The warriors arrive; the intrigue begins; a game is won
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Aureliana called it fidchell. She carried the board with her everywhere. It had belonged to her father. It was a British game, she asserted proudly, played by royalty and even the old gods. The four of them – Germanus, Lupus, Drustans and Aureliana – would wile away the evening playing it. Drustans looked indifferent; Lupus apprehensive; Germanus nonchalant; Aureliana enthusiastic. The three males all agreed, nonetheless, to play the game if only to keep the Queen quiet.

Lupus was the first to go, pitted against Aureliana, who set out a wooden board divided up as a grid into seven squares by seven and on which there were two sets of pieces at opposing sides. In the centre of the two sets of wooden ‘men’ was a ‘king’, who had to be protected against attack from the oppo...

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