Disclaimer: I do not own The Saga of Darren Shan or The Demonata. Both belong to Darren Shan.

The Devil Played Chess
By Silver Sailor Ganymede

The darkness was wrapped around the graveyard like a funeral shroud around a body: the moon was new and so only the faint light of the stars, pinpricks of silver on a black velvet sky, shed any light that night. The frost on the grass was not visible to human eyes: indeed neither were the graves, mausoleums or any other feature of the graveyard, but the one man who stood there at that time was not a human. No, he most certainly wasn't a human, but one could never have guessed that just by looking. In fact he appeared to be no more than a normal person, a grandfather-type if you will: of course almost nothing could have been further from the truth.

He glanced quickly down at something held in his hand. It was a heart-shaped watch and emitted a glow eerily reminiscent of blood. He swung the watch from side to side, a smirk growing on his face as he watched. He chuckled slightly for a moment, his laugh so normal compared to his malice-filled eyes that that in itself was terrifying.

He grasped the watch in his hand and put it away, then looked up as if scanning the graveyard in search of someone. Soon enough he seemed to have found whom, or rather what, he was looking for. He began to walk towards a mausoleum, the frost-laced grass crunching under his feet as he walked. He reached his destination, an ancient thing covered in tendrils of ivy that looked as though it would collapse as soon as anyone touched it. The man didn't seem to notice that, and if he did he didn't care. He pushed the door: it opened and revealed a scene that looked as though the very bowls of Hell itself had ascended to Earth.

The man did not seem phased by this: he simply rolled his stony eyes and stepped inside, letting the door swing shut behind him. He quickly scanned the scene around him, the blood-like substances that stained the floor, the dim red light that was emitted from nowhere and the cobwebs that had replaced the walls and seemed to stretch out into infinity. Around the room, one in each corner and one in the center, stood five chess boards, items that looked strangely out of place in the ascended Hell: at least until one looked closer and took note of the fact that all five were carved from bone: human bones for human figures that were forever entrapped in agony. The chessboards, however, were made far less frightening by the man who was seated behind the central board: if indeed it was a man, for it bore a resemblence closer to that of a Hell demon than a human, with it's mottled, blood-coloured skin and blazing, pupiless red eyes, and where its heart should have been, therein lay instead a coil of writhing snakes, their yellow eyes gleaming and their venom-laced fangs potruding from their mouths. Yes, it looked every inch to be a demon… and indeed that's what it was.

The demon opened its mouth and spoke in a man's voice, a deep and intensely mournful timbre.

"Desmond Tiny, you're late." He fixed his strange, red eyes on the man, Desmond Tiny, who simply laughed in response and took the seat opposite his companion.

"My dear Lord Loss, you should know by now that I am never late: I arrive exactly when I intend to," his voice was curt yet unwittingly laced with malice that even the demon could not rival, but then again no other demon could rival Desmond Tiny, the master of Destiny itself. Yes, no matter how easily he could pass for a human, Desomd Tiny was every inch a demon, and perhaps the worst nautred of them all.

Lord Loss shook his head slightly and said, "White goes first. It is your move."

Neither men moved from where they sat, but a white pawn advanced two spaces on the board in the far right corner. In what seemed almost no time the game was already in its advanced stages.

"The Devil played chess, you know, before he was banished from the mortal realm or anything to do with it," Desmond Tiny spoke as he turned over in his fingers a black knight that he had just captured. Its armour was dented, it's sword impaled through its own heart, blood running down it.

"The Devil?" Lord Loss questioned, capturing a white bishop.

"Yes, but he didn't play as we do now," Desmond Tiny continued. "He played chess with mortal lives, with human souls. We usually play for the prize of a soul, but he used them as nothing more than chess pieces."

"They are though," came the reply, "Mortals are nothing more than chess pieces in our games. Of course some of them realise that and it depresses them to such an extent that their sadness can become a feast to me."

Desmond Tiny shuddered; the thought of using human emotions as a life-source repulsed him. Such things should be found as a moment's pleasure then disguarded, not devoured: after all, what was the point of using things when they could be wasted?

"Still, what you just said makes me wonder," Lord Loss mused. "If the mortals are being used as chess pieces, then what makes us any different? Perhaps we are also nothing more than pawns in some greater scheme."

"But we aren't. There are none greater than we, the Demonata," came the reply, and a smirk came onto his face. "Checkmate."

The final king had fallen, but as to who had lost and who had won, neither took notice, and neither cared either way.