The Queen's Bishop and her Rook

The Queen's Bishop and her Rook

A Story by Jennifer Ryan
"

A short story I am writing that was inspired by a very popular game. I am sure it will be plain once you read it. This is part 1.

"

Part 1- A Plan is in Motion

 

Not so long ago the world was black and white. Black and white in the sense that there was North and there was South. The world was flat and easy to read. Two kingdoms ruled over the land. The Land of Ever Present Light was to the North, and to the South was the Hillside of the Expressions of Midnight. Both kingdoms were ruled by a king and a queen along with their subjects. For the most part, the two governing bodies got along quite well, even to go so far as being friends. Then the games began and all bets were off.

 

It was well known to all that the queen of the Land of Ever Present Light was dabbling in witchcraft, alchemy, and other types of devilry. It was even rumored that the king had been placed under a powerful spell that had left him completely immobile and unable to move. There he sat among his subjects in his throne room gathering cob webs. Sometimes the queen would have him moved from left to right to escape the burning of the sun filtering through the castle windows. Being the land of light the sun was especially bright and night hardly ever came.

 

No one knew why or how such hardship had befallen their king, but they wondered at the strange meanderings of their mysterious queen. Yasmina had only been a girl when she had been betrothed to the king. Her father, in his constant machinations for power, knew the girl's beauty was unsurpassed in the Land of Ever Present Light, and it was no secret the king's desire for pretty things. Long hay colored hair adorned her to her waist, and her emerald green eyes often flashed with gentle mischief and eagerness to learn. Her pert nose was set easily above her fair smile that neither maid nor fellow could resist. She craved the attention afforded her and was wont to be childish when not given this attention in two fold.  Therefore, the people often wondered if Yasmina had become jealous of the king's leering eyes when was first presented with the queen of the Expressions of Midnight.

 

A raven haired beauty, she had been at court with her husband at the last tournament. Not a man in the kingdom had been able to look a way. Her skin was as smooth as fresh turned cream and her eyes as blue as the clearest ocean fed stream. Her voice was lilting and musical and those around her hung on every word, for she often did not speak. She would just sit and watch with a sly smile upon her rosebud lips. She was an enigma to say the least and all the more mystifying by her hushed tone, and sleight of hand actions.

 

Her origins were all the more mysterious. No one had ever heard of her in either kingdoms and this made the people suspicious.

 

“Where are her people?”

 

“Why does no one attend her while she is at court?”

 

“What does she call herself?”

 

Only one knew the answers to such questions, and she had been sworn to secrecy, lest she suffer a most detestable fate. It was on this day this very person was on her way to the Hillside of the Expressions of Midnight. She had questions of her own, and they needed answering.

 

The day was growing darker as she passed out of the Land of Ever Present Light. The Hillside blocked out the light from the North often blanketing the land in a shady type of dim. It was also cooler and the woman wrapped her cloak about her closer.

The grass turned to moss as she pushed her horse on further. Bishop Mir was so good to have lent this spectacular beast to her. With golden flanks and a snow white mane it was the most beautiful animal she had ever seen. When she asked for a beast to convey her, she had no idea it would be from his own personal store.

 

“She's tried and true, and she will get there you swiftly,” he had said lovingly smoothing his rough gnarled hands down her long neck. Bishop Mir had been a permanent fixture in the kingdom for over 40 years. His son Lir was to take his place along with his other son Leegan. A bishop's purpose was to tend to the beasts and protect the king and Mir had felt he had failed ever since the king's bewitching.

 

“I must know what she has done” the woman thought to herself. These days her thoughts were plagued with guilt and wonderment at her own misunderstanding; a misunderstanding of what she truly asked for and her reasons for wanting it. Was she really so evil, and black hearted? Did she have no love for the honor of her Fathers? These were dark days, even darker than those she currently travelled.

 

In a fortnight she reached the castle. She had kept off the road and travelled through the woods even having to transverse the river at one point. Her clothing hung about her like scullery rags. She had no time for long sleep and had often curled up under a gracious tree's branches while the horse rested. This trip usually took much longer but time was no friend of hers.

