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The Fallen Piece

by

Daniel W. Kneip

The battlefield stench crawled wretchedly over the land where the brave battled and the weak fell prey to the cunning mind. A seething grey smoke billowed up, up from the great ruins of a torn castle on the eastern field. Ghosts of men slain and broken wandered impotently. Such was war.

The last true knight, once wildly infallible, now weary and anguished from a long, bitter fight, attached his final piece of armor, which was actually a metal clip to go over his remaining tooth. Then he mounted his black steed with the weight of sorrow and metal heavy on his back.

Determined from the outset, the knight possessed a keen stealth under the novice majesty. He swore to defend and fight and die for his King.

He offered one final look back at his Queen, who could not save him, although she desperately tried in vain. And she had the headache to prove it!

"And the blisters on thine royal feet," she bemoaned, "from running all over the place! Trying to cover him and guard against this and guard against that and attack here and attack there and be in nine different places all at the same time! The incompetence! I swear Iím just ready for a hot bubble bath! Kingdom be damned!"

Even the Queenís position was suspect. Enemy pawns engaged her from two sides that they might strike her down given the opportunity. She could retreat behind her forces unscathed, the precept of safety, though she was tethered from protecting her brave knight. "Iím sorry," she cried out to him. Then her eyes stole over to the bishop, who reclined in a modest nook of the kingdom.

The high priest, commonly a pilot to Heavenís porch, had recoiled, almost foolishly, from his post the way bishops often do, leaving the knight wholly unprotected.

With a long face and two vile eyes, the bishop brushed off the suggestion that his retreat was purposeful. "And I would do it again, too! Both my rank among the kingdom and my oath to save my king must not be saddled by any imposed duty to protect a knight or any lesser being. I have merely a staff to fight with. He gets a horse and heís STILL not happy! Not my fault. Anyway, whatís done is done. It lies in higher hands now."

A cold, dark shadow slinked forward and befell the knight as the sun ducked ever behind the great enemy castle.

Flags waved victoriously, the army aboard cheered with a strange hunger for blood, and the castle eaves were fully mounted and readied for attack.

The knight reviewed his position once again, an undying will to fight burning inside him. He jerked hard on the horseís reigns in search of an exit. To his left! To his right! Nothing! He slashed his whip down on the hide of the animal, forcing it to circle into safetyís direction. But no such escape could be found. And the horse, a bit frustrated, arced his head around and said, "Look, take it easy with that whip, man! Iím not THRILLED about this either, but at least Iím not panicking! One must keep oneís wits in the face of such demise! Who knows, maybe theyíll miss!"

Wishful thinking from a horse.

Atop the castle, a thick row of cannons were pushed into place, wheels clamped tight. Only a light murmur rang from the enemy army as they peered down at the silent knight who was but a dot on the field, yet hardly insignificant.

Burdened with the loss of yet another man, and seeing the opposition closing in all around his kingdom to seal itís fate, the King decreed one final moment of respect for the good knight.

"This is not a sacrifice," he recited loudly from a note previously scribed for such an occasion. "I regret my army has been obliterated and the unconscionable enemy has encroached upon my land. They have seized upon every dirty trick imaginable to thwart my success and take down my kingdom. Furthermore, I have no back-up plan! Yet, know this and know this well: this warrior knight has been brave and true and we shall miss him and his horse. Both served savagely!"

This was all true. And the horse felt pleased to at least get a mention from the King. And upon hearing these mighty words of surrender, the knight, a tempest of emotion, relinquished his soul.

The enemy castle moved forward. With twenty cannons aimed and drawn, their wicks were lit on command, and the barrels blasted angrily and shot their hatred down, down at the brave knight and his horse!

And they were decimated on the spot!

Rook takes Knight. Rook to A-4. Checkmate.

A very smooth move.

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