Special notes -1. Annoying Chess related mambo-jumbos.
2. It's not historical fiction. The story doesn't follow any real historical incident. The Dukedom of franks and Brittany were created in 736 AD.
Just used those names. So, don't chew the history gum.
“It doesn’t count if you’re already planning your defeat.”
"Not at all. I've learned from the war of the northern gates last year, the first move is the most important one."
"I see. But don't forget, your time is running out."
The hourglass is losing sand with a subtle sizzle, reminding everyone in the tent, especially The Princess of the kingdom of France, time is out of joint. It's Black's move.
Soon she played 'e6' moving the pawn with her slender fingers.
"Ah, finally!" The opposition exclaimed playing 'e4' himself.
"d5" She mumbled moving accordingly.
"Oh, the French defense, isn't itP0p?"
"Your majesty expected anything else?"
"No, what else can you do? However, this defense won't last long." He at once grabbed the pawn with exd5, creating pressure in the center and forcing her to make a decision.
" We'll see. You better be prepared. A tornado is coming."
" You have no idea of the climate of your own land, do you? It's not even the season for a tornado."
The game went on.
"My lord!" A soldier hastened in the tent.
"What is it, Bahari?"
"We have successfully penetrated their frontal defensive lines."
"Oh! You heard that." The king said with a devilish smile on his face.
"The game isn't over yet."
"Soon it will be. Charge our cavalry through their right flanks. Destroy all the towers and March forward" He screamed driving one of his Knights forward on the board.
"Right away, your highness." The soldier swiftly departed.
"Soon your capital will fall, dear Princess."
"You play dirty. You used the business caravan to confuse us and made us attack. Then, assaulted our tents killing innocent people of my lands. How dare you? "
The Roman king smiled, "That's politics. You shouldn't be that hungry for the loot."
"But what's your gain? You suffered heavy losses too."
The king started to laugh lavishly, "Chess and war are alike. If you want to win, you must sacrifice pieces. It's not important how many pieces you have, the ultimate goal is to siege the king. As you can see, you are here. So attacking the king,'s tents was a success."
An awkward silence prevailed as the game went on.
"The caravan was a huge buck. A perfect loot. But,
But, How many innocent people I had killed? I don't know why. Now it's pointless to be sorry."
"How pathetic! You are just like your late father. Driven by pointless emotions."
"Don't bring him in this.", said the Princess with a flush of anger.
"Why won't I? He was such a coward. When the great king of the holy roman empire, my father, roared, your papa hid inside a mouse hole giving away one-fifth of his kingdom."
The princess remained silent and grabbed one of her Bishops tightly moving it to a different square, "Check!"
"You are no different. What a ridiculous way of creating pressure. You are giving away your miserable Bishop only to serve me a pointless check?" He captured the bishop with a pawn.
"This is a reminder for me of the honor of my late father."
The French camps on the battlefield. Hundreds of tents were erected here and there. Some archers had taken position on the towers to hunt enemies. Soldiers were marching in front of the camps relentlessly, shaking the ground with the impact of their boots and sending dust floating in the air. Some people were standing in front of the tents, surrounding a small four-legged table. The impression of thought is clear on everyone's face. The eyes are crooked, the gills are bent, the forehead is folded like 'hermits'.
"Your Majesty, are you sure?" Almati, a young French commander demonstrated his concerns with Duke's decision.
"Just do what I say. We need to get to the king's tent at any cost." The duke of the franks stated flatly.
" But this is like jumping into the hell."
"Do you have any better idea?"
"Yes, I do. Let's get back to the capital, reinforce troops, and prepare for a fresh assault."
"No, we're not. We are marching forward."
"I'm sorry to say it but, I think our Majesty only wants to save the princess." Almati murmured.
"How dare you?! Do you know I can order you to be executed at once?"
" I'm just telling the truth. But if this is an order, just say so. I will give away my life for your Highness."
The tent became calm for a while.
"We're capturing their camps "
"I'm waiting for your move." The king started being bored with an uncompetitive game.
The princess captures a knight with her queen.
The soldier from before once again entered the tent to interrupt them.
"Our frontal defense."
