1. c4

"Is this really necessary Mu?"

The crisp morning air over the mountains south of Qalabar carried with it the scents of dead lugians and impending trouble.  In a small secluded vale, the forces of two equally matched armies faced off against each other… no more than sixteen to a side, standing in tense battle-lines, staring each other down as they waited for the first move.  This was a war that nobody wanted (to read about), yet it seemed inevitable.

Mu, in his position near the back of his formation, smoothed the silvery white mattekar robe that was the uniform of his entire army as he turned to regard Jin Lee, obstensibly referred to as his "Queen", yet in truth merely a highly accomplished mage who could not resist the idea of an "event".

"Yes… that foul Tegehel has gone too far this time," he opined.  "For many months has he maneuvered secretly behind the guise of ‘artist to the gods’, whilst simultaneously having dealings with the accursed Virindi, who ply him with whispered promises of power, riches, and really really cool java for his dark page."  Mu almost spit out this last part, threatening to clog the eyelets of his white heaume.  "Fah… his slow-loading web design ends here.  Now."

Jin peered across the heads of the single line of infantry before her at the night-black host of the enemy.  "We are far too evenly matched… should we wait for backup?"

"No… there is no time.  This shall not be any mere gangbang this day, but an operation of subtlety and planning."  He raised his head to shout orders… "Infantry advance!"

But the infantry could not move, and the reason became clear soon enough as purple lights swirled about them.  Indeed, with the added pressure of approximately 723 lugian-cheesing idiots and a crowd of people doing nothing at the archmage’s tower, the dreaded portal storm threatened to consume them all.  "We must evacuate!" cried the Knight of the King.

"Stay those recall spells," ordered Mu, as he contemplated the situation.  "We shall have to move slowly towards our objective, lest we all be lagged out at a bad moment.  Everyone, you shall heed my instructions and otherwise hold your positions.  The forces of foul Tegehel shall not excape us this day!"

A lone infantryman in the front lines, his silifi glistening in the dawn, sighed with relief.  As one who was foolish enough to concentrate on melee, his death would have surely been swift should they be ordered to attack en masse, buying perhaps a spare second or two for the mages and archers behind him.  In his flanking position, directly in front of the master archer the Bishop of the Dark Squares, surely he would be spared the initial conflict…

"You there, axe guy, advance!"

The melee fighter gulped as Jin Lee turned to Mu.  "The English Opening?  That’s very… hypermodern… of you…" she quipped, barely restraining her original comment of "bloody stupid".  "Why not send in that fool with the cestus?" she remarked, indicating an obviously relieved soldier standing directly in front of the monarch.

"Uh… well, in a conflict such as this I feel we should be flanking and confusing the enemy, not merely charging straight ahead into a head to head battle."  explained Mu.

"Right.  You want to keep yourself safe," she snorted.  "Some King."

Mu ignored her as he repeated his order, sending the resigned axeman two steps forward to meet his fate, a mere pawn in this war…

—–

1. … h5

Meanwhile, across the battlefield, Lord Tegehel the Dark scrutinizes the horizon. A hand above his eyes wide shut, he seeks to understand the meaningless move of that armed peon afar. "Pass me the Loupe!, Galzathiel! for I cannot discern the symbols on that doomed and approaching pitiful excuse for a condottiere."

Glazathiel the Abscess, an obese Necromancer-bishop more interested in fattening food, fattening his Queen and obscene necrophilia, reluctantly rises from his padded, comfortable chair and considers, with an air of humane bestiality, the request of his mad King. "A loupe, my Lord?"

"Yes, yes, make haste, buffoon! I suspect a terrible fate is upon us. That white Knight bears an emblem that I recognize, it seems, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. "Hmm…I’ll outlandishly put a finger in it once dealt with" thought Glazathiel with an air of macabre contentment. "Furthermore," continues Tegehel, "I can’t see anything anyway, so for the last time, bring me my magnifying glass."

"Loupe". This is a term that Glazathiel never heard before. "Loupe", he cerebrates. "Sounds gay, and quite jovial indeed. Not a term that the tumultuous and aPollyanna Tegehel would employ to day.  Peculiar indeed, but  who cares? as long as I can feast horse’s testes in fine wine sauce…"

Glazathiel cedes the singular apparatus to his already fuming master, and rashly paces back towards his beloved chair, now occupied by Kranath the Malignant, the "other" bishop. "Fieri facias I demand for the loss of my chair, you iconoclastic anticlerical malevolant germ" shouts Glazathiel. "Up yours, fatso" gratuitously replies Kranath, while violently gesturing some occult obscenities to his baffled counterpart.

In the meantime, Tegehel the Dark was perusing the Knight, now aggrandized tenfold, and tried to focus his attention on the inscriptions of the Knight’s Axe. To his bitter dismay, all he could focus on was the aggrandized tenfold penis, now duly exposed, of that relieving man. Life seemed pointless for a few seconds, even to Tegehel the Dark, Despot extraordinaire whose daily pastime consists of pulverizing a random village, city or race; and whose next move was indeed temporarily interrupted by a giant dick on a smiling swaddy.

"Ut si!" thought Tegehel in Latin. "As if!". With an air of disgust and an ego quite bruised, the Dark Lord refocused his attention on the culprit in question. The imbecile was now smiling puerilely while adjusting his jewels. "This is too much!" thought the mighty Tyrant, "I shall order my archers to pincushion this human sore from the soul of this Earth…Archers! Arbalests! Catapults and Scorpions on my mark…"

At this very moment, an arousing feminine voice rose from behind the royal curtains, and with a charming, idyllic melody, Rosicrucia delivered her historical monologue : "Your face, my thane, is as a book where men May read strange matters. To beguile the time, Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye, Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower, But be the serpent under’t".

Tegehel : "huh?"

Rosicrucia : "Wangle or be wangled. Use ruse and treachery to win. Besides, we don’t have archery anyway, so you’re screwed."

Tegehel : "we don’t? aaheu…we don’t! I knew that…". "Devilish woman", thought Tegehel now positively aggrieved and obviously annoyed, but actively feigning to show it. Focusing yet again his seeing glasses towards the Knight-not-so-errant, the Dark Monarch was finally able to read the Alma Mater of the facing white army. "Here we go…hmmm… Vescere bracis meis. Latin? How idiosyncratic, how profound. What could that possibly mean? It certainly shows that my opponent is an educated man. All the better, I shall enjoy torturing him even more…"

Kranath was already consulting the Book of Armament, chapter 3 when Lord Tegehel caterwauled to decipher the cryptic inscription. Kranath read from the book: "And Saint Attila…no, that’s not it…let me see…Visceral, Vulpes…ah! Vescere yadda yadda…"

Kranath: "Sire, you’re not going to like it…"

Tegehel : "Well? Tell me before I fling to the rats in some dungeon…No, don’t tell me, let me guess….It is my old Nemesis Mu, isn’t it? AH! I knew it! I recognize the tasteless white accoutrement, the barbaric writing and the ignominious manners…YES! IT IS HE!, oh joy, oh joy, oh joy! I shall bestow my evil ways again and once and for all rid Dereth of this usurping traitor. Now, for a good laugh, prithee my black bishop, tell me the meaning of that undoubtedly intellectual sentence."

"Eat my shorts."

And thus started the bloody ovelong Achromatic War.