 

That morning she saw the castle's turrets come into view. Their black and purple striped flags streaming from the tower tops were a welcoming sight of a journey nearly to its half way point. The foot soldiers stood their ground along the front, their domed helmets shining despite the oppressing cloudy day. Foot soldiers were often short and stocky. Their only purpose was to protect the castle from all sides and the king and queen inside, making their lives disposable for the greater good. As she approached at a medium canter one moved from his ranks placing himself in front of her stead.

 

“You there!” he barked. “State your business.”

 

“I have come to see the queen,” she replied evenly.

 

“No one sees the queen without proper authorization.”

 

The woman sighed. How was she to get past these fools? Blood shed was not what she was after.

 

“I need not authorization,” the woman said quietly. “I am one with an open invitation.”

 

The solider continued to stare her down, his eyes roving the area behind her.

 

“I come alone,” she reassured. “Please let me pass.”

 

Seeming to come out of the ether a fair hand was placed on the soldier's shoulder. At this touch he visibly relaxed as if just the mere whisper of this presence put him at ease. The figure was much taller than the foot soldier and even through the heavy garments the feminine figure was not disguised.

 

“It is all right Barston,” she said seeming to weave a melody with her melodic voice. “All are well. She can enter.” Then she turned waving the woman to come forward after her.

 

Once inside the gates the queen of the Expressions of Midnight removed her hooded cowl and confronted her guest.

 

“Don't mind them. They are but pawns after all. So tell me, Yasmina my pet, what brings you all the way out here?”

 

Yasmina slid from her horse scanning the many darkened lattices and entry ways of the court yard. ‘Yes,' she thought. ‘There he is.' The dark queen's knight errant, Maven, skulked from the shadows. He was never far being his lady's left hand.

 

“A'Lira, you know why I come.”

 

The dark queen nodded her head in ascent. “Let us go down below where there are less prying eyes” she said looking upward toward the castle turrets. Two rook keepers paced back and forth from the castle walkways glancing down at the curious gathering below.

 

“Bishop Tirk will take your beast,” the queen gestured at the squat man instantly at her elbow.

 

Did everyone here seem to come from the mist?” Yasmina questioned herself never daring to say it aloud. Diplomacy was a key factor in this exchange. She needed information and A'Lira was a temperamental sort. It was best to stay on her sunny side no matter how nonexistent it seemed.

 

As she followed the queen down to the castle keep Yasmina thought about the first of such clandestine exchanges between herself and the dark queen. Even then she hadn't seemed so enigmatic to Yasmina. She had felt A'Lira knew things, complicated, spectral things. She knew where A'Lira hailed from. The Pyronese Mountains had been no place for a young girl, and much like Yasmina's father, A'Lira's father had political aspirations of his own. Once his daughter was married to the dark king, his future was set as the king's right hand. He was a mountain man no longer, rather Dark Knight A'Moran.

 

Both father and daughter were conjurers of the dark spirits of the Pyronese Mountains. Long, long ago the people who lived the mountains beloved a demon resided beneath them. To keep this demon at bay they would sacrifice some of their numbers to keep the demon’s blood lust at bay. King Oliris banned such practices by all of his people or certainty of death would follow. None the less there were some that refused to give up the power such worship afforded them. They felt no allegiance to any king light or dark.

 

Yasmina knew this because her mother had once been one of the mountain folk herself. She talked of the dark days where one never knew if what part of your family would be taken to satisfy the demon. Some even wondered at the existence of such a beast. Her mother was one of them and had fled her home finding refuge in the village of the Land of Ever Present Light. It was there she met her father and lived a blissful life before her soul was taken during the birth of her third child. Yasmina's youngest sister, Tilly, was afflicted with a simpleton disease and a huge heart. She was currently part of Yasmina's court.

 

Mountain folk of old carried a brand upon the left side of their neck. A circle with a sword piercing through the sides diagonally was spotted by Yasmina the first day A'Lira was brought to court. “Why would she have such a mark when the king had outlawed the sacrifices much before her birth?” The only conclusion she came to was A'Lira was one of the rouges.

 

Once downstairs A'Lira approached a large basin set upon a marble pedestal in the middle of the room. The air was dank and wet and rivulets ran down the walls seeming like blood in the flickering candle light. Yasmina clutched her raggedy cloak to her and shivered slightly. A'Lira had confessed to her upon their fist meeting that the dungeon room reminded her more of home and was where she felt most comfortable.

 

“Well then Yasmina,” she said not looking up from her riveted gaze in the basin. Her nails clicked ceaselessly along the marble edge. “Why are not happy with the results?”