"Duke of the franks has attacked, frontal lines collapsing."
The king showed a sudden flush of fear but quickly replaced it with joy, "I see. No worries. Engage him with our left wings, if necessary, right wings. Give'em everything we have. And, after we neutralize his units, declare a prompt March towards their capital. I can't wait anymore. "
"Right away, sir." The soldier went away taking the orders.
The king giggled, "Heh! A queen sac! In the real war, I can't help it but on the board, I'm giving you a chance for taking back. Maybe you didn't intend to -"
"Concentrate on the board." Princess barked.
"As you wish." He captured the Queen with a pawn." Shame on you. The duke, madly in love with an ugly brat like you, will die before he could know it."
"You are a fool."
"You have displaced your pawn to capture my queen, but didn't notice, that was the only unit blocking my rook from penetrating your kingside."
"Heh," he closed his eyes only to burst them open again, " WHAT! Could that-" he slammed his fist on the table scattering all the pieces on the board.
"Yes. I'm not like my father. I used duke's emotions for me to my advantage. It was merely a Queen's Gambit.
Duke of Brittany is on his way rushing for this tent. And you can't stop him because you moved your pawn. Pawns can't return to the square it lefts."
" But you were lovers!"
" Correction. He loved the throne. He wanted to marry me for the throne. There's no love possible for Royal successors. That's the way it is."
"Oh, you bastard!" The king left his chair and started to walk all over the tent hysterically.
"Your Excellency!" The soldier entered the tent, terrified.
"What's the situation?"
"Duke of Brittany, breaking our right flanks!"
"How? What was commander Stefan doing? And the towers?"
"Your majesty, he left the position open pursuing the Duke of the franks and defeated him. Now marching towards the capital. But our archers couldn't withstand their artillery strikes."
"Idiots! It looks like the French army taking advantage of his absence and penetrated our weakened right flank."
"My lord, if your mourning is over, we may continue our little game here. Look, I've replaced all the pieces." The princess said with a grim smile.
"Aaah! You little arrogant brat! Do you think it's over? This game is far from over. Bahari, listen, send a messenger to commander Stefan, he will camp far from the capital. And wait his attack until receiving my orders. Understand?"
"Yes, my lord."
"And return here on an instant with ten guards and a stout horse."
"Right away, sir." Bahari departed.
" I'm done with chess. It's time to play Othello." The king went to a cornered desk and dragged out a pen and a rolled piece of paper and instantly began to write something.
"Our game isn't over yet." The disgruntled princess shouted.
"Oh, princess, princess, princess. You are still so young! Do you know what I like most about chess? There are traps everywhere. With every move, one of the sides gets a strategic advantage. If someone gets an advantage at the first move, the other will get the benefit from the second. Sometimes, you can get trapped by your own pieces too."
"What do you mean?"
Bahari entered the scene, "Your excellency! The horses are ready. And I sent a messenger to deliver your message."
"Coward! You are planning to flee?"
"Heh! I promise I'll make you eat those words. Bahari, take this." He flipped the rolled paper to the soldier.
The king, with a smirk on his face, swiftly whispered something in his trusted follower's ear.
"I-I- Understood my lord. I'll manage everything." Said Bahari storming out of the tent at once.
"Dear princess, it's time to teach you what is called politics. But just to be safe, I'll leave for now." saying so, he walked outside the tent swiftly.
"Coward," Princess mumbled herself. She was alone in the tent, shackles around her left wrist, locked with a pillar-like thing. Soon she proceeded to take back all the moves one by one on the board. Maybe trying to pinpoint any holes in her plan?
Before she could reach the starting position, Almati, with some guards quickly entered the vacant tent.
"Almati!", princess exclaimed. She knew he was supposed to be with her fake lover and ascending to the heavens with him right now, but saved her inquiries for a more suitable time, "What's the situation out there?"
"I don't feel the necessity of answering a traitor."
She fell from the sky, "What? What are you saying?"
"He is right." Duke of Brittany entered the scene with ordinary soldiers all around him, " We heard everything. You assassinated the duke of the franks only to gain a firmer grip on the throne."
"You knew, he is third to the line of power."
