My nature has eight aspects:
earth, water, fire, wind, space,
and individuality. –The Bhagavad-Gita
For they played chess, and they took his pieces, and he took theirs, and the while they talked of many things. The little men in their dark suits and queer glasses were wide-travelled and long-memoried; he was learned, in the fashion of his time, which ran to numbers and the how of things.
The smoke coiled around him like a friendly cat, and he spoke of the manipulation of integers, and how to square a number you first pass to a larger realm, but one like this one. On the other side of the chessboard the men nodded, and one of them reached forward and moved the small ivory knight, the eyes of his meerschaum pipe red and devilish.
While he sat and thought, pondering the position of the game, the men told him tales out of their long history, of dusty, forgotten markets, of martyrs buried in potter’s fields, of the long work and the quiet, of the treasure of the Gnoles. Their glasses caught the light and held it, green-tinted. He sighed, and moved his king’s bishop. The game went on.