 

Yasmina cleared her throat feeling her anger lump at the back. “You didn't say it was to be like this. You told me he would be rendered impotent. You never mentioned anything like this.”

 

A'Lira laughed shrilly breaking her gaze from the basin. “And immobile isn't impotent?”

 

“How exactly am I to explain away this?” Yasmina asked spanning her hands across her abdomen. “The man hasn't moved or flinched in six months.”

 

A'Lira no longer able to brace herself held onto the basin as her laughter rocked her body uncontrollably.

 

“This is no laughing matter. My people think I did this to their king. They are talking of a trial.”

 

“Well my dear Yasmina just tell them you laid him out and had your wicked way with him. A kingdom must have an heir after all.” A'Lira blurted gulping in large gusts of air.

 

To the left Yasmina could her Maven snickering in the background. She wasn't sure he had followed until then.

 

“This will not do A'Lira. What of Lir? What will happen to him?”

 

“Your lover?” A'Lira asked. “What of him?”

 

“You are no help with this A'Lira. You said the powder you gave me was to make him impotent without his knowing. That way if there was a child bequeathed to Lir and I the king would believe the child his.”

 

“And what did you lover think of this? Knowing that his child would be passed off as another's?” A'Lira asked snidely.

 

“I spoke of this to Lir. I told him he could rest assured his child would be treated as royalty and there was no better fate.”

 

“He didn't like that though did he?” A'Lira asked derisively.

 

“He loves me,” Yasmina replied jutting her chin forward. She would not cowed by A'Lira and her sadistic behavior.

 

“Again I ask you Yasmina, what is the problem?”

 

Yasmina threw her hands up in exasperation. “Don't you see I am to be put to trial for witchcraft? They think I have put the spell upon the king and that I mean him harm.”

 

“You do Yasmina,” A'Lira shrugged. “You put the powder in his soup and made him stone.”

 

“Yes,” Yasmina hissed. “But you lied to me. I will not go down alone on this A'Lira. Your part will be known. The death of me and my child will not be in vain, nor will we go at it alone.”

 

“Are you threatening me?” A'Lira purred.

 

“Yes, yes I am A'Lira. You must reverse this spell. You must help me. I will face my fate with this b*****d, but you must help me recover the king.”

 

“Why should I do that? Everything is going according to plan. I see no reason to change things now.”

 

“What are you talking about A'Lira? What plan?”

 

A'Lira simply gazed at her with malice, her eyes never missing a single nuance of Yasmina's confusion. Comprehension dawned quickly.

 

“I will speak to Oliris myself,” she said bustling her skirts about her and turning to head up the stairs. Just then Maven blocked her exit, his eyes dark and hard.

 

“I wouldn't be so sure he would hear you out,” A'Lira cajoled. “You see to ensure the powder would work, I had to test it out myself. Dear Oliris shares the same fate as your king. You see dear Yasmina, you have served your purpose, and I no longer need or desire your assistance.”

 

Yasmina whipped around tears threatening to escape her lids. “You knew all along this would happen. You did this on purpose.”

 

“Dear sweet Yasmina,” A'Lira said rushing to her brushing the ill begotten water from her eyes. “You are so simple and sweet. The kind of queen my king would rather have. Nevertheless, I was not meant to be the background to any man's foreground. Unfortunately, for you, you will have to consider yourself captured!”

 

 

© 2008 Jennifer Ryan


Author's Note

Jennifer Ryan
I am looking for all types of comments on this. I feel I have found most grammer errors but if you see one please let me know. Also the content as always is up for review.

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First the scrutiny and detailed bitching. After that, the general feeling.

I have a problem with paragraph three, so I'm elaborating on it by issue.
1. No one knew why or how such hardship had befallen their king, but they wondered at the strange meanderings of their mysterious queen. (The use of 'but' here seems strange. 'But' as to say, they were concerned with the king's state, but more interested in the queen's mysterious meanderings. Or is this to say, 'no one cared much about the king, it was the queen that drew their attention. I think it is the first, that 'although' people wondered about the hardships of the king, the queen's mysterious ways are what really drew their attention.

