Goodbye to August

Woohoo!! We made it!

I enjoyed this challenge. I didn’t realize it would be this much fun or this hard. At first I was skeptical about being able to complete it. Then I became worried about what I was going to put up the next day. I then moved to being worried that I would not have enough time to actually put up a post. Ideas and topics were coming effortlessly.

Shout out to Abigail, Tiana, Kelvin, Fola and Ajike who inspired five of the posts this month. Sometimes it would be a statement, a thought or a call that would trigger an idea for a post. Sometimes I would start posts and realize they were bigger than I thought. The two mini series, Goes to School and Let’s Play, I thought would be one post entries. They spiralled into three or more and based on that I struck out some other ideas. Can’t be writing about petroleum engineering or physical fitness and taking all the time in the world. Perhaps it was a door I closed but hey August has only 31 days.

Shout out to Jumoke, Ajoke, Olatox, Timi, Ebun, Tip, and Arinolaoluwa for sharing the links, commenting and liking. I do this for me but I would be lying if I didn’t say I do it for you guys too. Much love.

I went through the book of Proverbs this month too a chapter everyday in the Message translation. I failed in that challenge. I missed three whole days. Reading my bible everyday is a challenge I’m not ending this month. On the average it takes me about fifteen minutes to read a chapter and that should not be so hard to do. I guess I realized where my priorities have been all along and I intend to correct that, so help me God. Shout out to Preye for some of the verses quoted from Proverbs on the days I had to put up verses before I could read. She was my unconscious challenge partner for the Proverbs chapter a day project and I pray God blesses her abundantly.

There’s a part of me in all the characters I’ve described in my stories this month. Some of them I’m not there yet but I admire and aspire to be. I found it funny reading my descriptions because I hope I have enough time in life to build all those parts of my character.

Where do we go from here? I’ll be writing a bit more regularly here. I’ll also be accepting guest posts from anyone who resonates with the feel of 19th Street so feel free to subscribe and send in your entries too. One way I enjoy reading the 200 posts on here is by clicking on the categories on the right side. I hope with the next hundred entries we will have so much more fun here.

I have a new job in addition now 😀 I’m in charge of the Crayola Diaries on thenakedconvos.com, dedicated to the true life stories hardly anyone gets to hear otherwise. You’re welcome to read our lives there and tell us your stories there too, anonymously if you wish.

My friend Abigail is taking over tomorrow with a post everyday on 38 life defining things or moments in her life. She’s a prolific writer I respect very much but for the period of this personal challenge of mine, she went offline on her blog. I intend to do the same until she’s done with my blog. I guess that will give you the time to catch up on all the posts you’ve missed here on 19th Street, as well as enjoy her personal journey (she’s an excellent tour guide).

So what do you guys think of the blog entries this month? Do you think they were worse or better than the other ones I had more time to prepare for? Which was your personal favorite?

Thanks for staying with me through this challenge. 🙂 See you in October.

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A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds.
( Prov. 31:10, The Message)

The Peace Child

The Queen is the most powerful of the chess pieces. She combines both the movements of the bishop and the rook: she can move across any straight line or diagonal on the board.

The queen is materially equal to nine pawns, but she is vulnerable if she acts alone against coordinated enemy pieces.

The king is the most important piece on the chess board. The game is lost when, no matter how many pieces are on the board, the king is under attack and cannot escape, a situation referred to as checkmate. The game ends in a draw if the king is not under attack but no moves can be legally made by one side.

The king takes only one step at a time in any direction and because of this weakness he has to be protected by the other pieces. The king has no material value. More correctly, the value of the king exceeds the value of all the other pieces on the board put together.

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Ikenna toyed with the ivory chess pieces of the exotic chess set in his inner chambers. He did this anytime he wanted to settle his thoughts. It was like a learned response. Anytime his mentor taught him the ways of a king, he did it over the chess board. The words of his mentor – or was it his voice brimming with unshakable quiet confidence? – always seemed to soothe him no matter the turmoil he was in.

“The king does not run, even under the rain, except in battle. He must never raise his hands above his head for that is a sign of surrender. He must be the image of supreme confidence for his people.”

