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Pawns do not have names. The will of Staunton the Creator, as told in the stories of the great Kings and Queens of the Board, is that all those who take up arms must surrender everything before they may seek Elo's favor. Once assigned to the file, there is little left for a pawn to do but move forward and await their inevitable sacrifice. Very few make it back from the Board on their first battle. Still fewer survive again. Yet, no matter how many fell, there were always more Pawns. Perhaps they sought to be promoted to the higher ranks, however that happened. Some Pawns chased rumors of fame and power to those who could reach the opposite edge of the Board. Or maybe, like her, they felt the calling to battle and to the Board as a part of their being. The Pawn of e file didn't know, and she didn't expect to live long enough to find out. If she did, though, she did wonder what it would be like to see the other edge of the Board.

The Pawn of e file was a veteran of many campaigns of the Board. For her first few fights, she had spent time as the pawn of b file, given no orders as the Knight leapt into the fray from the start. That all the fights she participated in were victories meant speculation and whispers that Elo favored her. For this battle, she had been promoted to the e file and tasked with protecting the king from assault. She knew that e file was a place of great honor on the Board, but she also knew very few who went out on the e file came back alive.

She was adjusting the straps on her shield, a last fidget before receiving the blessings of the Bishops for strength and victory in battle, when the Knight of g file told her that the King sought an audience.

This was the closest she had ever been to the King. She could finally see him in detail, resplendent in the finely filigreed armor he wore, sword at his side, helmet in his hand, looking like a seasoned veteran of the campaigns. His armor had the sign of Elo traced into it in gold, the metal reserved for Kings and Queens, filling the space where the sigil had been etched into the steel. Many Pawns longed for the time when they could wear metal at all, since steel was reserved for the Knights and higher-ranked pieces.

Before she could spend too long looking at his armor, the King smiled at her, and she thought she had heard him say something, but she could not recall anything more than the strong feelings of loyalty and adoration that she felt for her King.

"Your Majesty," she said, prostrating herself.

"Rise, Pawn of e file." The King gave her a critical eye. "Yes, you do seem to have Elo's favor about you." The King sighed, shifting slightly, becoming less regal and more like any other piece. "Our General has delivered the battle plan for today. You have been selected as the first to go into battle."

"May Elo favor me." She spoke the words, but her heart sank. The beginning of the battle would leave her exposed to the opponent for far too long to be able to safely return. She had grown attached to life and the victory fanfares that had accompanied her return. She had begun to entertain the idea of surviving long enough to retire from the Board.

All of those things vanished from her with the words of her King.

"...to infiltrate the enemy ranks and retrieve their Queen. We believe she is ready to defect and provide us with information that will help turn the tide of this war and bring it to a swift end."

"You," he said, smiling at her, "are going to find your way through the enemy's defenses to the Queen, collect her and bring her back to us. The General will do all he can to keep you protected as long as he can."

The Pawn looked at the King. This was unlike any battle she had been in before. Pawns held the line and attacked and were sacrificed for the good of the battle. They did not venture to the enemy's territory, and they certainly did not engage in spying. But this was the plan. The General directed the battle. It was Elo's command. Whether the General appeared to be a strategist or a child, their plan would be executed faithfully. The Pawn would do as commanded.

As she thought about it more, a small thrill ran through her mind to counteract the despair she had felt earlier. She had been chosen for a special mission by the General, to deliver victory to them. If she could survive the battlefield, she would bring them great glory and honor.

If. The thought brought her racing mind back to the present. No sense in getting ahead of herself. The General had promised protection, but the Board had a way of making everyone's plans crumble very swiftly.

Once the battle horn sounded, the Pawn rushed forward on her file, trying to put as much distance between herself and the battle line, wishing there was some sort of place to hide herself. The Board was flat, with nothing to hide behind, or under, or around. All she could do was hope not to be seen or targeted by anyone else. After two squares, the force that kept her from moving sprang up, obscuring her vision. This was the part of the fight she hated the most. In practice fights, many of the Pawns had only a vision of something else bearing down on them before they were declared defeated. She wasn't sure if this was how it played out in real battles, as, obviously, no piece had come back from their death to describe what had happened, and the obscuring force made it impossible to watch what happened to other pieces. It made it easier not to connect to them if they could be gone at any time.

