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Finale! Part 2: Finding Solace in the Library
The conclusion in Lily's story of getting used to time apart from her sister...
Lily is still getting used to being alone while her sister is away in Scale City. In today’s story, she might just make a new friend…
Here is a link to the previous part in Lily’s story:
And here’s a link to the full Princess Hanna series:
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Ethel stood by as Mrs Sketcher and Lily spoke briefly about King Ash. She felt awkward just standing there, waiting to be introduced. She didn’t really want to be there at all. Just a few minutes ago, she had been peacefully minding her own business, doing her own thing.
Like Lily, Ethel was a lot smaller than the rest of the dragons her age in Courage Town. She didn’t like sports; fire and flying didn’t interest her either. She liked reading and she liked boardgames. Books allowed her to go on all sorts of incredible adventures. She had climbed snowy mountains and fought in epic battles. She had run restaurants and travelled through haunted forests.
She didn’t have a sister to walk to and from school with. She was used to being on her own.
Before being introduced to Lily, Ethel had been in her usual tucked away spot in the corner of the library, reading an old chess book that she had already read a thousand times. It was an enormous old book with tattered pages and a worn-down front cover -- the type of book one would expect to contain ancient spells and curses. It was written by an ancient chess grandmaster dragon named Tail and went over all of his strategies and theories of chess.
When Mrs Sketcher came over and told Ethel that there was someone she wanted to introduce her to, Ethel was, of course, extremely resistant. Eventually though, she gave in. She recognised just how much work Mrs Sketcher had always put into the library. In a way, she felt like she owed Mrs Sketcher. She also knew that Mrs Sketcher meant well.
So Ethel eventually gave in and answered Mrs Sketcher’s pleas with a huffy, “Fine.”
Once Ethel and Lily were introduced to each other, Mrs Sketcher quickly stepped away to let her plan play out, like someone releasing a healed bird from their hands to fly away.
Things certainly didn’t take off straight away between Lily and Ethel. Following Mrs Sketcher’s departure, there was a long awkward pause that neither of them knew how to fill. Ethel and Lily were both very quiet types. They weren’t used to leading a conversation. That was usually someone else’s job.
“You like King Ash?” asked Ethel finally.
Lily’s voice was timid.
“Yeah, I like King Ash,” said Lily. “I only just found out about him. How do you know about him?”
“I’ve read that book,” said Ethel. “I’ve read every book in here.”
Lily looked around at all of the books on the shelves.
“That’s impressive,” she said. “Which one is your favourite?”
Ethel smiled a cheeky smile and then plonked down the massive book she was carrying onto the desk right in front of Lily.
“What’s that?” Lily asked.
There was sudden excitement and eagerness in Ethel’s voice.
“It’s a book by a chess grandmaster named Tail. He writes about his strategies and theories and a whole bunch of classic chess battles.”
Lily started to flick through the book.
“Chess,” she said. “That’s a boardgame, right? I’ve never played it.”
The grin on Ethel’s face was unstoppable.
“Follow me,” she said.
Suddenly Ethel was closing up the chess book and snatching it back up under her wing. Lily was dazed for a moment and then she snapped into action and closed up her history book to take with her as well. For whatever reason, she was totally swept up with the action and was ready to follow this new girl’s lead.
Ethel dashed over to the corner where she had previously been sitting on her own, Lily chasing after her. There in the corner was Ethel’s chessboard. She quickly scooped up all of the pieces into a small pouch and then put the board under her arm along with the book.
They rushed across the library towards the exit, passing Mrs Sketcher on their way out.
“I need to borrow this book,” said Ethel on her way past.
“And I need to borrow this one,” said Lily right after.
Mrs Sketcher was just happy her plan had worked.
“No problem, girls,” she called out after Lily and Ethel. “But take care of them!”
Ethel and Lily left the library and ran up the road away from the town’s centre. Ethel led the way up the hill along the street. They eventually got to the last houses at the edge of town and kept running.
They followed the road out of town for a little while and then Ethel turned and started to run across a big open plot of farmland. On the farm there was a ginormous hill which they climbed as fast as they could.
By the time they reached the top, they were both exhausted and panting. The view was incredible though. The open farmland stretched out beautifully below them, the grass swaying with the breeze.
Lily was looking out, taking it all in; meanwhile, Ethel had sat down and was already setting up the chessboard.
“Why did we have to come all the way out here to play?” Lily asked finally.
“You’ll see,” said Ethel. “Take a seat.”
Lily did as instructed and the two girls sat at either side of the arranged chessboard. Ethel was now flicking through her chess book for a particular page.
“Here we go,” she said.
She found her page and looked up at Lily.
“I’m going to show you a famous game of chess. I want you to picture the game happening out in that farm. I’m going to walk you through it step by step.”
Ethel went on to describe the chess battle one move at a time. She wasn’t just saying what the moves were though. She was telling a story. Lily was beyond fascinated. As she looked out over the open farmland, she saw it all.
“And then the white player began their flank, going heavy on the left side. The black player responded by tucking away their king in the far corner, protecting him behind his army.”
It went on with twists and turns.
“The black player then counters and launches a new attack out of nowhere. The white player isn’t ready and has to scramble back to defend.”
The battle went on. Lily was enthralled.
Finally, the battle eventually ended.
Lily looked up at Ethel. “Can you teach me?”
Ethel smiled. “Of course.”
Thanks for reading!