——

2. Nc3

"By the blazing balls of Bael’Zharon, what in the world…" Mu stared incredulously across the field, where a lone nekode-armed peon shuffled slowly forward on the far right.  "Some foul strategy is afoot, surely, else why would my opponent commit to such an apparently foolish plan of action?"

"Bafflement Other VI might have something to do with it," quipped Jin.

"No look… behind that peripheral pawn… it’s a wand monkey!"  Indeed, a solitary mage was now visible at the northeastern extreme of the vale, nervously fingering his telltale Wand of Black Fire, ready to unleash this most subtle and skill-intensive utilizatrion of War Magic upon the white host.

Jin scowled.  "Surely you’re not afraid at the presence of a wand monkey Mu?  Thanks to your rather craven opening play, the worst that might happen is that the fool makes it out onto the field early, at which point he would only be able to fry the little fighters in the front line."

"Why… that would be…" Mu searched for a word.  "… FUNNY!"  He chortled as he ordered Jin’s knight to speed into the fray.

——

2. … a5

"O thine horrid image doth unfix my hairbreadth" fumigated Tegehel while maladroitly readjusting his sheath to his oversized ill-tasted belt. He pointed the White Knight’s new position to his Queen who dismissed it with one swift, erotic gesture of her hips. The Dark Lord then turned to his Bishops but disregarded them rather hastily for there were, yet again. quarrelling about more nonsensical topics.  Finally, he summoned one of his Knight and master of strategical brute force, Ghar’arh, whose one and only intention was to rush headlong towards the opposite army and crush them "with one swift stroke".

"Thou hath more hair than wit, and more faults than hairs, and more wealth than faults" yelled Tegehel to the brainless mountain of muscle which ill-bore the name of Knight.

Tegehel sighed. He was alone indeed and saw in a clear instant of holistic vision that his defeat was infallible now. He had an army of eight semi-human peons whose wisdom was as deep as dead trouts’s and whose only course of action would be to charge ahead, always ahead. He was then flanked by an attractive and volatile Queen whose respect for the rules was rather anarchic: she would go anywhere she pleased as far as she would without any consideration for safety. Then, of course, two utterly unattractive Bishop who hated each other and whose fervent drunkenness would only allow them to trudge diagonally. In addition, a couple of unbrained yet powerful Knights whose preferred tactics were to swing their giant clubs at random, hitting Whites, Blacks and pretty much everything that would have the ill-fortune to be within radius; not to mention that after all this time, they still were unable to train their horses properly: straight and at the last minute, a rough turn right or left.

Hopefully, Tegehel knew that Mu would never flank him, for he relied profusely on those two enormous Stone Golems at each extremity of the terrain, Golems whose present shapes were one of huge and impressive towers. As long as those are under my spell and control, I shall prevent a flanking attack, for sure.

"That’s why I shall move them towards the center" thought the Dark Lord, in another extreme attack of antelogic. And Tegehel, although rather Chaotic and conspicuously Evil, kept deducing that victory lied in symmetry, and thus ordered his other extreme pawn to move in a parallel position.

——

3. d4

Mu shook his head sadly.  The Dark Host persisted in its self-weakening maneuvering, now advancing its infantry unprotected on the far left.  Yet, still… "I fear that the evil one may be planning some sort of far-fetched chicanery via these peripheral maneuvers," he mumbled.

Jin smacked him on the back of the head.  "You idiot!  Isn’t it obvious he doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing?"

"Sure, it looks like that," whined the ersatz commander, "but what if this is part of a larger plan?  To crush me from the flanks, and slowly work his way past my guards, until I find myself under assalut from all sides…"

Jin answered by kicking the soldier in front of her with a well-placed boot, sending him sprawling out into the middle of the battleground.

"Hey!"  exclaimed Mu.

"Look bozo, just get out there, command the center of this area, and crush him against those impassable too-steeply-sloped mountains to his back.  I don’t have all day, you know.  Besides…" she added, lightly stroking a fingertip under Mu’s heaume, "you won’t have to worry about his people working through me to get to you."

"Oh Jin, I knew I could count on…"

"That’s why I have Recall."

——

3. … Rh6

"I wish I could just teleport my entire army within hazardous radius from Mu and finish the battle with a bloody but O so lighthearted beheading. A cheerful charge, a pandemonium of chaos, something quick, I’m getting impatient…" was mumbling Teg, impatient.

Glazathiel the Abscess, Royal bishop and pain in the arse, was imbibing kegs of Youngberry Ale while stuffing himself with roasted Mosswart legs marinated in crude Drudge’s juice. In an repelling eruction, Glazathiel ordained that "all that is White is by its very nature Evil and thus need be eliminated with extreme prejudice". Fart.

Kranath the Malignant, Luxurious Bishop, was marinating in his lecherous Queen’s juice while crudely stuffing her in the arse. In a repelling erection, Kranath decreted that "all that is Evil is by its very nature White and thus need be eliminated with extreme predilection". Jack.

For once, they agreed on something, even if the very logic behind was indeed faulty to the extreme.  Then again, what to expect from such loathsome, repugnant, repulsive and revolting characters. The annihilation of the entire White Army would be worth it if only to remove from existence the very essence of the Cursed Black Bishops.

Tegehel thought that very thing too, but decided against it for at this point in time, he needed all the men he could get, and if those were to be vicious, treacherous and perfidious, all the better, as long as it was against the Mu.

The Mu, as he came to be called, was feared by Tegehel. Not the person itself per se, but by what he represented: all that Tegehel strived to be but failed miserably. Mu knew the tricks and magicks of Dereth, Mu knew how to command his army and keep them in line. Mu knew Latin and had a cool phrase carved on his soldier’s weapons, and above all, Mu had Jin Lee.

Jealousy will be my downfall, thought Teg. Unless…unless I eliminate my contender first. Let’s send in the Golems…

——

4. e4

"You see?  YOU SEE?!" cried Mu, as the distant, shambling mass of glistening obsidian lumbered forth from its spawn point, closing in on the white army.  "He has golems, damnit!"

"So what… golems, pfah," spat Jin, having dropped more than a few in her time.  "Load up some shockwave goodness and let ‘er rip."

"What a fascinating idea.  This strategy, of course, presumes that I have bothered to research the offensive magick in question."

"Mu you are the worst mage in all of Dereth," she cursed.  "How can you not know shockwave?  How did you manage to attain your high rank?"

"Ahem… as a master strategist, I used my guile and wits to down the encrusted behemoths, not through some mere brute application of…"

"Oh right… a wall licker," she chortled.  "Too bad for you the effective range of the dweomers of draining are shorter than they were back in the day.  Looks like you’re out of luck."

"What!"  Mu gaped.  "What do I have you here for anyway?"

She yawned.  "My mana is not to be wasted on such trivial nonsense as this.  Oh sure, send me out wandering around your oh-so-safe-self-preservation-oriented left flank formation for a few minutes, exposing me to impending doom all the way, so I can pick off a frigging golem."

Mu looked about helplessly.  "What about archers?"

"Well now that would be a good idea, except that your cowardly opening has planted a peon directly in the line of fire.  Just wait for an opening."

"Sir, if I may," said the remaining Knight, tapping Mu on the shoulder, "it is obvious that our opponent is rushing some of his most powerful forces into the middle of battle unsupported as of yet.  Perhaps if you took a more orthodox approach to tactical deployment, we could secure the center, divide his army, and thus bring ruin to whatever forces he eventually deigns to commit to any position of import."