An opening in front of her brought her attention back to the fight, and she jumped into the next square before the opportunity closed itself off. The sounds of the fighting around her seemed louder than they normally did. E file was much closer to the battle and everything sounded much louder and more menacing. She could hear one of the Knights being pulled off his horse nearby, with a wet sound preceding silence.

The silence stretched on for too long, with no sound for minutes on end, before a space opened up for her to continue into. She crept into the space, realizing she was incredibly close to the other side's line. The plan was still on. And she still needed a way to get to the Queen.

After some time, a movement to her side caught her attention. One of the other Pawns was striding forward, trying to gain ground, not realizing she was right there. Realizing her opportunity, she silently snuck up behind him and snapped his neck.

Dragging him into the square he just left, she set quickly to stripping him of his outfit: boots, trousers, jacket, shirt, and a helmet to indicate his status as a Pawn. She threw her own clothes off, saying a silent thanks to Elo for the ritual of binding that women went through before battle. The Bishops said that Elo's demand to give up everything included the things that separated men and women. The Knights said death was preferable to what happened on the battlefield to women. So the Queen decreed everyone would bind, including herself, so that none would be targeted just for being women. In this case, it also meant the Pawn did not have to worry about the clothes betraying her subterfuge in a moment of action.

The Pawn redressed, appreciating the fine weave of the copious amounts of silk used in the clothing. Her own outfits had always been more about putting up enough padding and thickness to protect herself before any thought of aesthetics. The Pawn wondered what sort of monarch would send their soldiers out in these uniforms - they would not survive a single sword stroke, much less anything fired from a bow. The Pawn knew that her own life was treated lightly by the King and the General, but to see it so obviously in this uniform seemed like openly mocking Elo.

The Pawn finished dressing in the new outfit, testing its movement, and feeling a small shiver as the silk glided effortlessly over her body, as if she were being gently caressed by the clothing. Perhaps these uniforms did have a use after all.

Using a small sock for "authenticity", she made a quick adjustment to the trousers before waiting for the next space to open up. When it did, she strode confidently into the square, as if she belonged there. The Queen would be right before her on the next move. It should be a simple enough matter to get her and bring her back across the Board. It would look like a strong attack from the other side, and nobody would know what had happened.

She had not expected the Queen to be so beautiful. Her side had always thought of functional dress as the highest compliment, and routinely praised plain and simple designs and colors. This Queen understood the silk dress she wore, how it clung to her body, how to stand so that the gold thread around the slit caught the light and drew the eye up her legs, with just a hint of skin in between the top of her stockings and where the slit ended. The Pawn tried to avoid staring, but she could not determine how, other than by magic or force of will, the top of the strapless dress stayed on given how much and how deeply it showed the Queen's cleavage. Her gloves were almost sleeves in their own right, ringed in gold and silver where they stopped just before the shoulder. It had been a long time since the Pawn had seen anything like this.

The Queen looked at her, and the Pawn froze. Far too late, she realized that if she were indeed a Pawn for the other side, she should be looking the other way, back toward the battlefield. The beauty of the other Queen had taken her off guard at the crucial moment, and now the gambit was going to fail. The Pawn said a silent prayer to Elo in the hopes that her sacrifice would bring favor on her General...

...and then the Queen looked away from her, toward some other part of the battlefield, and glided off to the Pawn's left to some other square. The Pawn exhaled the breath she had been unknowingly holding. The square the Queen has just occupied was open. She waited a little while longer to be sure that there wasn't another part of the battle that the General wished to attend to, and then sprinted for the final square, remembering at the last minute to turn around and back into the square rather than going in headfirst.

As she crossed into her newest territory, the Pawn felt a small tingle, in what she assumed was anticipation of the next move. There was a distinct feeling of potential, as if the Board were waiting for her to make a decision.

Before she could try to discern where the Queen was, the sound of a horn echoed across the Board.

One of the bishops nearby exhaled in relief. "I was sure I'd have to go out there today," he said to the Knight next to him. "I know we're supposed to be spiritual leaders and everything, but I'm not ready for what's beyond the Board yet."

