The Game That Never Ends, Part Twelve

   The Era of the Bishop

   The Bishop piece showed his devoutness early in his premiership. He carefully grabbed everything about him and grasped most tightly.

   The Bishop piece accepted fealty from the Knight. He witheld salvation from the Queen to bend her subjects to his will. When the Bishop piece and the Knight joined hands, they united a KIngdom that cut through the Wheat and Corn pieces to the Mountain pieces and down to the sea where the Fish spouted his disgust at the turn of events.

   "Why do I need you daughter now?" asked the Fish of the Queen. "Your ignorant countrymen bow to the Bishop. I can’t climb to the Mountain Kingdom. What good is our alliance?"

   "Time, patience, time, be as passive as the ocean surface on a calm day and boil with life beneath," the Queen counseled. "The Bishop will overstep himself. You will see."

   Privately, she seethed with fresh indignation. Just when the Mountain and Sea came to her bed, the Old-King, her husband, chose to die, leaving a hazy bequest because they had never had a son. The BIshop, last confidant of the Old-King, held the throne now as Regent, waiting for a male "heir" to appear; a cousin, or a nephew. No one appeared, though, for the Bishop and the Knight made sure.

   The Bishop ruled as Regent instead.

   "In my KIngdom, in my place, on my throne," the Queen fumed.

   The Bishop was a pragmatic piece. Religion ruled the day for the pieces of the various Kingdoms needed some relief from the sheer, crushing burden of their life load. In worship, at least then, the masses could find release in control over their god-images. A better life was coming.

   The Bishop pulled all the other pieces in tightly to him. He closed the board-shield, limited movement and tightened control.

   "Religious pieces wander if allowed to experience other views," he told his acolytes.

   "Keep the peasant pieces in place with piety," he concluded his sermon.

   Pieces proceeded from the Bishop place just beyond the borders of the Old-Kingdom. They turned back to face the way they had come.

   Too late the Peasant pieces, the few who dared look up, decided the movement of the Priest pieces.

   "They are there to keep us in," they murmured to one another.

   "We are servants to a new empire," they realized.

   "Not servants, no," one said. "We are slaves."

   The Bishop showed his devoutness early. He screwed down the system of beliefs. He taught a pure, binding doctrine, with his word as Imperium.

   "This is good for their souls, poor things," he told the Knight.

   Apparently, he did not think of his own soul.

   More and more flowed into the Temple of the Bishop. Soon, the Bishop piece had morphed into something giant, bloated, unrecognizable. Events overtook him. He came to equate his great wealth with success.

   "If the Master of the Board-Shield loved them as He does me," he often thought now, "they would be as rich as me. They must have erred grievously to bring this pain down on them."

   He could not see he was the source of their pain.

   The Knight did not so much care about their pain but he did wonder why he had to wait until the Bishop meted out rewards to him and his army. The Knight’s anger grew with his envy.

   "The Bishop sleeps in a palace, I on a hard ground with my men," he told his allies. "I think the Bishop may rule our armies with his threats of the after life."

   "What shall we do?" they needed to know.

   "Consult the Oracles," the Knight said. "I will cast the bones tonight and tell you in the morning what they Board Master says."

   They left.

   The Knight opened the case in which he kept the bones of a Dragon-Piece. He kept the breast bone of the dragon for its might and the brain case for its wisdom.

   He cast them on the carpet of his tent.

    "Death in the Temple," he smiled to himself. He had no idea how to read the bones. The Oracles were nothing more to him than the Bishop. He had neither religion nor superstition. He was a secular peice.

   "I will securlarize the great possessions of the Bishop," he told himself. "I will take from the rich and give to the poor."

   "At least," he thought, "I will give some of the riches to the poor. There are so many of them."

   A new war was about to begin.


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