Only one knew the answers to such questions, and she had been sworn to secrecy, lest she suffer a most detestable fate. It was on this day this very person was on her way to the Hillside of the Expressions of Midnight. She had questions of her own, and they needed answering. (This sounds like an interesting story. Maybe you should tell it, or give a little detail to make it seem real.)

Overall, I think you have an interesting piece. It's a good start and there seems to be a story ready to happen. Your choice of language has me wondering, though. I think at times you over write some of your material. Saying things simply is usually best. Yes, there are times for poetics and flowery prose, but generally, too much of it turns readers (and editors) off. I think you should slow down with the story and fill in some of the details, as well as work on making things clear to the reader. It's fun! Play with it, make it breath. Good luck! I hope I've helped. :D



Yasmina had only been a girl when she had been betrothed to the king. (Yasmina is the queen?)

Her father, in his constant machinations for power, knew the girl's beauty was unsurpassed in the Land of Ever Present Light, and it was no secret the king's desire for pretty things. Long hay colored hair adorned her to her waist, and her emerald green eyes often flashed with gentle mischief and eagerness to learn. Her pert nose was set easily above her fair smile that neither maid nor fellow could resist. She craved the attention afforded her and was wont to be childish when not given this attention in two fold. (no problem here)


Therefore, the people often wondered if Yasmina had become jealous of the king's leering eyes when was first presented with the queen of the Expressions of Midnight. (If Yasmine is the queen, what is she 'jealous' of? The King's leering eyes? Did she want leering eyes for herself? A bit confusing. If she is not the queen, then who is she? And lastly, who was presented 'with' the queen of the EM? Maybe your 'with' is supposed to be an 'as', but then again, I still don't understand why anyone is jealous.


I think much of this could be cleared up, including the paragraph which follows, by eliminating some of your pronouns and replacing them with specific names. Often as writers, we have the story so clearly in our mind that we forget to explain everything to the reader. One has to watch out for this. The reader shouldn't be treated as if dim, but being logical and clear helps relay the intended picture.


"Where are her people?"
"Why does no one attend her while she is at court?"
"What does she call herself?" (Who is this talking? People of the kingdoms? Tag a bit of description on there. Maybe this was said at the market, or whispered at the pub, or whatever. And if you don't have a specific person saying it, to make it more of a general 'towny' sort of thing, maybe consider using italics instead of quotes.







Posted 13 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Excellent story idea and you hooked me right away in it's telling. As far as grammar corrections... I'd go back through this a sentence at a time... there's quite a few extra or missed words about. I love your explanation as to why the kings hardly ever move, that's genius! Also enjoyed the play on light and dark. Nice twists and plot, overall pleasing read!

Posted 11 Years Ago


I don't really have anything critical to say about this. It is very clever and entertaining. I think if it is lll-received by anyone, it would be just because it's not that reader's personal preference. I know this isn't a unique thought, but I don't think I will ever look at a chess board the same again. I will say that I have always been offended by the significance of the king in chess. I just never thought to write my frustration into a story. I'm glad you sent me this read request. Please, keep them coming.

Posted 13 Years Ago


First the scrutiny and detailed bitching. After that, the general feeling.

I have a problem with paragraph three, so I'm elaborating on it by issue.
1. No one knew why or how such hardship had befallen their king, but they wondered at the strange meanderings of their mysterious queen. (The use of 'but' here seems strange. 'But' as to say, they were concerned with the king's state, but more interested in the queen's mysterious meanderings. Or is this to say, 'no one cared much about the king, it was the queen that drew their attention. I think it is the first, that 'although' people wondered about the hardships of the king, the queen's mysterious ways are what really drew their attention.

Only one knew the answers to such questions, and she had been sworn to secrecy, lest she suffer a most detestable fate. It was on this day this very person was on her way to the Hillside of the Expressions of Midnight. She had questions of her own, and they needed answering. (This sounds like an interesting story. Maybe you should tell it, or give a little detail to make it seem real.)

Overall, I think you have an interesting piece. It's a good start and there seems to be a story ready to happen. Your choice of language has me wondering, though. I think at times you over write some of your material. Saying things simply is usually best. Yes, there are times for poetics and flowery prose, but generally, too much of it turns readers (and editors) off. I think you should slow down with the story and fill in some of the details, as well as work on making things clear to the reader. It's fun! Play with it, make it breath. Good luck! I hope I've helped. :D



Yasmina had only been a girl when she had been betrothed to the king. (Yasmina is the queen?)

