“Now don’t move,” rumbled Gary. Gary had been looking forward to this match for weeks, and he didn’t want a mere pawn ruining his strategy because it couldn’t be relied upon. He placed the miserable looking little goblin down upon the board, holding it by its dirty tunic between two of his sharp black talons. A waft of smoke drifted lazily from his nostrils as he looked up at his opponent. “Your move, Alan.”

Alan smiled. “Quite gracious of you, Gary. Your wings are looking well, and I see your mound of riches has increased. Been out raiding, have you?” Alan made these comments as he scanned the chessboard, searching for his knight. Alan’s pieces were better looking, in his opinion. They had voluntarily joined the giant, as Alan had struck a bargain with their township for protection and made good on his end of the deal on many an occasion. In return, they provided him will good land for hunting and herding, and occasionally would indulge him in these little games with Gary.

Gary considered himself to be the last of the “civilized” dragons, He still behaved by a certain code that sought to put limits upon raiding and hunting capacity. It managed to keep things relatively peaceful and stable for all the kingdom’s populace. That didn’t mean that all the inhabitants appreciated the code, however. Gary couldn’t help but notice some of the angry glares he received from Alan’s pieces.

“Yes. And judging by your bishop’s gaze, he doesn’t approve of the ceremonial items on display.”

Alan nodded. “Anger can be a strong motivator. However, that’s not why my men are here.” The giant placed his knight, then ceded control of the board to Gary. The dragon considered his friend’s bearded, bald countenance for a moment before scanning his pieces again.

“I see,” said Gary, shifting his weight. “Why do you suppose that your pieces have agreed to come with you?”

“Gratitude, and to a certain extent loyalty,” replied Alan. “I find that those are very strong motivators.”

“Noble sentiments, to be sure.” The dragon moved his rook forward. “I find that fear is a very worthwhile motivator for my pieces. These goblins know that I would have eaten them, had they refused to play for me.”

Alan thought as he sought his queen. “Fear and hatred will work for a while, but as soon as the fear or hatred is gone so is the resolve. A group built upon hate and fear cannot exist in their absence.” He moved the queen into the perfect position. “Checkmate.”

Gary’s eyes widened as he saw the trap Alan had laid for him. There was no getting out of it. He chuckled darkly to himself. “Well, there is one advantage to my method,” Gary said.

“What’s that?” Asked Alan.

“They’re not surprised when I do this.” In a fluid motion, the red dragon snapped his head downward and devoured his king piece in one gulp.

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