Ikenna was the peace child, kidnapped from his home as a boy and raised by the enemy clan as a hostage against further attacks from his father. The tradition was that he be given back to his village when he became of age, if he chose to go. Looking back, it seemed cruel to uproot him from his family and people, but as he grew, he came to understand the circumstances he was in and how his heartache was a trifle compared to thousands of mothers losing their children forever. At least, he could look forward to being reunited with his people and learning their ways afresh someday.

“The king must be visible to his people but distant from them. He must stand on the same rocking log as they do, but never on the same side. He will come out on various occasions to remind his people of why they exist, because human memory is fickle. When they see him however, they must not be able to touch or approach him. They will see him as the epitome of all ambition they may aspire to.”

He had not been given much opportunity to miss his former people. He had been accepted and cared for here like a son of the king. Every need of his was met and the perfunctory respects paid him by the dwellers of Isiso. Recently that had begun to change. His foster father, the ailing king was about to be gathered to his ancestors. The people no longer had to pretend to believe his moral ideals of showing love to the enemy.

“The king must recognize what is important and vital to the survival of his people. He will use this knowledge to position himself as the guardian of those values and resources, making himself indispensable to his people. This way, he will not have to fight for power. The people will fight for power and then hand it over to him.”

Ikenna’s situation was not helped by the fact that the king had no sons. A woman could not be king in Isiso. His adopted cousins were nowhere near royalty material either. Two of them were teen drunks and the third had barely seen eight planting seasons. It also didn’t help that the first daughter of the sick king was in love with Ikenna. If he asked for her hand in marriage, the king could not legally refuse. And if he chose to return to his people with her it would be the perfect revenge for his abduction many years ago. If he chose to stay, well, he could be crowned king, an even greater blow to the people of Isiso. He could not take any harmless decision whichever way he turned.

“The king’s intentions must never be revealed until it is too late to stop them. Only a king can fully understand the depths of a king’s mind.”

Recently Ikenna had begun to piece things together. The sessions with his mentor, the real title of the book he read from every time he came visiting, the recent agitation of the people every morning on the market days, the frantic reminder messages from his soon to be reunited family – it was all coming together in his mind. His foster father had foreseen this possibility and steered the whole situation towards the choice Ikenna was about to make. It was so subtle and brilliant that even after you saw you were being manipulated, you felt flattered that so much effort had been made to keep you from realizing what was going on. It was almost a testimonial to how intelligent you were perceived by the person trying to play you.

The fact that he understood this even pointed to the fact that he was to be king. He understood the mind of his royal foster father. Even the right hand of the king, his mentor Izibor, had not ever hinted that this was why he had been instructed to read the book of the kings to Ikenna during his weekly visits.

That very instant, the old influential man stepped into the tent. Izibor had come to escort him to address the joint gathering of the people of Isiso and the emissaries from his biological clan now waiting in the royal courtyard. As he followed quietly behind the stooped sage, he remembered the last instruction from the book of the kings:

“The king must either tell the people what they want to hear the most or what they fear to hear the most. In the rare case where the two cases coincide in his announcement, the king will be established in the eyes of the people as a god incarnate.”

Climbing up the wooden platform in the kings courtyard, Ikenna squared his shoulders and set them back. He lifted his chin, looked over the heads of the gathered crowd from one end of the square to the next and back to the centre, and assumed the tone of a king.

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The believer replied, “Every promise of God proves true;
he protects everyone who runs to him for help.
(Prov. 30 vs. 5, The Message)

Wanderer

The knight moves in the peculiar L-shaped manner – two squares forward and one step sideways at once. So a knight in the centre of the board can move to eight potential positions from its position – two steps front then one left or right (2 positions), two steps back then one left or right (2 positions), two steps left then one up or down (2 positions) and two steps right then one up or down ( 2 positions). Any enemy piece standing on any of these squares can be captured by the knight., making it able to easily attack up to eight enemy pieces at once.

The knight is also the only piece that can jump over a piece or pieces on the board. It can make the first move of the game because of this and is extremely maneuverable in closed board positions. The knight is materially equal to three pawns just like the bishop but two bishops are generally regarded as stronger than two knights due to their long range control of more squares on the board when in combination.