"Meaning?" asked Mu, trying to maintain that self-assured air that indicated he had the slightest idea what the Knight was talking about.

"He means, stop being such a damn pussy," growled Jin, smacking the peon in front of Mu on the head with her wand, barking orders at him.

"Hey!" said Mu, forlornly watching the infantryman trudge forward on the field to join his comrades.

"Pfah, don’t worry so much Mu.  After all, that’s what that mattekar robe with a charm of Impenetrability is for."

"What a fascinating idea.  This strategy, of course, presumes that I have bothered to research…"

Jin tuned out the rest with a heavy sigh.

——

4. … g6

It was one of those days where deja-vus upon deja-vus swished annoyingly in front of Tegehel’s transpicuous eyes. Indeed, the last battle he fought was a bloody disaster and he became the laughing stock of whoever was left alive, which was pretty much the entire opposite army…his being totally disintegrated.

Mu’s tactic smells similar, Tegehel thought, as if his nose was trying to tell him something. Pointing at his enormous proboscis while turning around, he was poking it proudly while smiling exuberantly.  No one in his entourage ever figured out what exactly he meant by simpering rather stupidly and pointing at his slanted protuberance for he never muttered anything, however, HE knew. He remembered now: that same horizontal alignment of kneeling halberds and long pikes close to the middle ground, waiting for the opposite force’s cavalry to impale itself. Very clever, very treacherous, but so very "Swiss Mercenary". The Dark Lord would not fall for that one again, oh no!

"If only I had archers," sighed his Evilness, "I could take care of this upsetting matter right now and clear the middle ground for my concocted plan involving my heavy assaulting forces of Doom. Perhaps I could use Transmogrify Other IV and metamorphize my Bishops into Catapults, and…”

While Tegehel the Dark was thinking reconditely about bending the rules without having to bear with the enormous consequences (after all, winning is an honorable goal, no matter how you get there), Rosicrucia, his beloved Queen descried that one of the advanced reconnaissance unit, a wooden elf, was trying to crawl his way pass the contour of the battlefield on his way towards the back of the enemy lines. All was according to plan: she would win the game by herself by means of secrecy, subterfuge and treachery, bypassing her Lord and Master’s orders and sending an assassin to take Mu’s contemptible life.

All was perfect.

Wait a minute…an ELF?

Something was suddenly terribly, terribly wrong…

——

5. Nf3

Mu scowled across the battlefield at his enemy’s bizarre, seemingly self-defeating formations.  What was this to the right… a flanking maneuver?  In these constrained spaces?  Surely a feeble gesture, as the line had nowhere to retreat should misfortune befall them.  Then again, it might be possible that Tegehel had learned the mysteries of distant Norrath, where creatures apparently stormed hither and yon without respect for obstacles, natural or man-made, suspending all sense of realism.

His beard itched.  He did not dare to remove his silver heaume to attend to this problem, though not out of the fear of an enemy quarrel speeding its way to his forehead, but rather out of embarassment.  Mu’s beard, like that of so many Sho males, was not rightfully a "beard" per se, but rather a loose agglomeration of patches of sparse, wiry fur, annoying to deal with and humorous to behold.  It was for this reason and this reason alone that the heavy metallic mask remained in place most of the time, except at purely social functions, when Mu deigned to use the razor, which usually resulted in a number of superficial incisions on his countenance which he attempted to explain away as the results of combat.  Nobody believed him.

"Looks like the enemy thinks to creep up on the king’s side… that would be yours," said Jin, poking Mu in the ribs.

"I see it, I see it…"

"Perfect opportunity to switch the focus of your attack on the opposite flank.  I think the Bishop of the Light Squares seems ready for action…"  A stifled chuckle rippled through some of the more courtly officers, which Jin patently ignored.  Even if there were some truth to the rumors of impropriety between herself and Mu’s right-hand man, none dared speak of it openly for fear of the matriarch’s wrath, a combination of tense gossip, moral ambiguity and, above all, fear which seemed to suit her personality perfectly, and which she allowed to maintain itself for her own private amusement.

Instead of unleashing the archer, Mu signalled to the bloodthirsy knight next to him, who fairly leapt over the heads of the surprised infantry in front of him to occupy his new position, staring down the enemy’s peons creeping slowly toward his position.

"Bleah, what the…" excalimed Jin.

"Ah, let me explain…" started Mu.  "Not only am I allowing an outlet for that man’s rage and eagerness for slaughter, but hopefully this will make the enemy hesitate before sending more fodder down that way…"

"Right right… hmm, I can’t help but notice that this seems to leave you an avenue of escape.  Preparing your own little castle?"

"Discretion, as they say…" The argument over the difference between discretion and cravenness continued for some time, and neither of the quarreling mages noticed the squeak of wooden wheels as a pointy-haired caricature slowly made its way through the deep grass on the outskirts of the battle…

——

5. … Bg7

"My liege, I have information that could turn the outcome of this battle to our advantage!" murmured Rosicrucia, controlling her premature excitement.

"Hmmm…Is that so?" responded pensively a more-than-unemphatic Tegehel who was preoccupied by Mu’s erstwhile brute advance in the middle of the battlefield. The Dark Lord didn’t expect his White counterpart to send any elite troops so early in the engagement. The middle ground was already occupied by a handful of boozehounds, which was in effect not scary, but what seemed to annoy Teg the most was the approach of two of Mu’s strongest warmongers: a couple of strong White-Knights-on-Shiny-Horses™. Tegehel never liked horses…

"Mu has a beard!" said Rosicrucia, sharply.

"What?" replied Tegehel more than flabbergasted. "Wha…what it Heck’s name are you talking about, and why in Hell should I care? I have more important harmful strategies and pernicious tactics to discuss with my…sigh…advisors than to listen to your confabulations about Mu’s hairy protrusions. I swear, Woman, you’ll never understand the metier of War and all its intricacies…Leave us at once!"

While the entire Black army was looking back at their Queen with an air of discomfiture and embarrassment, mocking her surreptitiously, Tegehel abruptly stopped everything he was doing and turn ever-so-slightly towards his queen.

"Rosicrucia…my Dear", grinned Tegehel "Prithee explain me how doest thou happen to know that Mu wears a beard? Even with the help of my favorite Loupe, I cannot see that far, for all I was able to discern was is White helmet, and that was the size of a pinhead. Surely, no one can espy him at this distance without any magnifying tools or devilicious machinery"

The Black Queen smiled and walked pragmatically towards her Lord’s battle-table where hand-made maps and questionable schematics were spread and messily piled up. She pushed aside Glazathiel-the-Abscess with a knee rather well placed while inserting her elbow in Sir Lustalot’s nose, the second Knight. The entire Black army went suddenly silent, most of them looking away with an air of painful empathy for their superiors now on their knees, bleeding.

“It’s simple, my Lord, really. I have found hidden grimoires and old tomes of the Black Arts and have managed to decipher the secret of the Shadow World and its autochthons. The world is parallel to ours in many ways but their physical planes are not intertwined like ours; Indeed, they cannot cross boundaries easily and that is why we never see them in Dereth. But at dawn, when the world is asleep still, one can sometimes peruse their hideous shapes in the shadows beyond time and space.”

“I see…I…understand…” pretended Tegehel who really didn’t get one word she said, but who wanted to be on her good side to avoid an unexpected elbow or worse, a flying knee.

