the one before. Still, didn't look like it was going to help Al much in the long run. Pretty safe to say he had him, only a matter of time now. Dipping a single potato chip into the yoghurt, Maxim moved his cursor over his queen and made it move towards the white frontline.

"By the way, how long are we playing now? Think I lost track of the time. Definitely feels longer than our usual matches though, but that might just be me."
Edited by Rorick Skyve, Aug 5 2016, 10:08 AM.
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Well, so much for getting an useful answer. He could have filled a warehouse with all the clues Alessio didn't have. Sort of mean, but as long as he wasn't saying it out loud, there'd be no harm done.

He dipped another chip into the creamy strawberry-flavored mass before him to devour it a second later. Much better, much much better than having to eat the chips alone. He would have to tell his dad to not buy those again, something more spicy the next time. Some with curry, maybe. Had to be some curry-flavored chips sold somewhere, for sure. Not his biggest worry at the moment, though. The bigger problem was that Alessio was beginning to make an admirable job of defending his king's realm, showing more foresight now, moving much faster too. Maybe he had been premature in silently celebrating his victory.

No, he still had this. Just stalling, that was all this was, his opponent was lacking ways to strike back. Couldn't win just by holing oneself up, certainly not.

Seemed almost strange to him that he was getting that invested. His occasional matches with Al were usually little more than tolerable distractions at best, depending on his mood. Right now though, he really didn't feel like even considering the possibility of losing to his friend. Maybe it was due to his current crankiness, caused by having to play chess in the first place. Almost seemed like a paradox.

Either way, he had to carefully consider his next move. His queen was now being threatened by the white rook, a bold move. He had expected Al to be less aggressive - well, less passively aggressive, in any case. Hole himself up some more, maybe move a pawn, but not his rook. On the other hand, maybe this meant he'd get more careless, impaired in his judgment. Had to make use of that, somehow.

"Good one, have to admit." Give his opponent a little praise, coax him into thinking he was on the winning track. There was no real opening to stage some sort of ambush, but he could create one, with a little patience. Maxim ordered his queen back.

"Your turn."
Edited by Rorick Skyve, Aug 5 2016, 10:09 AM.
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Well, it seemed like Alessio hadn't learned after all. Maxim was all too happy to add yet another hastily wasted white piece to his queen's kill list. That said, the little excitement he had just felt as of the prospect of Al shaping up to be a more sizable opponent had vanished almost immediately.

Apparently, that move before had just been luck then, seeing as his friend had followed it up with a turn like that. Well, on the plus side, the sooner he'd win, the sooner they were able to play something different, granted Maxim would even be in the mood to play something at that point. If he was being honest, he'd have much rather continued his Morrowind campaign. Nothing against Alessio, really, but if he was going to propose playing together, he could have at least had the courtesy to choose something they could both enjoy.

Maybe that was the problem though. He probably had never made it clear to his friend that he was not enjoying their clashes of checkers too much, so only had himself to blame, really. Then again, he did not truly want to reveal how he felt, didn't want to risk inconveniencing Al in any way. Though enough of that grim outlook, he had to concentrate.

Yet another careless move by Alessio. Jesus, was he even paying attention at this point? He was almost tempted to make some sort of remark, but he was able to hold back. Maybe Al had just accepted defeat, wanted to get it over with quickly. Maybe that was the case. Which would be to their mutual benefit, so all was fine. Just had to take another one of the pawns and then all that was left was...

No, wait. Now he had made a mistake, acted too quickly. Not only that, but there was now a gaping hole in his own frontline. Had Alessio actually expected this to happen? There was no way, no way he had been fooled that easily, been caught in a trap like an overconfident rabbit. Goddamn.

"Well, I have to give you kudos on that one. Can't say I saw it coming."

Maxim crushed a single chip in his fist, suddenly beginning to feel a rising anxiety within. Yes, as a matter of fact, it looked like the tables had turned. Or were about to turn, at least. He could still work with that though, turn the situation around the other way again. Just had to focus a little more now, all that it took. He'd still win, eventually.







Edited by Rorick Skyve, Aug 5 2016, 10:10 AM.
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Maxim's hand reached out to the bowl once more, hoping to find solace in something as simple as an overly salty snack. He found that fate had denied him even that, the bowl was now empty, safe for a carpet of crumbs littered on its bottom. For a split second, he felt like tossing the thing away, punish it for failing him in his hour of need. He had to restrain himself though, he knew that. Chewing his lip, he reached for the yoghurt instead, using his index finger wipe up a bit of the remaining content, then stuck it into his mouth. Sweet, but not sweet enough to combat that bitterness that had just arisen.