"I know," the Knight said, climbing off their horse and giving the Bishop a kiss. "We're supposed to be fierce warriors with no attachment to our lives, but I still want to spend a long time with you." The two of them held hands as they stepped off the back of the Board, heading away from the battle site. The Pawn had never seen this before. Pairings on the Board were expected, in whatever combination struck someone's fancy, and she had seen that later stages of the battle often created pairings based on who was left, rather than who was attractive. What was strange to her was the wholesale abandonment of the Board by the opposing side. She had been taught that nobody left the Board until the battle was done. There were rumors that some tried anyway, but those stories always ended with the deserter being sacrificed for their disloyalty.

She knew that tonight, her pieces would camp in their field tents and tell stories of the great battles of the world, boasting of their exaggerated roles in bringing victory on the Board. Staying on the Board was a way of bonding with the other pieces and a way of giving honor to Staunton and Elo, showing the devotion they had to the roles they had chosen. To see these pieces not giving their full effort and time to the battle before them made her want to shout about their cowardice, to tell them they committed an offense to the gods they claimed to follow, but she held her tongue. She still had a mission to achieve. No sense in being found out as a spy this close to success.

"Ooh, you're still here," someone said at the Pawn's side, taking her arm in a possessive embrace. Looking to her side, the Pawn froze in terror. The Queen was right next to her, too close for her disguise to work, lightly tracing a pattern on her arms. The Queen's proximity made it impossible for the Pawn not to notice the subtle details she hadn't seen from farther away - there was a pattern woven into the silk of the Queen's dress that resembled the Board, with squares and checkering that made the dress lighter and darker, which made the Pawn's previous idea of the curviness of the Queen's body much more detailed. Realizing that she was staring, the Pawn reddened in embarrassment. She was a soldier with a mission, not a girl looking at dress models.

The Queen laughed a tiny laugh in her ear. "Oh, I don't mind when the boys stare," she said, giving her arm a squeeze.

"It helps to keep morale up." The Queen smiled at her, and the Pawn felt her heart flutter, despite her best efforts to keep it still.

"I think," the Queen drawled on, "that I know exactly whom I'm going to capture for this evening. Are you up to the task?"

"Yes, Your Majesty." The Pawn said before she could think. Her body started to move with the Queen's lead, a happy feeling building in her mind and body to have been helpful to her Queen. The touch of her Queen, and her closeness, and the perfume she was wearing, was heady and filled the Pawn with warm and fuzzy feelings. So long as her Queen was by her side, the Pawn didn't care about anything else.

It was only when the Queen left her in a room well away from the Board that the Pawn returned to her senses. Taking a quick assessment of her surroundings, the Pawn realized her mission had become much more complicated. This was clearly a bedroom, and the Pawn had no idea how far away from the Board she had been taken.

Before she could think too much more about her predicament, the Queen entered the room from a side door. A corset of similar material and color to the dress cradled the Queen's breasts above what looked to be very comfortable underwear. The same socks, no, stockings, the Pawn corrected herself, the Queen wore on the battlefield completed the ensemble, giving the Pawn the distinct impression the Queen chose her half-dressed state deliberately.

The Pawn had only seen clothes like these before by accident, when one of the Bishops had stumbled out of a tent in a drunken haze, clearly flushed with enjoyment. The Pawn had not known where such things were available until now, and now she understood why she had not seen that Bishop again after that moment -- consorting with an enemy was potentially punishable by death.

The Queen's return to the room had also brought back some of the fuzzy feelings, but the Pawn held on to the need to complete her mission, and it helped keep the feeling away long enough to give her some space to think. "What are we doing here?" asked the Pawn.

"You," the Queen said, moving in closer to her, "are a very bad spy."

The Pawn felt a twinge of shame replace the happy feelings she had been fighting.

"I suppose you're here to try and convince me to join you and fight my own subjects?" The Pawn nodded, trying to hide her face from the Queen's gaze.

"Did you get my letter, then? The one that said I was ready to go to your side and tell you everything?"

The Pawn nodded again, her shame increasing. The Queen leaned close to the Pawn and cradled her face in her hands. Even though the Pawn should have felt fear, she couldn't help her body leaning into the gentle touch.