“This is fascinating indeed, My Lady. Tell me, what is the name of that hidden world and what could we potentially steal from it?” asked the Dark Lord with high hopes and nil comprehension.

“T’is the Kingdom of the Dead, also known as Ever-Rest, in the dreaded land of Doh’rrath. T’is the place where the dead repose, haunting the underworld till the end of times.”

“Heh, they should call it Borrath, ” chuckled Tegehel, proud of his pathetic joke. “ because, you know, the dead would be, like, bored to death…ahah…get it? Bore-rath? Yes?”

Silence.

“Anyway” continued the Black Queen, “I managed to communicate with those shapes, tortuous forms from “the other side” and managed to convince one of them, an Elf, to work for us, as a spy.  There is nothing they can do in the physical world per se but to report what they see and comprehend. An informer behind the enemy lines, My Lord, this is what I am offering you.”

Silence.

This seemed to good to be true. Tegehel never knew what to say in general, but when the circumstances were special, he was even less capable of articulating anything coherent. But as Dark Lord, he also knew the principle of profit and that, surely, there would be a price to pay in the future.

“Maybe a sacrifice? That would probably be it. Yes. A sacrifice.” Though Tegehel. “Why not start forthwith…”

“Glazathiel, my Bishop, make yourself useful, and go preach the bad omen…huh…say…hmm.  there!”. Tegehel was pointing the left extremity of the battlefield, in front of one of his Knight, now becoming gravely impatient.

“But My Lord, I do feel that my services would be more effective if I were to stay closer to the HeadQuarter and I certainly be able to…”

“That’s enough! I have made my decision. Now move, or I shall stone you to death with tiny gravel, you defective spiritual overseer” shouted the Dark Lord.

“Heheheeee, Sho it is written, Sho it shall be done” jerked Kranath the Malignant in jubilation.  Indeed, Kranath was now the only bishop left behind to take care of his Queen’s high (and lower) demands…

——

6. Bg5

Some sort of war council seemed to be taking place across the vale.  Odd time to be holding a meeting, what with the enemy host forming up in front of you and your own forces laying primarily stagnant, fairly tripping over one another in a fit of indecision.  Something hypermodern must be taking shape, for why else would the flanks be so rash as to advance before the core of the line?  A hypermodernist himself, Mu only resorted to his rather neanderthal frontal assault as a reply to his enemy’s bizarre maneuvering and a desire to be finished with this matter quickly.  Of course, in doing so, he could not help but feel that he was falling into a trap, being primed for a pincer assault which would immobilize and devastate his rather unwieldy formation.  And Tegehel’s last shifting of the right flank seemed to indicate…

Ah, yes, there it is… an enemy cleric, now positioning himself in a well-sheltered striking position, from which he could command a fair amount of terrain.  Damn Jin’s prodding towards a conventional attack!  No doubt this sinister fianchetto was the harbinger of Mu’s doom.  "What to do, what to do…" he muttered.

"Boss, I can get a good shot at the back rank…" said the slavering Bishop of the Dark Squares.  "I can stand up there, near where the advancing infantry is, and angle in, I think…"

Mu blinked.  "You’ve got to be kidding… "

"No really… look, I have armor.  I have armor spells.  I’m layered to the skinny with protections against conventional weaponry.  I can hang out there for a while without fear of damage, and if they panic…"

"Go on, sounds great," murmured Jin.  The Bishop immediately took off at a dead run without waiting for confirmation from Mu, for as the assembled host concurred, in actualy authority the two monarchs were equally disposed to confirm or deny plans of action, and besides, Mu’s ideas sucked anyway.

"You realize he’ll just have to run back here soon," whispered Mu, as soon as he felt the impetuous archer was out of earshot.

"Yeah well, he might disrupt their formation a bit, take the sting out of ol’ Glazathiel’s perch.  Besides, he was hitting on me."

——

6. … f6

It has been a long time, a long time indeed for the poor soldier stuck in the middle of this atypical clerical confrontation. Both enemies’ bishops were cowardly throwing injurious verbal attacks to each other over the shoulder of this valiant and incredible patient serviceman, who, quite frankly, did not understand much about what was shouted to and fro.

Although quite bothered by the intimate presence of Mu’s White Peacemonger, Tegehel luxuriated in listening to the oral beleaguerment, even if the delay of any action might potentially engender some catastrophic repercussion in the future for his army. No matter, he’d ask for reinforcements, right? Riiiiight.

Mu’s Bishop tried a new tactic, all of a sudden, and that was to perfidiously trying the good old ecumenical brainwash approach and although the Black Bishop was practically immune to the potential treachery, the now-more-than-ravaged peon was not and it was clear that another minute or two of this incessant prattling who turn him into gray, then probably White.

While the Black bishop was threatening Teg’s man-at-arm of excommunication and atrocious affliction in the fires of Hell, the White bishop was hammering him with “confess, confess” and other nonsensical litanies.

He was turning gray indeed. No time for words, we need action.

Tegehel was, as usual, totally absorbed in the debate as well as completely apathetic to the pawn’s side-switching tendencies and was just adding more insults and confusion to the whole debacle.  Rosicrucia, however, did notice the pallor of the infantryman and immediately ordered his counterpart, another nameless warrior, to go on the offensive and threaten Mu’s cleric.

The first warrior was saved, but how long will Mu’s arm reach?

——

7. Be3

"Right on schedule," Jin mused, watching the Bishop of the Dark Squares scurry back towards the line, huffing and puffing.

"Damn sticky melee!" he muttered.  "I’m not going to stand in front of 3 guys with hand weapons and shields!"

"Ah but what of your training?" inquired Mu.  "Wait, that was standing on a ledge somewhere and plinking at hapless, trapped targets for hours on end, was it not?"

"Archery rocks!  Oh, by the way, I saw something off to the side while I was talking that brainless buffoon into switching allegiances… looked like a wooden el…"

"Never mind," said Jin.  "Ah, I see your subtle plan worked, Mu… see, his flank is getting in their way.  A most auspicious omen.  Your strategy worked."  But Mu was by now enraptured in the delightful subtleties of a penis joke told by the Bishop of the Light Squares, and so missed this reference to his planning, which no doubt would simply go over his head, as he had not thought that far ahead at all.

"Let fortune favor the foolish," muttered Jin, as she perused the layout of the field.  If anything decisive was to happen, it might be up to her to initiate hostilities.

——

7. … e6

“It is obvious, you idiotic, pathetic strategist” screamed Rosicrucia at Tegehel’s face, with not an instant of hesitation and self-containment, “that Mu’s strategy, although far from being the most subtle move in the history of small battles was probably too much for your shriveling saurian excuse of a brain…You are blocking your own men by accumulating them all within the same parameters. I can’t believe it…this is not happening…”

Tegehel was speechless. Unbeknownst to all the eyes now watching him with contempt and a bit of shame, the Dark Lord had no idea whatsoever what Rosicrucia was blabbering about. He never heard those terms before, and by Jove! He was the one who went to War School after all…back in…well, it was a while back indeed. Had the rules changed already?

“…and our right flank is now totally penetrable by brute force and only protected by some stupid automaton…” continued to shout the Black Queen to whoever was listening. And all where listening with great authority, mainly for fear of losing their heads or place in their Queen’s “favor” list.