He looked at the time that was displayed on the right of his task bar. Ten past three, hadn't even taken fifteen minutes for Alessio to completely annihilate him, ever since that weaselly move he pulled. That wasn't right, it didn't feel right. He had lost to Al before, sure, but usually, those defeats had been due to his own lack of interest or by him not being at his best, mentally. This time, it felt so much more...wrong, simply wrong, yes. Just not fair.

Worst of all, he felt like he had wasted his time double now. Wasted it by playing chess itself and then lost on top of it. Double waste indeed. Gottverdammt.

"Well, I suppose I have to congratulate you. Might have been our longest match yet."

He wasn't going to admit how he felt, of course he wasn't. That would only feed the other guy's satisfaction, make him appear even weaker than he already looked. Fine, whatever. It was how it was, best to simply move on, forget about this.

'What next?' Was that a hint of mockery in Al's voice? Almost sounded like it, like he was casually saying 'That was easy, what now?' Or maybe he was just imagining things. Didn't really fit Al to get cocky, wasn't in his character at all. But who knew, maybe he just discovered a new side of himself? Unlikely, but possible. After all, how well did he know Alessio, really? They were friends, yes, but what did that mean, wasn't like they had signed a contract, revealed their true nature to each other. Yes, maybe Al was being cocky. He'd ignore his question, for now.

"You have to admit though, you got lucky that one time, yes. That one move with your bishop, got lucky that I didn't pay attention. Might have went down completely different otherwise.
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Now that was certainly new. Simply admitting to it, was he? Either that, or it was just yet another way of mocking him, like he didn't even take him for full. There was no way a person would normally admit to being lucky, not that easily. He had expected Al to at least feign being insulted, anything of the sort. But flat out conceding...yes, he had to make of fun of him, it was the only thing that made sense.

"I mean you..."

Maxim was unsure of what he was going to say next. There were many possible endings to that sentence floating around in his mind, possibly even too many. Yet none of them seemed like anything he'd want to say to Alessio. Maybe he was being too harsh, starting to make ants into molehills. Then again, this entire thing really stung, stung badly, like a thorn stuck in his side or pride, rather.

Yes, proud, that was what he was being, too proud. Losing had clearly angered him, more than he liked to admit. It wouldn't even have been so bad, had he only been able to convince himself that he deserved to lose that one. But no, it still didn't seem fair to him, Al had played so mindlessly and yet he had succeeded, made his victory look like a walk in the park. It was just simply unnerving. Even more so that the guy didn't even seem to want to discuss it any further. So unsatisfying, ten pounds of yoghurt and chips couldn't have compensated for that.

"Ach, vergi- forget about it. Not that important anyway."

He stroked his chin, still nervously biting at his lower lip. It really was best to drop the whole thing. Just relax and move on with his life and the call. But no, no he couldn't, he wouldn't. He had to be sure, sure of that one thing, at least. "Well, tell me this though: That whole thing with sacrificing your bishop and the pawn, you didn't plan for it to turn out the way it did, did you? Creating that whole gap in my defense and all, you couldn't have planned all that, right?"
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Maxim didnít even know what to make of that answer. Al had just admitted that he had been lucky, seconds ago, now he was saying the opposite, saying he had it all planned out after all. He really didnít want to believe that his friend was making fun of him, that was the last thing he wanted. But it simply didnít make sense, this was not like the Alessio he knew. Or was it?

Maybe Al was simply not paying attention, saying things on the fly, just to shake off his questions. Maybe that was it, maybe he himself was being pesky, pushy, all that. Of course, he should have known it had been him all along. He was being an idiot, a sore loser and an idiot to top it off.

He felt defeated, in more ways than one. Hochmut kommt vor dem Fall, so they said. There probably was no other saying that was as appropriate as this one right now. He had been proud, cocky even, he of all people. Proud of what? There was nothing he could have even dared being proud about, nothing at all. At least he had realized it in time, before being able of going too far, off harassing poor Alessio even further. It wasnít new to him, of course. Just every once in a while, he forgot about that simple truth. Least he could now was apologize. Or change subject, at least.

"Anyway.ď

He could have proposed playing a different game, maybe one he could enjoy as much as Alessio, for a change. But honestly, he didnít feel like it. Didnít feel like even trying to have fun right now, not even like reading something. He just wanted to be able to relax, maybe just lie down on his bed and stare at the ceiling for an hour or so. Anything to escape the current situation. To just be by himself.

"Anyway, I think thatís it for me right now. Didnít really sleep well last night, still feel rather tired. So yes, I think we should call it a day. It has been fun though, really.ď

No choice, he had to make use of that famous white lie. No point in inconveniencing Al any further.
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Was there anything else he needed to be saying? Probably not. Even if something had come to mind, it was too late for that now, Alessio had just quit the call. Most likely for the best, who knew if he hadn't made it worse with more talk.