"Oh, spy. Why would I give up what I have here so that I can go camp in the woods with all of you? I saw the way you viciously dispatched my Pawn with that en passant of yours. You all shout about the favor of Elo, but you're losing, dear, and it's worse every time your side gets in a fight. Why else would they send a little Pawn like you on such a clearly foolish mission?" The Queen let go of the Pawn's face and took the Pawn's hands in hers, smiling at her with what seemed to be genuine affection.

"Because..." the Pawn said, struggling against her own desire to let go of everything and be happy with her Queen, "...what did you do to me?"

"Oh, that," the Queen said. "That's just the rules of the Board. You see, you don't actually have to kill someone to remove them from the board. All you have to do is use the right word. Like I did with you. I capture you, and you'll do what I say."

The Pawn felt the force of the Queen's word and sank to her knees. "Yes, Your Majesty," she said again, thrilled to be in the presence of the woman that made her life complete, all vestiges of shame erased.

Several minutes, in the Pawn's estimation, passed before the effect began to fade. When she returned to herself, the Queen was lounging in a chair, looking bored.

The Queen sighed. "It's a strong word to use, though, when all you want to do is make sure you're not going to get hurt by your playtoy for the night."

"Playtoy?" The Pawn felt elated at the pleasure in her Queen's voice, although she wasn't sure if that was just the aftereffects of the word.

"Yes, little Pawn. Ever since I saw you crossing the Board today, I knew I wanted you tonight. I think, though, I will like you better without this dreary uniform on. Take off that helmet. Let me see your hair."

The Pawn frowned. "I'm not your Pawn," she said.

The Queen glared at her. "I don't have to ask," she replied, leaning in to stare at the Pawn. "But you," she whispered, "are going to be found out and killed if you keep behaving like a spy instead of a good Pawn."

"So what does that mean?"

"It means that unless you want a swift trip to the grave, you're going to wriggle that attractive body of yours out of that horrible uniform and give me plenty of reasons not to send you there."

The Pawn fumbled with the strap under her chin, her hands slipping on the buckle a couple times before getting it off. "Here, Majesty," she said brightly, searching for approval. She thought there might have been a flicker of disappointment on the Queen's face at seeing her close-cropped hair.

"Oh, my Pawn. They have no idea what to do with you, do they?" The Queen came in close to the Pawn, examining her more carefully. "You could be a Queen yourself, if they'd only let you. Such beautiful hair, gone to waste."

The Queen ran her fingers into the Pawn's hair, and the Pawn whimpered involuntarily at the attention.

"Now," the Queen hissed, grabbing the Pawn's hair in the back and pulling her head upward, "kneel in the presence of your Queen."

The Pawn went to her knees, guided by the Queen's hand.

"What should I do with you now, Pawn? You still look too much like one of the boys to me. Should I take off what's up here..." the Queen put both of her hands on the Pawn's chest, gripping firmly and giving temporary definition to what had been a loose-fitting shirt and vest, "...or should we see what you're hiding down here?" The Queen moved one hand down the Pawn's chest as she spoke, culminating in a very firm grip on the sock the Pawn had put in earlier.

The Pawn attempted to speak, but only squeaked with pleasure as the Queen squeezed her chest again. She nodded her head and hoped that was enough. The Queen's hands disappeared from her, and in their stead, the Pawn could only hear the command of the Queen.

"Pawn, those clothes do not suit you. Take them off."

"Yes, Majesty." In her mind the Pawn was trying to justify her behavior as only playing a role to appease the Queen. Despite this, the Pawn felt something in her core respond to the Queen's orders. Another part of her mind hesitated. She wanted to keep the clothes on and luxuriate more in their soft touch. These were the softest, finest clothes she had worn, and surely there was a way that she could keep them on her body for a little while longer?

"Pawn," the Queen snapped, "strip those rags off now." The Queen's command burrowed its way into her, pushing hard on her body to obey while she tried to resist, filling her with the fear of what would happen if she disobeyed, telling her the clothes she had thought were fine and beautiful were worthless and shameful to be wearing in the presence of her Queen, slowly drowning her mind with its insistence.