“Automaton? Humpf!” thought Tegehel. This is how Rosicrucia referred to the Humongous towers on each extremity of the field. Powerful Golems they were, and quite the protection if needed.  Granted, they were not representing the essence of intelligence or initiative for unless given a direct order, they would remain motionless and stare blankly in front of them. They were also not the most conversationalist entities you’d ever encounter indeed but pretty much everyone agreed that during war times, it was perhaps an advantage after all.

“…and furthermore, you must understand that you cannot count on reinforcements any time soon for we are in the middle of nowhere. As a matter of fact, are YOU the one who managed to bring us in those desolate lands? The terrain is harsh, unfavorable and …”

“Bitch, bitch, bitch…” was thinking Tegehel while nodding and smiling at his choleric Black Queen.  “Shyte, I wish she was a Golem too…well, at least, she keeps the men happy…I wonder how she does it? When I try it, the men always complain…oh well…”

While the Dark Lord was thinking about everything but the outcome of the battle, his Queen was vomiting a tsunami of complaints, affections and archaic insults. Glazathiel, who just had a vehement verbal contest with Mu’s “negotiator”, was panting like a newborn, his face red and heart pounding.  He truly thought that his deeds were heroic and his gests worthy of songs and ecumenist poetry and although Mu’s Bishop’s retreat had absolutely nothing to do with him, he took full credits for his “infernal and powerful counter-attack” as he liked to call it.

Taken by a sudden attack of illumination of the mind, Glazathiel “saw the darkness” for a few seconds and acting upon his vision he ordered the elite guard assigned to Tegehel’s protection to join his peers in the battlefront, to form a continuous protective line that will ultimately slant into Mu’s advancing forces.

As the soldier advanced into position, a now silent Teg and muted Rosicrucia were looking first at their royal protection vanishing in front of them and then turned their sight slowly towards Glazathiel, who was waving back at them, smiling gloriously.

——

8. Bd3

"Sir, I got a peach of a shot…"

"Not yet," quipped Jin to the Bishop of the Light Squares, who was farily drooling through his helmet at the thought of an early strike against one of Teg’s golems, isolated from the rest of the group and ripe for solitary monster AI exploitation.  "Move up a little… get into position… there."  The archer, disgruntled at the idea of actually having to maneuver rather than firing from the longest distance possible from the top of a cliff, complied, taking he position next to his counterpart, who could faintly be heard to mumble, "Game over man… melees everywhere man…"

Mu, having lost the pleasure of his right-hand bishop’s whispered genitalia anecdotes, was fairly perturbed.  Why couldn’t the bishop move to directly in front of him, thus placing him into a useful position AND putting him directly in front of his monarch to absorb any attacks which, as he well knew, could come at any time in his general direction?  For that matter, why was it that his entire army could not simply contract itself around his position, forming a shield of bodies to interpose itself from damage from any side, then simply inch forward tortoise-like into the heart of the enemy?

Then, glancing at the direct path he had now to his own wandmonkey mage, standing in the corner to his right, an idea came to him…

——

8. … Ne7

“It was a regrettable incident, my Lord,” squeaked Glazathiel, his fist between his teeth. Tegehel, behind him, was preparing for the truculent ritual.

“Oil it well, my young page, for I want it to penetrate as deeply as possible, wounding not only the flesh, but also the intestines and ah yes, the ego. I want my entire army to witness the “lack o’ obedience” ceremony and to remember it as long as they live…” ordered the Dark Lord, totally ignoring his Bishop’s cry for forgiveness.

Kranath the Malignant, the other Bishop, was jubilant. He dreamt of that moment since his unfortunate assignment to Tegehel, Omnilord of Darkness, many years ago. How did he, a simple bishop raised for Dark colonialism only, survived so many battles, he couldn’t tell, but what irritated him the most was Glazathiel’s presence in the same corp. His presence, and his horrible habit of not dying either. Kranath and Glazathiel hated each other from day one, and today, Kranath would have his revenge, even if he could not recall why the quarrel between them ever started and for what reason. In any case, he was not the one being humiliated today, for a change…

Rosicrucia was perplex about the effectiveness of the punishment, but always enjoyed watching it. Often, she would use them as reference for her personal “training” with the troops indeed.

Meanwhile, Tegehel was getting ready. He took his right leather boot off, and grabbed from the hands of his page the now shiny oiled iron-boot-of-pain, and slowly slid it onto his foot. While attaching lacers and knots, he declared:

“Hear ye, hear ye. This day will long be remember in the annals of The Achromatic Wars, for this day is the day my bishop disregarded the code of honor and did not report to me before moving or ordering a peon…ahem, a…a soldier to move. To day, Glazathiel the Abscess will receive…”The Booting™, given with my trusty iron boot, a.k.a “Das Boot””. May this be an example for you all.”

Tegehel was ready to strike. The crowd was cheering, Kranath was chanting, Rosicrucia touching, the drums rolling and Glazathiel sobbing when suddenly, without warning Ghar’arh, the Knight in shiny-and-oily Furs violently directed his warhorse to gallop and stamp the ground towards a new location that he, Ghar’arh thought appropriate to take and hold, at least for this round. He would then charge directly into the heart of Mu’s army…Oh yes he would…

Tegehel was flabbergasted. He grabbed Rosicrucia’s arm with tenderness and murmured in her delicate hear “My dear and beautiful Queen, prithee tell me in all honesty, why in Hell do I bother?  The very reason of this punishment is to instigate fear and reverence towards my persona and…”

Tegehel sighed, and neglecting the proximity to his Queen’s hear, suddenly screamed “WHILE I AM PERFORMING THE ULTIMATE HUMILIATION-TEACHING TECHNIQUE, MY OWN PERSONAL BRAINLESS KNIGHT DECIDED TO BREAK THE RULES IN FRONT OF MY MEN.”

Rosicrucia was literally jolted a few feet away from her precedent location. She was suddenly as stiff as a rock. She new too well that when Tegehel is THAT irate, better be on his good side for he has been known to kill without asking first. In addition, she was now tone-deaf and temporarily lost the ability to speak coherently: her brain was still trying to repair the damages.

Tegehel shrugged and sighed. His army was dead silent and sweating in fear. What would be the Dark Lord’s next move? Random executions? Refined tortures? Or worse: an unabridged recitation of his heroic exploits and deific deeds during his previous wars, in German Haiku. The latter has been known to annihilate an entire rank of veteran pawns.

But nothing! The Dark Lord took off “Das Boot”, handled it to his soaked-wet page and walked slowly toward his tent, his back hunched over. Glazathiel gasped and ran off to his tent, holding his now yellowed underpants. Kranath shook his head, disappointed to the extreme. He will have his revenge…one day, one day…

Rosicrucia entered her Lord’s bivouac and found him staring at the empty space in front of him. She sat down, slowly, next to him and with a calm voice, whispered in his ears:

“Tegehel, I know you meant well, but you are the Lord of Darkness AND chaos, remember? The chaotic element adds charms, it’s certain, but it is so difficult to master…don’t blame yourself. We knew Ghara’arh was indomitable. Even your father…may he rest in Hell…died trying to teach him military manners and combat ethics.”

“D…d..daaaddyyyyyy…..” cried Tegehel, bursting in tears and grasping Rosicrucia’s Robe. He leaned over and laid his head on her legs, sobbing like a newborn.