Maxim leaned back in his desk chair, firmly pressing his back against the backrest as if he was trying to push through it. He licked his lips, staring at the screensaver of his desktop for what seemed like minutes to him, at least in his head. It had probably only been seconds, but with his mind being unusually empty for once, almost a blank, a mere void, he felt like he had lost track of space and time for a short duration. Only then did he notice that he was still wearing his headphones, promptly brushing them off his head with a swipe of the hand.

It started to feel like his neck was cramping, courtesy of not moving his head around for probably far too long. So he looked to the right, at his most sacred resting place. His bed was in a total disarray, sheet and blanket rumpled and clearly looking like they were in need of changing and probably contributing to the staleness of the air in the room as well. Ugh, how he hated having to change it by himself, sorely missed were the times where his dad would take that burden off his shoulders. Begging for him to that job today, only today, that was still an option. But no, even he wasn't that lazy, this was a matter of pride. His dad had enough to deal with as it was.

But even so, with his mood having received a serious blow, he felt like the effects of said blow were already beginning to wear off. He couldn't quite describe it, but the sudden angst that had gotten hold of him seemed to be supplanted by a different sentiment entirely. He was still slightly annoyed, yes, but that wasn't because of that whole business with Alessio. To be honest, he did feel almost at peace, an idle, hollow form of peace, but peace nonetheless. So much at peace that he was willing to ignore the fact that his bed clearly needed a cleaning of some sort and simply threw himself on the musty sheets, no regrets.

Tired, that was how he felt now. Not anxious, not resentful towards himself, just tired. It wasn't hard to see why that was, both him being tired and having shaken off that overwhelming negativity rather quickly. It was because he was by himself now. No longer having to worry how to act, what to say, he was alone with only his own thoughts and a few lonely socks lying around to keep him company. And quite honestly, he preferred it that way. He wasn't needed elsewhere, not by Al or anyone else, so he was content just being here. At least for that moment.

Nodding off was looking awfully tempting now.




"Match of chess? Well, sure, don't see why not. I don't have a better idea anyway, so let's go with that."

The game hadn't even started yet and he was already making a mistake. The mistake being him conceding that easily. Of all the possible games, chess. Sure, they played that every once in a while, but it was the same each time, with him not being able to enjoy himself, at all. Alessio seemed to really be into it though. Probably wouldn't have proposed to play it otherwise, time after time.

Well, it was too late now. He had agreed, now he had to live with that. Hopefully, those new chips his dad had bought would be something for him to smile about. Didn't sound like they were going to be, but once could never know. He'd save them for a later time though. Munching away right at the beginning didn't feel right, he had only just eaten a short while ago. About...an hour ago, yes, since it was 3:30 now, at least according to his taskbar's time display.

"Go ahead, open up a new game, I'll join."
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There they were, neatly lined up, a phalanx of black and white. He could almost envision them as humans and orcs, Gandalf and Saruman both leading the battle from behind their lines. Though that did probably make him the bad guy in this scenario, given he had the black pieces. Then again, Saruman was called Saruman the White and besides, that entire trope with white representing 'Good' and black 'Evil' was not to his taste anyway. Too trite, simply put. White was the color of death in Chinese culture after all. Though that too did not bode well for him.

This seemed like a good strategy though, simply pretending those dull virtual figures out there on those checkered Plains of Justice were some kind of fantasy armies, trolls and ogres and elves and whatnot. Certainly made it more interesting to him.

It was his turn. Naturally, the only logical thing for him to do was to move one of his pawns - his goblins. Preferably the one directly opposed to the one Al had just moved forward. Would make for a nice little duel, though not really, since all the two pieces would be doing was stare at each other indefinitely until someone else than their opposite freed them of their burden. Alessio would probably move one of his own goblins in return and -

No, no no, this wasn't working, not at all. Renaming the pieces like that was silly, that's what it was, nothing but silly. Even if J. R. R. Tolkien himself had narrated the proceedings of their match, it couldn't have made up for how unbearably repetitive this game was. It might have been sort of fun the first few times he had ever played it, but just like an elderly PC game that had aged badly, it had lost its charm, wasn't up to his standards anymore.

Again, no use in whining. All he could do was grit his teeth and get to it, get through it. The least he could hope from all this was walking away with the satisfaction of a hard-fought victory. He really hoped so. But Al wasn't that much of an opponent anyway. It wasn't going to be much of a problem, most certainly not.

"Well, get to it. It's been your turn for quite some time now."


((Maxim Kehlenbrink continued in Empire of Dirt))
Edited by Rorick Skyve, Aug 6 2016, 04:41 AM.
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