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It had all started as fun and games to Saleh as a child. His father must have been surprised when he shot his first arrow at the age of five and hit a tree trunk over a hundred paces away. He was supposed to be playing in the sand with the other kids and there must have been a twinge of guilt in his father’s heart to see his second son substitute weapons of iron for toys of wood and stone. The pride that came from seeing his little boy put archers thrice his age to shame grew on him however and he decided to let the boy be.

Saleh got bored easily, always in search of some new weapon to master, always in search of some new land to explore. He would sometimes travel to a distant land for months on end and return with some obscure weapon to renew his hold on the admiration of the village. The ladies were not left out in the admiration either. It seemed they all wanted to render services to him in any form. He was welcome on anyone’s farm and in anyone’s vacant bed at any time he chose.

Despite the love and admiration he enjoyed, Saleh never really bonded with anyone. Even his weapons could not lay claim to his restless heart. One could not even be certain of his loyalty to his clan. He switched alliances in the yearly war games so easily one could almost claim he was doing it just for fun or experiment. The irony was in his hatred for war of any sort. He seemed to avoid conflict and situations that required actually killing someone.

These last thoughts crossed the king’s mind when Saleh’s name was brought up in the war council’s meeting. The men around the table seemed to think putting a sword in Saleh’s hand and a standard bearer beside him would galvanize the other men in the village to go forward to confront the advancing enemy. Did they even know the man? A sword was not his thing anymore! Neither would the loud noise of a vuvuzuela right in his ears pleasure him or make his blood boil in any way. In fact, no one could really be sure where Saleh was at this very moment. He could have gone off on one of his distant journeys this very night, slipping between enemy sentries under cover of darkness and the footprint-obscuring rain.

The king did not voice his doubts anyway. He quietly mulled the idea of going over to Saleh’s tent to see if he was there to weigh his heart intentions and without warning he left the meeting for the young warrior’s abode. The king did not reckon with the possibility of stumbling on Saleh with the wife of one of his wartime generals. Apparently Saleh was busy spearing the wife of the chief spearheading the idea that he be made wartime commander-in-chief of the village armed forces.

The instant the king stepped foot in Saleh’s tent, he regretted ever doing so. He wished they had been groaning or moaning so he would have taken warning before going in unannounced. At least then he would have been able to maintain plausible deniability of the thrusting crime happening right before his eyes. Now not only would he have to execute Saleh for disobeying the wartime ban on sexual activities, he would have to expose the poor woman to the wrath of her husband. On the other hand, if the king chose to exempt Saleh from punishment, it would seem as though Saleh were above the law and above the king. And no one could be seen to be above the king.

This was a thorny situation but the king did not panic. He calmly regarded Saleh sit up slowly, eyes squinting at the august visitor, while the woman quietly tried to cover her pendulous breasts. She scurried out of the room in less than thirty heartbeats, as though she had hoped the king did not recognize her in the darkness of the room.

After she was gone, the king’s plan came together. Here and now, this situation was his leverage. Everything had fallen into place as though it were carefully planned. He would offer Saleh instant pardon for his capital offence conditional on his accepting to go on a mission the king felt was more important than leading the armies of the village, an offer he simply could not refuse. In the king’s mind, if Saleh agreed to protect the carver-soldier Izibor being sent to kidnap the heir of the enemy king, then he would be free of guilt and summarily pardoned. This way, the village would have her victory, Saleh would have his life, the king would have his dignity and everybody would be happy.

The king smiled graciously and opened his mouth to speak to the naked man.

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Pride lands you flat on your face;
humility prepares you for honors.
(Prov. 29 vs. 23, The Message)

The Balm of Gilead

The rook or castle, sits in the corner of the board at the start of the game. Materially equal to five pawns, the rook can move in a straight line in any direction on the board. It cannot move or capture in a diagonal direction.

The castling move is done to take the king to safety away from the centre of the chess battlefield. In this move, the king moves two steps (castle kingside) or three steps (castle queenside) while the rook moves to occupy the square just on the other side of the moved king.