“There, there…I know, I know…shhh…” sibilated a comforting Queen. She liked to be in charge and knew indeed how to use her Motherly power to reach out towards Teg’s inner repressed childhood. “I have more bad news to report, my Lord, but perhaps we could take advantage of it.  My spy, the ethereal wooden Elf of that-dreaded-place reported to me that Mu is about to enclose himself in a stronghold at the opposite side of the battlefield. It’s hard to see from here, but if he does such a thing, he’ll be virtually impregnable. The advantage I am thinking of is that if he confines himself totally, his orders will be more difficult to carry in and out of the fortress and ultimately will take longer and perhaps even get confusing for he might not be able anymore to see the battlefield from his redoubt. And it has been known that leaders, in small and dark places, develop paranoia and often act irrationally.”

“Well, let’s hope so, my Queen. Let us hope so” sniveled Tegehel, “and I must congratulate you on your snaffling news. What shall our next move be, hoping that we’ll be able to control the rest of our troops?”

Rosicrucia stood up and examined the terrain maps. “Let him barricade himself, My Lord…let him…”

She smiled deviously.

——

9. O-O

Mu’s beard itched again.  Oh would that the scraggly, tufted facial curse of the Sho male let him be for just a little while, instead of tormenting him out here, where he was endangered by the enemy, where he was unwilling to remove his helmet for fear of attack.  His paranoia and sense of personal safety prevented him from relieving his discomfort, and although his reluctance to place himself in peril was strong, so was his need for physical comfort.  At this moment, this struggle was certainly more exciting than what was happening before him.

Yet what was happening before him only served to heighten the strength of the paranoid part of his mind.  As the enemy infantry slowly crept forward, he had eyes not for the weakness of the formation, nor how it interfered with the actions of the more powerful forces behind it, but how it might, unopposed, bring ruin unto his army and, more importantly, himself.  There must be a way to protect himself further…

"Will you cut that shit out?" barked Jin, watching the by-now-tiresome routine Mu put himself through, casting all seven elemental protections and armor upon himself, followed by a series of armor enchantments which threatened to deplete the taper supply of all south Dereth.  "They aren’t anywhere near you, you have time!"

"Caution is always advisable," he muttered, buffing his abilities at cooking and the use of thrown weapons, should the enemy choose to weaken him in those areas.

"The best defense is a strong attack!" rebutted Jin.

"Exactly, which is why I have the services of…" Mu couldn’t remember the name fo the wandmonkey mage to his right.  Rand al-Merlin?  Raistlin Gandalf?  Crunchberriez?  "You there!  Stand over here and I’ll uh, teach you an exciting new spell!"

The mage Kik Yo Azz perked up at this beneath his Olthoi helm, for as a master of person versus person combat and the greatest secrets of magery thereof, he knew but one spell, Fire Vulnerability Other VI, which made his tactic much more expedient in the heat of combat, yet failed to get results if his enemy happened to cast it first while he was shopping. The mage trotted over obediently.

"For shame Mu," chided Jin.  "You know that such flippant disregard of the magic economy only serves to weaken us all!"

"Fear not, my queen, it is for the greater good," he answered, quietly slipping towards the mage’s previous position, safely enclosed by a wall of peons.  "Now, the mysteries of Mace Ineptitude Other…"

——

9. … d6

The sky was gray and the clouds created, at least in Teg’s mind, curious furry shapes that reminded him of venerable conquest he had in the past, especially the female kind. The Dark Lord liked his women the way he liked his kiwi fruit: sweet yet tart, firm-fleshed yet yielding to the touch, and covered with short brown fuzzy hair.

Rosicrucia, however, looked more like a smooth curvaceous woman fully bosomed, with great symmetrical hips that move like silk, mounted on long suggestive legs. Her golden hair was flowing graciously while the sun’s ray reflected on her pale skin. Her face disclosed a rather unnatural beauty. Teg disliked all that.

“Say, Rosicrucia, my delicious Queen” murmured Tegehel, with a curiously pretentious emphasis on the adjective. “I kinda like Mu’s strategic move, yes, in fact. Far from showing cowardice or paranoia, I think his stratagem is quite ingenious indeed: Mu entrenched himself because he fears me, and expects me to send all my troops to storm his man-made castle, which would create an opening on the right flank and leave me vulnerable. Ah! Numinous Moribund, this Mu! But my superior intellect…”

“Ahem” coughed Rosicrucia.

“and…and adequate informer services…<sheesh>…allowed me undermine his holy plans.  However, I must admit that he had a good idea, and I shall use the same tactic, only in reverse.”  “My lord?” questioned the Black Queen feigning an incipient interest. She was really hoping that this time, Teg would make a move so drastically ridiculous and insensible that it would only result in his detrimental elimination “with extreme prejudice”, so that she could finally take over the Black Army and once and for all annihilate Jin, her arch-nemesis, and oh! Butchering Mu on the way.

 “Yes, Rosicrucia, inverse psychology. I will make myself available to frontal assault to attract the White Army towards my persona, while you and my general encircle the enemy from the sides. Simple, no? Simplicity is the key! Why didn’t I think of that before?”

“Aaah yesss, very…simple indeed” smiled the Queen, also thinking how dumb that very idea was.  At least Mu, it seems, was now relatively secured. She wondered if the White guards surrounding Mu could be bought at a reasonable price to turn against their master. It never quite worked in the past, she reckoned. Most of them would get the money and vanish. Never mind, at least, chances are that Teg might get attacked reasonably soon…that would be good news.

The Dark Lord ordered the royal guard to move forward, thus creating a direct diagonal opening to Teg’s throne. Not really understanding the logic behind the call, the soldier relinquished his beloved position, just in front of his Queen. No more of those forbidden caresses when Teg was looking away…

——

10. c5

Safely ensconced behind his wall of expendable vassals, Mu lounged for a second, perusing the course of the so-called "battle".  More accurately, it was a series of hesitant, creeping steps forward, a halfhearted feint, and an overt amount of posturing and braggadocio from both sides.  While this was the source of no small amount of restlessness for his soldiers, Mu was perfectly content to wait out the fray as long as possible, perhaps even long enough to encounter one of those mysterious "server down" events wherein he might make his subsequent escape before the other participants regained consciousness, declaring a moral victory over the dark lord Tegehel from the safety of a friendly tavern.

His Queen, however, had other plans.

Noting the restlessness of the Bishop of the Light Squares, the tip of his yumi twitching nervously like the end of a viper’s tongue, she sought to create opportunity for him to exercise his advanced tactic of shooting a hell of a lot of arrows at targets that could not get to him, the highest form of the archer’s art in Dereth.  Kicking a peon roughly forward, dangerously close to the enemy, she opened a line for him, and a knowing leer in Jin’s direction showed that the Bishop was aware of her favor, and would hopefully return it someday in a manner which would no doubt be more pleasurable for him than the recipient of his gift.

Jin yawned and waited for people to die.

——

10. … Ra8

“At my command, unleash Hell!” ordered Tegehel to the squeamish soldier stationed of front of Rosicrucia.

That royal guard had previously received another beclouding order, and like last time, was unable to grasp the tactical concept behind his move other than the fact that he had a “baaad feeling” about advancing so close to the enemy’s mastodonic line of defense. HE was the end of the line: there was nothing in between him and the monstrous Golem on the other side of the field. Was HE, alone, supposed to prevent the entire White army to rush like hell within this opening as well as directly attack Mu’s scout? Like heck he would…

Lady Rosicrucia gawped at Teg with an air of excessive wryness. Gesturally putting her index finger in front of her pouting mouth while looking at her King, then elegantly pointing out to the low-statured swordsman and asked: “THAT is supposed to unleash HELL?”

