The Game That Never Ends, Part Eleven

In this blogsite, for now, I am telling the history of their world played out on the shield-board of antiquity by the wife and husband of the garden-village. The story started on November 26, 2007 and continues today. I thought to be done with it by now but it keeps telling itself. Enjoy, if you will.

Over at pastor’s pal, a companion blogsite, I have some fun(ny) stuff and some serious Advent devotionals. Enjoy over there as well, as more of you are doing.

     To get to pastor’s pal, click on this: http://aintsobad.typepad.com/pastorspal. It should take you right there.

The Game That Never Ends, Part Eleven

   They played with all their hearts and minds. The shield-board owned them now.

   They worshipped at the shield-board rather than in the garden. They were utterly cast out of their former life, self-exiles from the garden-village. Without their knowledge, the Game Master was telling others of their betrayal.

   The husband and the wife would not have cared. They had their shield-board.

   "I am winning," the wife thought and wondered fitfully how this made her husband feel.

   "She is running ring around me," the husband worried. "I must break out of this circle."

   He had a zig-zag streak of genius for maneuver, he realized, and used it for his immediate advantage. The husband took his Knight piece out of position, sent him riding for the outer reaches of the oval board-shield and let the Knight caroom off the edges of the shield-board.

   Concerned for her line of supply, the wife removed some pieces and put her Queen at the head of the relief force. They moved through the sheaves of the Wheat and Corn pieces, raising a fuss and destroying some crops. They could not force the Knight to fight them head on. They tried desperately to contain his movements.

   Meanwhile, the husband moved with his left hand. He took his Priest cum Bishop over to the Queen’s husband, occuping the same space on the shield-board with him. The King, now the Old-King, leaned over his staff, while the Priest-Bishop whispered in his ear.

   "You are about to go on your last journey," the Priest-Bishop told the Old-King. "I will guide you."

   The Old-King believed. The Queen had ignored the spirit world. Now she would pay the price.

   Damaged politically at home and harrassed by the Knight’s machinations, the Queen was in dire straits. She hurried home with part of her army to bolster her place with the Old-King, leaving a demoralized army far from home behind her.

   The Knight struck now with full force. He massed all his forces, stripped all reserves and threw himself on the Queen’s army at a place of his choosing. The Knight took the straight line of conquest. Smashing the center of the Queen’s split force, he drove them cruelly back toward the Wheat and Corn Kingdoms.

   He had sent out flanking pincers on each side of battle, giving them time to move undetected along the lines of retreat. They met just in rear of the Queen’s retreating forces and cut them down so thoroughly they disappeared from the shield-board.

   Now, the husband’s Bishop held the Queen’s home and his Knight held her fields. Cut down politically and commercially, the Queen was watching all her plans go to shambles.

   Desperate, she rattled around the shield-board, seeking new allies or the restoration of old ones. Some were scornful, some polite but all proved content to wait out the next moves before they cast their lot with the Bishop of Old-King or the fallen Queen-wife.

   "I am losing," she thought. "What shall I do?"

   She sent smiling emissaries to the Knight and reverent messengers to the Bishop. To the Knight she offered alliances, riches, new enemies for the conquering. To the Bishop of Old-King she offered her soul.

   Neither was buying at the moment.

   A man, practical and short-sighted, might have stopped at that moment. A woman, fiery and life giving, would not stop.

   The wife looked for a way.

   On the shield-board, she could see, the Knight had overextended himself, as is the custom with conquerors. He took the Corn and Wheat Kingdoms far from his home place. He left a string of Soldier-Pawns behind him busily building Fort Pieces named for fallen warriors at strategic locations.

   The conqueror Knight was now the occupier. He found himself lost in a thousand details of administration, none to his liking.

   In addition, the Knight found himself in a land where no one wanted him. The locals formed into guerilla bands. One day they flew white flags of surrender. In the dark times on the shield-board, they decided the timing and number of casualties for the occupiers. Back home, the increasing loss of life demoralized the non-combatants in the Knight’s homeland.