The princess was shocked but yet shouted, "You deserter! I know what's going on here. You received ransom from the Romans and selling the fortunes of France to them!?"
"Arrest her!" Almati ordered his fellow soldiers which they quickly obliged.
The shackles were removed. But it wasn't a sign of freedom. She felt ropes tightly wrapped around her feeble body. "You can't do this to me!" She cried out.
"Princess Diana, you are going to be imprisoned due to betraying the French people, insulting high official Nobles, and forcing war upon the peaceful empire of Rome." The duke explained with a smirk, "Take her away!"
She felt heavy drives behind her back. The men she trusted the most abandoned her. "Wait." She said calmly. As the soldiers stopped, she looked back at the duke directly in his eyes, "I'll make sure you pay for this. The people of France will never forgive you. And Almati, I don't know how you survived even after the duke of the franks died. Could that mean....."
"Take her away!" Almati shouted to prevent any further questions.
The bright sun had been devoured by the darkness of night. Princess Diana was sauntering hysterically inside the small temporary prison she was in. She knew she's inside one of the tents of the traitor Duke, but couldn't think of a way to contact her allies outside the border.
Suddenly she heard some rumbling outside the tent. She heard the screams of dying people ." what's going on?"
" Your Highness!" A masked soldier entered the tent.
"Who is it?"
"I'm Jack. Under commander Almaty's command."
"What does he wants now? I'm not falling for any cheap tricks of him." She said roughly.
"No, your Excellency, I'm not working with that traitor." The soldier removed the mask from his face. Now, the princess could recognize him. He is the one who saved her in the bad times of 'the war of the northern gates'. In that very war, she lost her father and the kingdom lost one-fifth of its territory.
"Almati wants to help the duke of Brittany ride the throne with the help of our enemies. We won't tolerate their conspiracy. We vow to free our princess and spoil their plot."
Diana got back her wisdom, "What is the situation?"
"Duke of Brittany rebelled against the throne. A civil war is crawling towards us. The Roman king withdrew his troops and signed a ceasefire with him. Now the king will assist the rebels to take over the throne in a return for a fair ransom. "
"Roman empire fooled that bastard of Brittany. He wants us to fight each other. He will only give artillery support and when we will weaken our overall state defense biting our own hands, he'll call for a march directly taking over our capital. Have the king met Duke in person?"
"No. We have information that he already went back."
"I knew it. He doesn't trust him. So, he did flee back then." She said to herself. She fixed her gaze upon the soldier standing in front of her, "Jack, so, this is the end? "
"Your Highness please don't worry. Almost a thousand soldiers work under my sword. I'm not alone, several other captains don't intend to brace the rebels. If you just wave your finger, we all are prepared to massacre the traitors at once."
"No. That will harm ourselves in the long run. Romans are the main problem here. The king has planned for a powerful strike, that's why every one of them has joined; the governor of Bohemia, the king of Italy; everyone. I've heard they took this battle way too seriously. "
"Orders, your Excellency. "
"I want you to deliver my message to my friends in Poland and Hungary. They will overwhelm Roman border areas with flash attacks. In absence of their governors, they will lack confidence in fighting back properly. Bring me the draft, I'll sign."
"But the Royal stamp-"
"I always keep the royal emblem with me in my locket."
"Right, " he proceeded to break the lock.
"No, I'm not leaving."
"I need to be in here to monitor the situation. You will wait and only attack after receiving my words. Try to contact the governors of the inner states of France for help. Driving away the Romans is our primary objective."
"As you wish, your highness." He promptly left the tent.
Diana sat on the only tool in that prison leaning back on the iron rods.
"I know why Jack and others want to help me now. After the game is over, they'll press me for promotion." A small smile filled her dry lips as she remembered how she was pressed to promote Eliah, late duke of the franks from an ordinary commander to a Royal ruler last time. No one told her to do so. But still, she was pressed. She knew Eliah wasn't a Royal descendant, but still, she had to do it.
"Let's see how the game progresses."
A small- dull, but steady fire lit in her eyes, " Playing the French defense, I have many lines to play. It doesn't have a shape of its own. It's like water. Me, morphing tactics according to my opponent's moves, and will emerge victorious in the end."