She started a frantic cachinnation.

In the meantime, Kranath the Malignant, the “other” Bishop looked perturbed. He knew Mu was relatively careless but also knew that “that-devious-Jin” was definitively not and that she would never had permitted the first White reconnaissance unit to let itself be seen so…obviously. It was a trick. It must be a trick.

Tegehel was impatiently holding his magnificent rusty sword in his right hand, his arm stretched far above his head and ready to bark orders and visually direct his subordinate soldier towards Mu’s Frontal Assault Team (Mu’s F.A.T.™) by lowering his arm and scream “for the Crown!  Attack…HIM!” as if the soldier was immensely dumb and uncommonly blind. Suddenly came out of nowhere a shout: “It’s a ruse, Sire!”

Tegehel froze cold. Rosicrucia abruptly stopped laughing. The entire Black army slowly turned its attention toward his Evilness Kranath the Malignant, now shinning clumsily towards the Dark Lord, whose arm was starting to hurt.

The bishop commented “My Lord, IF you send George to attack Mu’s scouts, you will create an opportunity for Jin to counter-attack by sending a demolition team towards our venerable Golem at the far side of the battlefield. We must sacrifice George and allow the Golem to retreat.”

“George?” thought Tegehel in shock. “My soldiers have names? And…and how come I, the Dark Lord didn’t know about it. And how come Kranath knew that this particular one was called George? Were they…? Did they…? They could not!!!”

Teg was virtually frozen in time and space, his eyes and mouth wide open, looking dazed and confused. His arm was still up and starting to shake.

Rosicrucia came to her senses quite rapidly and tried to save the situation. It was a trap indeed. She swiftly ordered the huge Black Golem to retreat to a more appropriate sanctuary. There would be another opportunity later. As for “George”, he was not ordered to move after all. The Black Queen spoke to him of sacrifice and how proud she was of him. Frankly, he did not really listen or understood for he felt relieved that he did not have to attack Mu’s soldiers. “They kill you and eat you alive…in this order”, he was told once. George felt quite confident that his luck was finally about to change. He felt good, serene.

——

11. cxd6

"Egads!" cried Mu, at the completely natural (yet to him, unexpected and fortuitous) retreat of the golem to its lair.  "This is fantastic!  We must take advantage of this event, full, crushing advantage…"

He looked aruond for ideas.  None were forthcoming.  Placated by months of fighting in the same way over and over again, the originality index of his forces were at an all-time low.  If it didn’t involve standing behind a wall and casting Drain Health I, standing on a ledge and firing arrows for an hour, or standing in the middle of Arwic and screaming at the top of one’s lungs begging for equipment, it was out of their experience.  And so at times like this, it was up to the commander to ake tactical decisions.  What brilliant, subtle, far-reaching maneuver could be initiated at a time like this, when the enemy was in disarray and one’s own forces were on the verge of driving a wedge between their east and west flanks?

"Mu looked around.  "Hey, go attack that guy," he casually ordered.  Within seconds a boring slugfest between two inept footsoldiers ensued.

"What exactly is the point of that?" muttered Jin Lee.  She had to repeat herself, as sound did not carry all that well across the human shield Mu had erected about himself.

"Oh, uh, well, it’s like a fight you see, and uh we can get that other guy!"  His words seemed supported by the fact that the enemy melee peon was now lying dead on the ground, while the Mu-allied imbecile was crowing loudly about how his superior tactics and maneuvering won the day, his standing-still-in-one-spot-while-swinging-and-hoping-to-get-lucky idea bearing grisly fruit.

"Sigh…" said Jin, as she waited for the shit to hit the fan.

——

11. … cxd6

“By Thanatos! This…err…armored peon of Hell stands a bit too close from my vanguard position hitherto. I say!” mumbled Tegehel in a foul and almost odorous mood.

“Vanguard? Vanguard? You’re sitting on your fat papule on this decadent post-modernist chair you dare call a Throne at the furthermost point opposite to Mu’s army and you call yourself vanguard? You, my dear, have quite a sense of humor, if not of perilous, histrionic inexactness.”

Rosicrucia was proud of her viperic retort. After all, Tegehel represented the quintessence of the pusillanimous assailant:  stentorophonically brave behind the line, vanishes at first sign of hostilities.

“A dead ruler has lost his usefulness – is an ancient Sho proverbial saying – I must retain most of my life by all means necessary. Surely, you understand my dear: If I do get killed, I might die. And if I thus perish, I shall not guide my braves towards yet unconquered lands of fortunes and wealth” gesturally prosed the Black Mogul.

Rosicrucia sighed heavily. “Well, now you really are so very dangerously threatened by Mu’s achondroplastic marionette, aren’t you, Mylord?”

Teg pinpointed an iota of sarcasm in his Queen’s high-pitched voice. He remained immobile and retaliated with grand panache the following line, now incrusted in many old-fashioned shields:

"This bickering is pointless. Lord Ghar’arh will provide us with the location of the Rebel fortress by the time this station is operational. We will then crush the Rebellion with one swift stroke.”

“Clap, clap…very well said, my Liege,” proclaimed Kranath the Malignant, “aside from the fact that WE are the Rebellion…is it a premonitory adage?”

Teg said nothing. He was now infuriated and when so, he ostensibly would open and close the visor of his heaume in a nervous manner. As such, he quickly ordered his warrior to furtively backstab that White annoyance of a soldier, who was now staring at the Black Queen with anticipation.

——

12. d5

Mu watched the footsoldier fall without any apparent emotion, ever the stoic leader externally.  Internally, he mourned the necessary loss only insofar as that peon represented a body with the possibility of intercepting an attack aimed at the monarch himself.  When arbitrary blasts of searing acid are flying, there’s no better defense than someone else standing in its path.  This axiom formed the basis for Mu’s entire system of large-scale warfare strategy, to the minor dismay of his vassals who would sometimes fill this role, who would nonetheless continue to serve in this fashion, thanks in no small part to the continuous stream of almost-new gear which Mu plied them with on a sporadic basis, so as not to get their hopes too high.

As he looked over the faces of his retinue, he saw their dismay at the prospect of death at the hands of the dark host, vividly illustrated by the ritualistic disembowelment, flaying, filleting, coating in egg batter, dredging with fresh brioche crumbs, light sauteeing in melted butter and caper berries, and serving with a nice burgundy of one of their own number.  It was time for the dreaded pep talk.

"Soldiers of righteousness," Mu exclaimed, "This honored soldier’s sacrifice may be tragic, but also inspirational.  For he understood the importance of this battle, the evil we have set ourselves to halt.  Do not allow yourselves to be brought down by his death; nay, let it strengthen your resolve, let it add speed to your swords, let it urge you on to battle!  We shall fight them on the land, we shall fight them in the air, by the rockets’ red glare, for truth, justice, and two chickens in every garage…"

It went on for a bit.

The drawn-out recitation seemed to have the desired effect on the assembled warriors, as susceptible as they were to a decent sales pitch… this was how they had come to be in Dereth, after all.  "Well, that seems to have cheered them up," remarked Mu to the omnipresent Jin Lee.