Her father, in his constant machinations for power, knew the girl's beauty was unsurpassed in the Land of Ever Present Light, and it was no secret the king's desire for pretty things. Long hay colored hair adorned her to her waist, and her emerald green eyes often flashed with gentle mischief and eagerness to learn. Her pert nose was set easily above her fair smile that neither maid nor fellow could resist. She craved the attention afforded her and was wont to be childish when not given this attention in two fold. (no problem here)


Therefore, the people often wondered if Yasmina had become jealous of the king's leering eyes when was first presented with the queen of the Expressions of Midnight. (If Yasmine is the queen, what is she 'jealous' of? The King's leering eyes? Did she want leering eyes for herself? A bit confusing. If she is not the queen, then who is she? And lastly, who was presented 'with' the queen of the EM? Maybe your 'with' is supposed to be an 'as', but then again, I still don't understand why anyone is jealous.


I think much of this could be cleared up, including the paragraph which follows, by eliminating some of your pronouns and replacing them with specific names. Often as writers, we have the story so clearly in our mind that we forget to explain everything to the reader. One has to watch out for this. The reader shouldn't be treated as if dim, but being logical and clear helps relay the intended picture.


"Where are her people?"
"Why does no one attend her while she is at court?"
"What does she call herself?" (Who is this talking? People of the kingdoms? Tag a bit of description on there. Maybe this was said at the market, or whispered at the pub, or whatever. And if you don't have a specific person saying it, to make it more of a general 'towny' sort of thing, maybe consider using italics instead of quotes.







Posted 13 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Understand that everything I say here is meant to help you refine your skill. You possibly have a future as a fantasy writer but you have a way to go.
I'm guessing that this is part of a much longer work, and is intended to build suspense - a sort of cliff hanger. The intention is there, but from the reader's perspective the tension is nonexistent. I think this is mostly due to the fact that you are using a lot of cliches and not describing the scenes so as to draw the reader into the world. I feel that, in your mind, you see this world clearly. However, I do not.
You should go through your story once you've finished it and immediately remove the cliches. You are trying to say something with the cliche, and you should search to find what it is. This should be done with details.
Examples: all bets were off, sworn to secrecy, bloodshed, plagued with guilt. . .et al. . .
Sentence used: Bloodshed was not what she was after.
Rewrite: She measured her words, lest he unsheathe his sword.

There's an old writer's maxim that you should acquaint yourself with -
"Never use three words when one will do."
Basically, what it means is you should not overwrite your sentences.
Example: he had said lovingly smoothing his rough gnarled hands down her long neck.
Rewrite: he said. His horse neighed and he caressed her neck.
Not the best rewrite, but I would omit that sentence anyway. Character details are excellent, try to use them in context when they have meaning.
Think of Hemingway and his curt sentences. Even he was not brave enough to overextend his reader's attention span.

You do A LOT of telling in this story. I think you see this world so clearly that it creates a distance between the words you write.
Try this. Close your eyes and envision this world. Now, try to describe it in a very straight-forward manner. If your protagonist is riding a horse beneath a full moon. Say - she rode over the path under a full moon. Get lost in the details of this world and don't try to push them onto the paper, let them fall in small pieces until a picture is painted, scene by scene and word by word.

Posted 13 Years Ago


0 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I absolutely love this concept and the way it is shaping up. I think you've got a real gem going here. It looks like you may be missing a word in the last sentence of paragraph 3, "king's leering eyes when was first" and I thought I saw another one further down but I can't find it again. The only other point I would make, and it's really one of style, is that at some points I'd like to read more detail. For example, four paragraphs up from the bottom, you write: "Comprehension dawned quickly." For me, it might carry a lot more drama and weight if you described her facial expressions, or whatever, that infer her comprehension rather than stating it. Again, I think this is a tremendous concept and I really want to read more, well done.
Coffey

Posted 13 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Not a bad piece. Nice build up so the reader wants to see what happens next. Nicely written.

Posted 13 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on September 21, 2008

Author

Jennifer Ryan
Jennifer Ryan

Indianapolis, IN



About
I'm a 34 year old mother of one and husband to one. I don't think I could handle more than one man to be honest. He drives me nuts as it is. My son is 12 and the joy of my life when I'm not reading or.. more..

Writing