Castling is the only move in chess where two pieces move at the same time and can only be done if none of the castling pieces has made a move before then. The move cannot be made if any of the two pieces or any square between the them is under attack.

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Gilead was just like its settlers, high and mighty, self sufficient, spacious, aloof and reluctant to commit, and yet always in a close relationship with the kings of Israel. But having flirted with Jephthah, Saul, and Ishbosheth in the past, Gilead was not exactly in King David’s good books. In fact, right at this time they were harboring his latest rebellious son, Absalom, as he camped with the armies of Israel on the rolling plains between the hills and the Jordan.

But Barzillai was different. He knew on which side the majority stood and yet chose to align himself with his friend the rightful king. He had not always been like this. When he had stumbled on David on one of his reflective strolls by the Jordan, he was instantly dismissive of the ruddy handsome boy. He had a big mouth too, and was going on and on about a bear he had just killed.

David was obviously not from around there. His “sh” speech defect gave him away as a mainland dweller. But there was a charisma and eagerness about him. You were almost forced to push your chest forward to assert yourself lest you be run into the ground by the young man’s incessant boasting and wild tales.

David would speak in short bursts, pausing to peer deep into your soul to elicit a question or a challenge to his position, before interrupting you again in perfect anticipation of what you were about to say. It was as though he became friends with everyone within two minutes of meeting them. Barzillai had reluctantly followed David over the hill to see the carcass of the so called bear. It seemed recently dead all right, but the vultures and scavengers had erased any sign of the blow to the head David claimed he had delivered.

Barzillai did not believe the young man totally, but he had a way of making you follow him even if all you wanted was to be present when his “divine favour” ran out. They kept in touch after David became king, often exchanging gifts of honey and sheep skins, as if reminding themselves of the first meeting they’d had. This time they would be meeting halfway as friends again after such a long time.

Had Barzillai come to believe in the special call of God on David? Not fully. He’d killed Goliath and had resounding success over the enemies of Israel, but still, the young man had such an appetite for controversy and scandal it was hard to see why God would choose such a man. Lying came very easily to him. The sacrifices and religious feasts were optional in his mind. The protests of the priests fell on deaf ears and were all returned by his flashing smile. Luck, yes, but divine favour? One could not be sure that wasn’t just another invention of the smooth talker.

Still Barzillai was the friend of the king. He was bringing needed succor and supplies to the weary king of Israel, and this time he would serve as his informant also. The names of the enemy standard bearers, the leaders of hundreds and fifties, the likely position of Absalom the coup plotter and even the names of the accompanying priests were all at Barzillai’s fingertips. Perhaps he would humour the king and give him the pleasure of teasing them out but in the end he would tell everything he knew.

The rewards would be great as usual: land, a daughter of the king as wife for one of his many sons, maybe even a mention in the annals of the king. But none of them would be as rewarding as the royal smile that would greet him upon arrival.

No reward would be ever as valuable as the personal friendship of the king.

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Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight,
a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.
(Prov. 27 vs. 9, The Message)

Chosen

The bishop moves only on the same colour of squares it begun the game on. A white bishop will therefore move diagonally both backward and forward in as long a straight line as possible unless it is obstructed by one of its own pieces or by an enemy piece. Any enemy piece in its line of fire can be captured by removing that piece and placing the bishop on the now vacant square.

Bishops operate best on open boards with a lot of freedom for movement. A bishop is worth three pawns in material value.

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Few men know what it feels like to be feared as gods. Those that know do not relish the burden.

If I had the slightest idea I would become this powerful or tormented I would have ended my life long before the day I was ordained the chief priest of Isiso.

I wasn’t taught by anyone. In fact, I was forbidden contact with my father until the day he died and I took over his role. I was only eleven at the time. But by then I had been starved to paralysis three times, abandoned in the wild a total of 3 years in all, and had killed a leopard. No, I had not done that last act by physical means. Those levels of persuasion I have no interest in recounting.

I had no knowledge of fear except what I saw reflected in the eyes of everyone else. They did not love me, but they worshipped the ground I walked on as the embodiment of the will of the guardian spirit of Isiso. My standing was not without claim either. The otherwise defenseless community had survived solely because of my exploits in battle.