"A little too well," she replied, indicating with a movement of her chin the deceased soldier’s companion, who was at this moment charging forward without orders, screaming at the top of lungs about the virtues of Apple Pie and Mother, determined to drive the godless commies back whence they came…

——

12. … e5

Dear Mother,

I have been under a lot of pressure lately. Mu’s army of Bleachers-from-God reached the border of our territory and The Black Legion is decided to defend it to the last. At least, that seems to be our humble prerogative, according to our Lord Tegehel. The White Army has a decisive advantage it seems for they were quicker to take and hold the most imperious positions, thus preventing us to move freely. Our Army, although potentially more aggressive dwell in contemptuous chaos and whenever a decision needs be made, it always takes an eternity. In case of battle, it is not always appropriate. In fact, pretty much everybody fights about everything, and our counselors, the Hell-bishops, are the ones fighting the most.

The moral is rather high. I tasted my first blood a couple of days ago when Ag’hr got cut to piece by Mu’s scout. In return, I was sent to get rid of him. I managed to crawl behind and cut his throat with my bare jaws. Tastes like one of those pies you used to make when I was a kid. We feasted on his dead body but when we came to the head, Lord Tegehel ordered it to be sent back to Mu’s headquarters. I stole the eyes when no one was watching and now, I have a couple of eery earrings.

That seemed not to bother Mu much since they just advanced another of their suicidal warriors toward my position. Mayhaps, they have not received the head yet? No matter. We were going to trap Mu’s peon, but Rosicrucia, our beloved Queen ordered my companion to move forward instead.  I don’t understand because we could have killed him on the spot. She said it was tactical, something about blocking the other’s movements. I don’t really get it, but I guess they know what they’re doing.

Advancement in Tegehel’s army is difficult. There is a song we sing here about it. It goes like this….ahem…hmm…*cough*…

”How many squares must a peon walk around, before becoming a Queen?
Oh, how many squares must a peon fight away, before becoming half-gay?
The answer, my friend ain’t pissin’ in the wind, the answer my friend is Lee, Jin”

I’m not exactly sure what it means, but we sure sing it loudly. I wonder what they think on the other side of the field. Ah. Glazathiel told me something once about the courage of a peon being rewarded if he managed to cross the battlefield to the other side, but he says the scriptures are rather hazy about that. Anyway, as you know, I always wanted to become a Queen, Dear Mother, and I’m aiming towards that goal!

Anyway, hugs from the battlefield. Your son,

Braâââak.

——

13. Qb3

"Ah!  Now is our big chance!" crowed Mu, surveying the developing situation on the field.  Whatever he saw in his mind as being advantageous must have been missed by every other spectator on the field; how a handful of peons locked together, shield to shield, in a stalemate which only got in everyone’s way, could be beneficial to either side was beyond everyone.

Noting their bewilderment, Mu hastily sought to explain his position.  "Ah, you see, tactically speaking, the dark lord Tegehel has performed what we in the military science profession like to call a ‘blunder’… by exposing himself at lower elevations, he becomes vulnerable to… well, if you take a look at it from a standpoint of desperate ground… uh… armor cannot retreat into the woods so… the overrun rules state clearly that… attacking a fortification with cavalry is… uh…"

Jin stepped in.  "I think what our fearless leader is trying to say here is that we shout stop fucking around and kill someone."  With that, she strode purposefully to a more advanced position on the field.

——

13. … Na6

It has now been many months since the last decisive move by any parties. Mu awaited patiently, and wisely too perhaps, for Tegehel to do something. Anything. At this point, it didn’t really matter anymore, anything would become an excuse to launch his enormous army against Teg.

(Enormous army?…who was he kidding?)

Teg, in the meantime, was camping like a mother#%$&!, not by choice but rather by necessity. His army looked like a bunch of drunkard, disbanded vagabonds on the field, his queen spent a bit too much time with the bishops, and the troops for that matter…The dark Lord was the only one, ultimately, who spent any time thinking about battle strategies and war tactics, but was totally unable to pour any kind of substantial logic into it and thus, the strategy of one day would usually interfere with the previous attempt. In addition, Teg’s supporting troops, ammunitions and rations were nowhere in sight and this was becoming rather disturbing.

It is time, he thought, to send the cavalry to the rescue. Rescue of what? it didn’t really matter.  What was needed was to show the diminutive troops the raw, homoerotic power of the mounted infantry screaming madly, galloping fiercely towards Mu’s ranges of long, phallic pikemen.

It would be bloody, but it would make quite a sensation, thought Teg .

"You there, with the thing…ah…horse…Vamoose!"

——

14. Qb5+

Mu surveyed the field before him with no small amount of glee, as it appeared that the potenial for glorious victory was in his grasp once again, not due to any sort of strategic brilliance on his own part, but rather the blundering of his counterpart.  Having wasted some time early on in the field with infantry maneuvers even more pointless than Mu’s own, Dark Lord Tegehel had yielded the initiative to the armies of light, initiative so great it offset even Mu’s unaggressive and meandering marching orders.

If it were an option, Mu would have gladly stayed exactly where he was, safely ensconced behind his meat-shield of underlings, conducting his business in as craven a manner as possible, a truce being just as good as a draw from his perspective of "personal safety uber alles."  The recent exchange of footmen concerned neither monarch overmuch, as their own hides were intact, a state that Mu hoped to preserve for himself as long as possible.

Then Jin Lee had to go and do something like attack.

Her brash maneuvering had led to something wholly unexpected, as an armored knight of the dark camps galloped forth on a… mount… shying away at the last second, veering off to one side before the angered gaze of the incensed mage before him.  The fact that anyone would actually some out to respond to Jin Lee’s advance was not so astounding as the thing he was astride, something that Mu had not seen since he had escaped the astoundingly unsavory world of Shitannia…

"I say, is that a horse?"

"I belive so, milord," replied the wandmonkey covering his left flank.

"Where the hell did he get a horse?"

"I couldn’t rightly say.  Perhaps they were just now implemented?"

"I read nothing of this in the most holy writ of Build Notes," whined Mu.  It was well-known that for a man of such lazy and slothful disposition as Mu, he liked to be kept apprised of any changes to the dynamics of Dereth, primarily via reports from associates of his more actively disposed toward exploration than he, which comprised perhaps 99% of the population of the known world at any given time.  It was true that Mu generally had information regarding all sorta of news and events, but this data was generally gleaned at the price of a couple mugs of ale, rather than any personal bloodshed or perspiration.

"Sir, perhaps this is something new and secret.  Tegehel is closely associated with the Lords of Creation, you know."

"IF THERE ARE HORSES OUT THERE THEN BY ASHERON I WILL HAVE ONE!" whined Mu, stamping a robed foot upon the ground in a most un-militaristic manner.  "Make a note:  I want all pertinent information on this… ‘horse quest’ as soon as it is feasable.  Requirements, places, any parts of it I could farm out to hirelings…"

"Very well sir, I shall make the necessary arrangements as soon as Mistress Jin Lee concludes her attack over yonder," the wandmonkey noted.

"Eh?  But…" Mu’s words trailed off as he noted with no small amount of ire that Jin Lee had recklessly advanced herself, staying out of lance range of the cavalryman who nervously eyed her as she garnered line of sight to… Tegehel himself.

It might be some time before Mu could find out more about this horse business after all.

 

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