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