The duties I had were not ceremonial or religious. Well, yes, I had to satisfy the blood lust of our guardian but that was only because I was the only one who would not be struck down by a mysterious ailment within days of doing so. My primary assignment was in the battle field during the years of the origins of the kingdoms of the West.

To fight with nature and the elements, one had to be at peace with them. I had heightened my senses by a rotational regimen of sensory deprivation, with brief days of recovery interspersed. I could see where the blood vessels of any animal flowed near the skin. I could taste your last night’s dinner in your sweat upon the first impression of your scent. I could hear where the blades of grass were disrupted from their bowing in unison before the wind by the form of some crouching predator pretender. And all the animals welcomed me as a creature of the night.

I was destined to die in battle. The only thing I didn’t know was which one. It didn’t matter. I was already dead. Dead to the world and human emotion, alive only to my senses and the voices in my head.

Presently I was on my way to destroy the bridge linking the ridge of Alkaban to the pass of Rithmor. By my projection I had overheard the plans of the Envites as they conducted their final war council meeting in their battle cave behind their leader’s tent. I had informed our king to delay crossing the river in return from his victory against the rebels of the North so as to trap them right where they would be starved to death upon the destruction of the bridge.

They must have known about these plans. Because upon my arrival at the bridge I was welcomed by their famous witch doctor. Glasa was skilled in the potions and in bird speak. I had heard about her but no one had told me she was that young. Perhaps her youth was the result of partaking in the blood  sacrifices of her deity. I had long eschewed such childish behavior when I noticed my heart rate was not what it used to be. The vain witch couldn’t be bothered I presumed.

Her beauty was not her only distraction. Perched on her shoulder was a large hunting eagle with talons the size of my gnarled hands. My eyes would be the obvious target. I smirked inwardly. Did she think I needed the dim light of the sun to present her carcass to the vultures? Still, this fight would have been easier if I had brought my scent markers with me. It would have ensured our fight would be hand to hand and without the distractions and surprises of the interfering forest folk.

I calmly addressed her in her native tongue. She smiled in admiration as I mimicked the voice of her king. She didn’t realize until then that I had been the leak by my astral eavesdropping. A needed edge for me. The respect of your enemy meant they would be reluctant to throw their full weight at you, possibly the only way they could have possibly stood a chance.

She released her winged messenger of death at me suddenly, without warning and without so much as a flinch. Thought controlled? Not bad. I picked a handful of dirt and sprayed it in the path of the huge bird. I didn’t blind it completely as I had hoped but I had created my first opening. Throwing myself forward into a body roll, I finished with a leap for her bag of charms. She sidestepped me as I expected and delivered a whack to my ribs with her staff.

The force of the whack told me all I needed to know. This fight would not last long. One more hit in the same spot and my ribs would puncture my heart and lungs. But I had created this opening intentionally to make sure such a blow did not happen again. Catching the staff under my arm at the point of impact, I threw my body momentum off centre, wrenching the staff from her grasp. If she’d been demon assisted she might have stood her ground, but since I was heavier than she, not letting go would mean tumbling to the ground with me. My grip was that strong.

Rolling to my feet, I tested the weight of her rod. There were poisoned thorns on the handle end of it which would no doubt kill the unwitting wielder. I laughed at them, eyes unsmiling, as I recognized the scent of the king cobra venom; slow acting poison, no doubt, to give the sufferer a chance to reach the antidote somewhere hidden in the bag, my original target. Well, I would not be so careless. Neither would she die by her poisons. She had earned my slight respect enough to grant her my quick alternative death.

I had the weather forecast down to the hour in my mind and presently the clouds began to gather. I gave her no time to notice as I jumped in again, exposing the thorns on her stick to her view. She seemed to know that I had changed my strategy and that her weapons were no longer of interest to me. She caught the stick in her white robes, performed a handless side somersault away from it and pulled it out of my hand. Her side bag and robes fell away from her body with the rod as she landed in cat like balance, revealing perfectly sized breasts and a skin as smooth as porcelain.