As the tension became unbearable, the Pawn gave in to the pressure. She began to undo the buttons from the vest as swiftly as she could, discarding the vest in front of herself and starting on the shirt, anxiously trying to get the clothes off and resolve the problem. She knew this wouldn't help her mission for her King, but it would keep her alive for tomorrow, and more importantly, it would stop the iron poker burning its way into her mind. She could keep her mind from totally succumbing by obeying with her body, although a large part of her mind was arguing that giving in totally would be a much better choice.

The Queen caught her hands after the first button of the shirt. "Slowly, Pawn. Let me see," she whispered in the Pawn's ear. "Do you trust me?"

The Pawn cried a soft mix of pleasure and frustration, and nodded.

"Do you need me to convince you?"

The Pawn shook her head.

"Good."

Something in the Pawn's mind gave in to the closeness, the power crackling in the room, and the Queen in front of her, so completely in control of everything. She hated the uniform because it displeased her Queen. She had to go slowly because her Queen commanded her. Her Queen was touching her and whispering to her, running her hands over her body, dragging her nails occasionally, leaving trails of fire in her wake. The shirt prevented the Queen's scratches from drawing blood, but feeling the fabric pressing on her transmitted the Queen's demands of her just as well. The Pawn's desire to touch back threatened to overwhelm her, making it hard to concentrate on her task, but her Queen's command held her hands steady even as her body jumped and writhed at each new touch.

Finally, she had the hated shirt free of her, and the Queen swiftly relieved her of the top binding keeping her breasts in place. After spending so long wrapped in silk, the rough cotton seemed to drag itself across her skin, a scourge reminding her of her home and how ashamed she should be to have wanted or desired such things as silks, or even the affections of someone else.

The air on her body made the Pawn shiver, but her hands continued to work the trousers and try to find a way to get them off while she stayed kneeling, the shame of her arousal mixing with the frustration of incompetence. The Queen watched while she struggled and her frustrations mounted, amusement twitching at the corners of her mouth.

"Pawn," she laughed. "Come here."

The Pawn struggled to turn around and face the Queen, finally working the rest of her clothes free and throwing the hated things off.

"Good Pawn," she said, ruffling the Pawn's hair as the Pawn resumed kneeling in front of her.

The Pawn beamed with pleasure, shame slowly starting to recede in the presence of her Queen.

"You've earned a reward," the Queen told her. "You may remove one of my stockings."

The Pawn latched on to the Queen's left stocking immediately, gently using her hands to pull slowly down, marveling at the smoothness of what she was holding, kissing the Queen's leg as she did so. Clothing could be comfortable everywhere, she realized. The suffering she had felt from coarse weave and unskilled construction could have been stopped at any time. It probably would improve morale.

When the Queen turned the other side to her and bade her do the same, the Pawn gave the other leg equal care and kisses, no longer caring about acting. The Pawn made for the laces of the corset on the Queen, but the Queen spun away from her and hauled her to her feet, pinning her hands behind her back. It was only at this point the Pawn realized the Queen had been standing in front of a window. A window that had not been open when she first arrived. She squirmed and fought the Queen's hold, terrified of being exposed to anyone who might look in.

The Queen tightened her grip in response. "Pawn," she said, every ounce of royal authority she could muster in her voice, "stop."

"Majesty," the Pawn said, "they will see."

"Let them watch," the Queen replied, clear amusement in her voice. "You still don't understand. The pieces here obey me. One word from me and they'll forget everything they heard tonight. Think about it, Pawn. The only reason you are still alive right now is because I like watching you struggle and give in. So," she said, kissing the Pawn, "you can either be exposed as the pretty thing I'm going to fuck in front of this window, or," and here the Queen's voice replaced amusement with pure steel, "exposed as the spy in my bedchamber and killed in front of this window."

The Pawn froze, giving the Queen the opportunity she needed to position the Pawn right in front of the window.

"Oh, Pawn," she said, laughing, "if I wanted you dead, I would have killed you the moment I touched you. Now, stay put," the Queen commanded, before releasing her grip.

The Pawn stayed, without moving, even when the Queen began to kiss her neck.

"Good Pawn," she whispered in the Pawn's ear, before resuming her kissing, one hand on the Pawn's breast, gently squeezing, while the other hand searched for the most intimate place the Pawn had, delicately and gently rubbing on her while her body shuddered at the touch.

With a small cry, the Pawn ground herself against the Queen's hand, forgetting about the window and who might be watching or listening as she surrendered to the Queen's increasingly urgent demands.