   In her home, the Queen watched the Bishop overextend himself in greed. He had come to do good and stayed to do well. Riches flowed to him from the common pieces. His treasury grew fat, while the common pieces fell into deep poverty.

   The Knight could hold his place in a grain rich Kingdom but he lacked the strength for another all out campaign against the Queen. The Bishop held the riches but lacked an army of his own. Untrustful of each other, the Knight kept the Bishop from recruiting an army of real power, while the Bishop threatened to condemn forever any who would aid the Knight.

   "I can use this time to find allies," the wife thought.

   "I have saved my position," the husband decided. "Now, how can I hold it?"

   He thought to use an Assassain Piece to poison the Bishop, whom he had come to mistrust. This would create a vacuum of power in the Queen’s home place and might faciliate her return to prominence there.

   He could recall the Knight, or move him off for another circling move, but that would leave the Wheat and Corn regions open to attack from other growing powers on the shield-board.

   "I wish I were back in the garden-village with the Spirit Guide," the husband thought.

  "I wonder if I have lost my husband?" the wife worried to herself.

   Neither spoke to the other.

   On the shield-board, the Queen had looked to what she had left for her salvation. Some of those in her old Kingdom still reverenced her. She had a claim to the throne. She had a large army, loyal to her cause but increasingly strained. She had to move before her army cracked and her subjects despaired.

   And, she had daughters. She had beautiful Daugher-Princess Pieces. She had seven, each one more lovely than the first one.

   She had daughters, part of a throne and an army.

   She approached the Fish piece. He was the navy of another Kingdom but he needed an army to make his power work on land. He would take her first daughter as his third wife for the Fish would marry only for power. With him, the Queen could harrass the lines of the Knight and the treasure ships of the Bishop.

   She sent a second daugher to the Mountain Piece. The Mountain Piece took her and demanded two more. He too understood power. He would take the first to wife and the others to hostage.

   The Queen sent him three daughters without thought. One died along the way, of despair. Another entered into despair broken only by occassional religious rantings. The other became vassal wife to the Mountain Piece.

   Now, the Queen cut off the lofty passes from the Knight and the monastery-foundaries of weaponry for the Bishop. She had a start.

   The other three daughters she kept to herself for a long time, hinting to one suitor he might gain a place with her, then to another thats he preferred him, but withholding from all the last virgin prizes she had to offer.

   Her army tripled. Her navies controlled the seas. She had the high places.

    Meanwhile, the Knight was strained thin in the Wheat and Corn Kingdoms. Harrassed heavily by paryisans, threatened by the Queen’s growing strength, bereft again of the possibility of manuever by his prior conquests, he found it more difficult to maintain than to conquer.

   "I am losing again," the husband thought. "I have fewer riches, fewer soldiers, no moral power."

   "I am winning the game," his wife thought. "I am giving up everything to hold my place. I don’t even care for my children on the shield-board."

   They were caught in a trap of their own making. They had left the garden-village in all but body. Now, snared in moves they could no longer control, the husband and wife could only bear the strain and live to fight another day.

   "I am tired," he finally said.

   "I am tired," she said, though she could have played longer. She could see he needed a rest and took pity on him.

   They slept, without eating, side by side but with distance between their bodies. The position was similar to their old life but the distance was new. They would not bridge the gap often again.When they did, the reconciliation was only temporary.

   While they slept the shield-board held its oval shape and colors. The pieces, however, seemed to be moving still, from the momentum of the previous day. Battles were fought, crops were burned, women were outraged, children died of disease and starvation. Flags flew on lofty heights. Meetings were held and plans were laid.

   And the Old King died. His piece disappeared from the shield-board.

   In his place, the Bishop asserted his hold over the Old-Kingdom.

   The era of the Bishop had now begun. To this, they would awaken.

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