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The afternoon light intruded in Lord Chamberlain’s parlour through the clear windows, sparing no nook nor cranny in the room of the warmth the bright, February sun provided. A breeze gently touched the window, whispering a plea to be let in; while it had dropped below freezing outside, a toasty flame flickered and danced inside the Lord’s Hearth.

Enjoying the heated company, two younger gentlemen sat side-by-side at a mahogany table normally used to feast with large companies. The taller of the two, Lord Chamberlain himself, was focusing his entire attention at the box sitting in front of him. Similarly, Lord Rupert Callaghan was preoccupied with an identical box just within his reach.

“It’s quite the wonder,” Chamberlain boasted with a smile, “my feat. I do say you’ll have quite a difficulty besting me.”

Rupert quickly glanced over and scoffed: friendly, but competitive. “You say that like I’ve not bested you many a time before, old pal. It’s not uncommon for a younger man such as myself to exceed the skills of his elder.”

“Elder!” Chamberlain roared. “You’re not but three years younger than me, you old fool!”

“Yes, but they’ve made quite the difference in appearance, have they not?”

Both men smiled. It’d been many years since they’d met; far too many for either of them to remember. In fact, it was in this very room, when the Lord Callaghan was first introduced to His Company. They’d bonded over witty discourse over the years, and it never grew tiresome. Even in their old age, they participated in the younger generation’s back-and-forths from time to time.

“I’ve never understood your obsession with looks, Rupert, but I’ll surrender my retort on that remark.” With a smile, he added: “It’s a splendid feeling to win every once in a while, isn’t it?”

Callaghan didn’t respond. He was focused on the box again, and his friend took notice. After a bout of heckling, Chamberlain fell silent.

“Look,” Callaghan cheered, “I’ve done it! The spot is mine; good luck taking it back!”

Intent on keeping his high score, Chamberlain quickly returned to his own box and plotted the perfect trajectory for his first bird.

“Oh no,” Callaghan whispered, “that won’t do at all. That angle is all wrong!”

Chamberlain released pressure on the box, launching the digital bird into a stack of wood, toppling it and destroying everything underneath.

“One pig down, friend. That angle was perfect.”

He lined up for another shot, and Callaghan retorted: “Beginner’s luck!”

Another perfect shot. The word LOADING… flashed across the box before it was quickly replaced by a steadily increasing number.

“Impossible,” Rupert exclaimed. “On your first try? I’ve never seen a score so high!”

Smiling, Chamberlain pushed his box away and looked at his friend.

“I win again,” he said, “but we get a new bird in the next level, so maybe you’ll beat me.”

Lord Callaghan pushed his friend’s box back towards him and responded, “You’re on.”