The Pawn sank to her knees after the Queen finished her for the third time, unable to stay standing for any longer. "Tired, Pawn?" The Queen was gently mocking.

"Yes, Majesty."

"You're not finished yet, Pawn." The Queen stood directly in front of the Pawn and seized her hair again. "I'm not satisfied yet," she declared, thrusting the Pawn's head into her own body.

The Pawn inhaled the scent of the Queen before trying to replicate with her tongue the same thing the Queen had done to her with her hands. The Queen moved the Pawn's head to give the Pawn a better angle, using her hands to direct when the Pawn should apply herself vigorously and when she should be more gentle. The Pawn realized, on a much deeper level, the virtue of being able to use her tongue as well as her sword as she brought the Queen to another happy, fist-clenching, hips-grinding moan. Her own hands were busy practicing the ministrations the Queen had just done to her, trying to commit them to memory for later.

The Queen's stamina as a lover surprised the Pawn -- it took many shouts of pleasure from the Queen before she released the Pawn's head and ordered her to remove the Queen's corset and come to bed. As the Pawn marveled at the intricate arrangement of strings, running the fine material through her hands, she remembered the last time she had pleasured herself.

The barracks had been empty for a few minutes while the other Pawns were on maneuvers. She had climbed into her bed on the top bunk, quickly undid the rough pants, put a hand into her underwear and thought of the cute Pawn who slept in the bunk her while she played, until the small kick that had indicated satisfaction with her efforts. After finishing herself, she re-fastened her pants, re-set her face to the serious expression every Pawn was expected to cultivate, and went back to the chores of cleaning and organizing. Pleasure was not spoken of among the Pawns. What she had just done with the Queen would have been grounds for expulsion, and possibly death.

Rather than shame, though, she felt pleased. And she wanted more of this.

"I'll go with you," the Queen said as they arranged themselves on the bed, the Queen behind the Pawn so as to allow her to touch the Pawn in any way she wished and to deny the Pawn the same privilege. "The King keeps me here, hoping that one day I'll come to his bed willingly, but I can't." The Queen sighed and kissed the Pawn at the curve of her neck and shoulder. "He slaughtered them all. My entire back line, and my Queen! He would have killed me, too, but he told me that I would be more valuable as bait during his next conquest. The notes are the way he gets others to sacrifice their best pieces on foolish missions. You're the...first that I've actually gone to bed with," she said, a note of embarrassment in her voice. "If I can have you," she whispered, "I'll tell them whatever they want to know."

The Pawn's heart leapt in her chest. Her mission would be successful, and she would be able to keep her Queen forever after. Maybe they could find a life outside the Board. The thought of them together cheered the Pawn before sleep borne of exhaustion claimed them both.

The Pawn woke to the sound of drums and shouts. She sprang from the bed, assuming she had been found. Looking around the bedchamber, she realized with growing horror that her Pawn disguise was missing. She had been betrayed! And now she would be facing her death alone. And naked.

One of those could be fixed -- there was a dress and underthings nearby, which she hurriedly put on.

Going to the window, she saw a group of Pawns surrounded by Knights in the nearby courtyard. The drums stopped. The Pawn gasped when she saw the Queen, dressed in the Pawn's clothes, in the middle of the trapped groups.

The Knights parted and the King strode into the square, a roll of parchment in his hand.

"You have betrayed me, Pawns," he shouted. "One of you despoiled my Queen last night and displayed her for the world to see. If none of you come forward to confess your crime, you will all be executed. This is your final chance."

The Pawns all shouted angry denials, the Queen joining in with them.

The Pawn tried to move her body, to run, to shout a confession, to do anything, but all she could do was watch as the Knights closed in and began to fight the Pawns.

The battle looked like it might be close, once the Pawns started taking the weapons of the Knights, but the King strode to the group of warriors, seemingly unaffected by the roar of the battle around him. As he closed the distance, the Pawn thought she heard him shout something, but the wind and the sound of the battle prevented the words from reaching her ears.

The effect of the word was immediate and visible -- all the Pawns stopped fighting, including the Queen. Her expression changed from fury to tranquility, even as the Knight she had been locking blades with drove his sword into her and then kicked her off it.

