Interlude: The Patron is the 2nd extra episode of The Chain. It aired on December 04, 2019.
Leech after giving a note from Judge to Angel, runs into a situation between a vanderman and an older lady, who were playing Sheer, a game close to chess. The woman’s eyes have milky clouds in them, and despite having the vanderman describe the board to her, she wins anyway. The man is angry at the woman, calling her a thief and a cheat. Leech tries his best to deescalate the situation and luckily members of the local guard notice the commotion and come help. When they realize that Leech bears the Prince’s seal, and is a member of The Chain, they believe his side of the story. They are thankful for leech and The Chain for what they are doing and state that with “war coming” they are happy The Chain carry the princes seal and are “on their side”
Afterwards the woman asks Leech to help her set up the game. They discuss its Kamaran origins. Suddenly, she stops talking, and the milky fluid in her eyes drains, and for a moment her brown eyes are visible, then she blinks, and her eyes turn solid sapphire.
In a different voice, she says “Fascinating game, these Terrans play, very similar to the game the gods play, but their pieces are infinitely variable. Do you play. Leech?”
“You know my name?” he asks. “Of course,” she responds, “I’ve known your name for a long time.”
Leech asks who she is, she can’t answer as its against “the rules”.
When Leech says he is unfamiliar with the game in front of them, she says, “I will play for both of us then. Very important, in situations like this, that we obey the rules. So far, I have managed not to break the rules. No… vulgar displays of power, no outright instructions, but we are allowed to choose our pieces. I know it’s been difficult for you, living in exile, but I’m afraid it’s going to get much worse. I chose you, all those years ago, because I wanted someone serving me in the senior command of The Chain of Acheron. You see, I chose you for a purpose, for the same reason I created the Sapphire Sky. this purpose… it’s the most important thing in the world, and as unlikely as it sounds, it depends in part, upon The Chain of Acheron.
“For thousands of years, I’ve known a moment was coming. A Battle. A battle between what is, and what cannot be. Now, this is a battle that has been fought several times, and every time our enemy wins, the board is wiped clean, and we have to start over; but this time I’m playing, I and some of my friends, and we intend to win. My friends have their pieces… I have you. Until now, I have watched and been pleased. It is very dangerous for me to act in any way, even this conversation takes... enormous effort to conceal. But I’ve been content to watch from afar; everything’s gone according to plan, until now. Something’s gone wrong, or it’s better to say that something unexpected has happened, and that’s very unusual for me. You see, I’ve been to a place which you call the future. In a sense, I’m there now, and it is not one place, but many places. And every place where this battle happens, there are victories and defeats, but in every instance, The Chain was led there by a man you call King. Now, there are many pieces on the board -- the Chain of Acheron is only one, led by a King I thought I knew how to play. But now, the Judge stands in his place. The judge is powerful, but less predictable -- not my playstyle, frankly. Usually I’d sacrifice a judge to save my king, but I have to play the board in front of me. Make do with the tools at hand. You see I still intend to win. So, within the boundaries of the rules, we’re going to play a game. I’m going to ask you questions and if you answer them correctly, we keep playing. It has to be you that comes up with the answers, you understand?”
“I do,” He responds.
“Opening move: when did you first start working closely with the senior command of the Chain of Acheron?” He answers during the underdark job.
“Very good, very good, here, let me,” and she moves one of his pieces. “Now, what was it The Chain was supposed to do down there?”
“Retrieving a crown from the lord of madness to return to the undead lawyer… we were retrieving the crown.”
The woman then asks how they recovered the crown, and Leech explains there foray into the Lord of Madness’s lair with Leech’s imp stealing the crown.
She asks who the imp stole the crown from, and he replies that it was stolen from the illusion of the dead husband of the dead lady, though he cannot remember the dead man’s name. She is disappointed in this answer being incomplete and Leech losses a piece.
She asks of Ringwell and its purpose, to which Leech replies its a place where powerful artifacts have been locked away to be kept from the wrong hands.
She asks of its most prominent features. Leech mentions its architecture and its circular design. The woman presses further on this issue and what makes it important and unique, apart from its architecture. Leech talks of its fortified wards, how hidden it is, of the history on its walls, of the fortified rooms, before being asked how it is guarded. His response to this is about the necrophage, the vampiric mists and other what he describes as “traps.”
She responds, “I’m sorry, ambush”, and moves her piece.
She then asks, “Are you free to move through Ringwell”. Leech says yes through the unlocked areas. She says, “What about the other areas, think carefully, are you free to move through Ringwell?”. Leech says no we have not opened every avenue.
“Are there avenues in ringwell,” she asks. “Doors, barriers,” he responds.
She responds positively moving his piece and saying “Counter ambush”.
When Leech is asked if all these rooms are alike, he explains no there are sealed doors. The lady asks what happens if you try to open it. Leech says he tried once and they had to fight their way through. When she asks what they had to fight, he describes fighting a “giant clock”.
She sighs happily, and says, “My son, my son, how far you’ve come. Now, we enter the endgame, this is the final move, think carefully, it will win or lose you the game: Who, or what, in your opinion, is the greatest threat to the Chain of Acheron right now?”
Leech responds, “There are many threats, the greatest right now.. Ajax” This isn’t specific enough for the woman. “That covers quite a lot, he has many allies, could you be more specific?”
Leech, after taking a pause, answers, “I am unsure. Ajax is a threat, yes he has many allies, but he is the greater threat to The Chain.”
The woman sighs sadly, reaches over to Leech’s side of the board and knocks over his king piece.
“I am sorry Leech, you were doing so well. I realize now I ask too much of you, too much of The Chain. It’s just that... I had so much hope for this world. There was strife, and pain and injustice, but there is beauty and love. I suppose Ket was right, but maybe not… maybe not. The real game has yet to begin.”
“If you knew the answer,” Leech asks, “what do you want from me?”
“Goodbye Leech,” she says, and the old woman’s eyeballs go from sapphire blue back to her normal brown, and then the milky film returns.
She thanks Leech for helping her, and offers him some muffins which she had baked for lunch, which he accepts.