Her scent immediately divided into two equal strength halves. Apparently her clothes were dashed with an aroma to exactly counter the stench I now perceived oozing from her direction. What had she oiled her skin with? I was perceiving this offensive odour for the first time and to my sensitive olfactory nerves, it was mental torture.

Her body oil must have been an aphrodisiac mixed with a hallucinogen. I began to feel very relaxed very quickly. Apparently the pores of my skin were absorbing the ethereal potion, regardless of my refusal to breathe. I gave myself thirty seconds to act and ten to think. It was enough.

I staggered to the highest rock in the vicinity and lay down on it slowly in surrender. I meant the act to be a possum imitation so I could strike back like a rattle snake when she came over to gloat. But she took her time, keeping her distance well away from my reach but within my sense of smell. My endurance wore down as my limit of muscular control was exceeded. She snickered, watching with undisguised hubris.

She shouldn’t have been so confident. Right on cue my silver lined messenger passed overhead, teased along by the agitated winds, pregnant with rain, flashing smiles at the earth. I chose this moment to flash my smile at her too. Her face quickly  became as dark as the horizon when she looked up and realized what her end was to be. By then it was too late. Lightning flashed down on my chain mail from the sky, spreading all over the rock like a dancing river of magic and madness. I could withstand the shock as it was conducted quickly through my armor and into the rock.

She was not so lucky. Her war scent was quickly replaced by that of the singed flesh of a toad burnt alive. Her cries echoed off the mountains and she fell face down, a smouldering mass of lifelessness, quivering involuntarily at the overload of her nervous system.

It took me thirty minutes to recover from the induced paralysis of her biological warfare. When I did, I calmly walked to the bridge and set it on fire, leaving the scene without so much as a second glance at her body. Perhaps if we had met earlier under different circumstances, she would have been the mother of my successor.

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You have as little to fear from an undeserved curse
as from the dart of a wren or the swoop of a swallow.
(Prov. 26 vs. 2, The Message)

Stolen

The pawn never moves backwards on the board. Always one step directly forward, except when it is capturing another piece, in which case it advances to the forward diagonal square, removing the enemy piece in the process.

The pawn can only move two steps at a time on its very first move. If it does that and advances beyond an enemy pawn’s square of capture, it can be captured in passing (en passant) by the enemy pawn, but only if the capturing move is played immediately.

A pawn is the least valuable pieces on the board, but it is the only piece that can get promoted to any piece (usually a new queen) if it advances all the way to the enemy side of the board.

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Izibor lay behind the thatched roof hut obscured by the bushes in the dark, velvety night, waiting for his moment. He was grateful the night was wet after the gentle rain that evening. The slippery hills would slow the advance of the invading armies he’d heard wreaking havoc on the other side of the village.

They’d come without warning. There was no time for gossip to spread the rumours and frankly there was no need. With boom after boom, men were sent scrambling for new lines of defense. Mothers and children were separated from each other, all attempts to gather them to the market square for easier protection failing woefully.

Their protection was not his problem now anyway. He was under strict orders not to do anything else or go anywhere until he saw the signal to begin his mission.

The confusion in the thick undergrowth was unmistakable. Two enemy soldiers were ambushed by one of the many rope traps surrounding the palace. They must have been relying on servant information from the palace staff. If the spy had been any of the trusted guards, they would have known about the traps set for this purpose. Their cries rent the air as the nets were quickly set ablaze by the watchmen, signaling to the enemy that their plan to take the head of the village while everyone else was distracted by the fighting had failed spectacularly.

Checking one last time for his curved, carving knife, Izibor slid down the chute over the wall of the palace and over the surrounding moat, eyes and ears alert for anyone waiting to ambush him at the foot of the slide. Life had no duplicate and most times your enemy killed you before you could see him coming. There were no heroic deaths or parting speeches in battle, just silly mistakes made out of ignorance, over confidence and lack of experience. He lacked experience and hardly knew anything about the big picture of the battle, but at least he would not be a victim of over confidence.