Watching the Queen die released the lock on the Pawn's mind and body. Images rushed back through her head, a conversation just remembered.

The Queen had been dressing herself in the Pawn's clothing. "I will try to get out early in the morning to the Board. You can guide me back across to your camp by going around the fighting, and then we'll both be free and happy. Just remember to behave like the Queen you are, and everything will be fine. You won't remember that we made this plan until you get out to the Board, so don't worry. I'll be there waiting for you to arrive. Don't be late!" The Queen had kissed her, one last passionate reminder of the night they had spent together.

"Wait," the Pawn had said. "Why? Why are you dressing in my clothing?"

The Queen had smiled. "Why are you here, Pawn?" she asked.

"Because my King commanded me to find you and bring you back."

The Queen's smile turned sadder. "Exactly. How are you planning on sneaking me past my own soldiers, Pawn? I'm too visible as a Queen. When our Kings command us, we obey, but the commands a Pawn receives are different than those a Queen must deal with."

The Queen opened the door to the bedchamber and then spoke a word that the Pawn could not remember, but that had sent her back to sleep.

A knock at the door brought the Pawn's attention back to the present. "Majesty, the King requests your presence on the Board." The Pawn almost objected, but remembered that if she wanted to return alive, she would have to be the Queen.

Trying to put on her best regal expression and walk, the Pawn opened the door, strode past the Pawn at the door without looking at him, and left the castle. She stepped her way to the Board with a surety in body that was not matched in her mind. Settling into the place where she had seen the Queen last, the Pawn waited for the horn to sound that would begin the battle.

Once everything was in place and the battle resumed, the Pawn looked to her right and saw one of the Knights who had been present in the morning's slaughter. A cold fire began to burn in her chest as she moved in his direction.

Crossing into his square, she placed a smile on her face, a plan hatched from the final realization of what her Queen had been saying from this morning. "Knight," she called up to him, "could I capture your attention for a moment?"

"Yes, Majesty," he said, immediately climbing down off his horse and kneeling at her feet, his eyes completely focused on her.

"Knight," she said, allowing some of the rage to color her voice, "demonstrate for me. Place your sword where it would need to go if I were to kill you."

"Yes, Majesty." He drew his sword, handed it to her, and placed his hands on his chest. "Here, Majesty. If you push hard enough, you will puncture my heart and I will die, secure that I have served you well."

"Here?" she said, touching him with the point close to his hand.

"Here," he said, guiding the sword to the proper place.

"One last thing, Knight. You killed your Queen this morning. You should feel shame," she snarled as she shoved the sword into him up to the hilt, "that you killed someone you loved so much."
The Knight's face twisted in pain as the power of her command and the sword pierced him. Grasping the sword, as he screamed of loss and betrayal, he attempted futilely to push it further through himself. Her smile brightened as her eyes took on the scene, the Knight crying as he perished at the hands of an angry Queen.

Once satisfied, she turned to the opposite direction, to see the King, sword drawn, barreling in her direction. She saw in his eyes the reason why he had slaughtered so many to try and find one, including her Queen. The aggression, the avarice, the desire to possess and to destroy what could not be captured radiated from his very being. He could not have beheld the beauty he had attempted to keep imprisoned. He acted in rage because someone had captured what he considered his.

Because of him, she had lost her Queen. Because of him, she had lost love. Because of him, the war continued.

She waited until he was in the same square she was, and then, she let out all of the fire, rage, and grief she had been carrying with her since the morning. It formed into a word, and then it became a Word, powered by her feelings and her direction, and when it was ready, she loosed it on him.

"Checkmate."

The King stumbled, then tripped, then fell to his knees, dropping the sword as she stalked him, her Queen's knife in her hands. He looked at her, still uncomprehending, as she bared his throat.

In a single motion, she drew the knife across his neck and stripped the crown from his head. She smiled as he clutched and gagged and, eventually, slumped, lifeless.

Fingering the crown, she raised it to the sky first, and then settled it on her own head. A Queen needed subjects. A Queen needed a country. And, just perhaps, a Queen knew that under her rule, there would be no more need for Kings, no matter which part of the Board they intended to control or which Queen they intended to destroy.

She would free the world from Kings.