His progress was swift and hassle free. Ironically, the first sign of danger was the appearance of one of their finest soldiers, Saleh, about halfway through the clearance between the two enemy villages. They exchanged acknowledging nods and plowed through the low grass without saying anything to each other. Saleh had to been told to guide and guard him all the way to the central hut of the other village. He was definitely going into very dangerous terrain.

The arrogance of the enemy was a bit disconcerting. It seemed all too easy. Had they been so used to oppression that they never imagined anyone would venture across the plain to attack? Well, the logical attack would have been a massive frontal one but this was far more insidious and effective. All of sudden there he was, right in the enemy market square, having strolled boldly through the gates the enemy had marched out of barely hours ago.

Saleh fell back to cut down any patrols that might have raised any alarms. The sneaky mission required absolute silence from start to finish.

After peeping in through a few windows, he found his target. The first son of Chele, the enemy king, lay sound asleep in a hut all by himself with his handmaid lying a few feet away. She looked like a light sleeper; he’d have to put her down quietly without kicking over the lantern burning close to her to keep her warm. He noticed she’d positioned herself between the lamp and the ten year old boy, who’d curled up in a fetal position to keep warm. The foolish maid couldn’t even put the crown prince’s comfort above her own. She deserved to be relieved of her life.

Minutes later, he stepped out with the sedated prince slung over his shoulder. This was leverage enough to end the incessant field raids during harvest and the sporadic interruptions of their food supply. The message would reach Chele by morning that his son was now being cared for by the enemy, being raised as one of their own, to be killed on the first sign of hostility from the Mambo clan.

This was his first and only ever wartime mission, but he had acquitted himself well.

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Don’t work yourself into the spotlight;
don’t push your way into the place of prominence.
(Prov. 25 vs. 6, The Message)

Let’s Play

I started playing chess before I was 9. My dad taught me the basics and I always found it fascinating.

I’m not as good as I should be though. I always play as white and against the computer. I lose so much sometimes I get discouraged and stop playing for long periods. I think one period lasted for over nine years. Of course some people say I play well but when they talk like that I just think “Please, that’s just because you’re not such a good player.”

For the next few days I’m going to be taking you through the basics of chess. This is weird because I won’t be teaching you how to play. Ok maybe a bit of the rules but that’s it. Mainly I’ll be talking about each piece and where they stand on the board.

image

As you can see in the board above every game starts with each side having the same 16 pieces each. The light square of the board is always set up to be on your right (don’t ever forget, light is right) and this means if you play as white your king is on the right in the centre. The light king is the right king even though he sits on a black square, never forget. He is usually the tallest piece and is often shown with a cross on his head.

Beside the king in the centre of the board is the queen. She insists on matching her colours so she always starts the game wearing shoes matching her dress. That’s right, the white queen sits on a white square and the black queen sits on a black square right at the beginning of any game. The queen is usually the second tallest figure on the chess board and she, not the king, is represented with a crown on her head.

The bishops are the trusted advisers of the king and queen, one for each, and they sit right next to their monarchs. The knights come next as you move out away from the centre. Usually the knight is represented by a horse head figure (what’s a knight without his horse, ey?) The blokes that sit in the far corners of the club are the rooks. They are also called the castles. You see that the knights are able to gallop into the castle when they feel like. All right, not exactly but you get the picture. The rooks/castles are represented by pieces with castle tower heads so it’s easy to recognize them.

The soldiers or laborers are represented by the small pawns in front of the ranking officers. Each side starts with 8 pawns each and you can recognize them easily by the fact that they are all over the place and are shorter than everybody else. (Short people have a way of making noise all over the place, don’t you agree? Ugh!) The bishops look like big pawns. Bishops and pawns are the only pieces without distinguishing figure heads so most times we arrange them after arranging all the others. Or we just arrange randomly if we’re so good because we’ve been playing so long.

So do you think you can arrange a chess board? Sketch a grid 8 squares long and 8 squares wide and write the names of the pieces where they are supposed to start. Try not to look at the picture up there until you’re done.

Did you get it right? 🙂 I hope so.

See y’all tomorrow.

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It’s better to be wise than strong;
intelligence outranks muscle any day.
(Prov. 24 vs. 5, The Message)