The Knight noticed first. His closeness to the front line and the concerns of the foot soldiers alerted him.
“Report, King’s Knight,” the Queen said.
“It’s the pawns, your Highness.”
“What of them?”
“Well, I’ve heard grumbling along the line…”
“Bring me not the grumblings of the peasantry. Of what concern to me are their vulgar utterances?”
The King’s Knight paused at this. He looked around for assistance. He had already gone to the King’s Bishop, who showed nary a concern for anything but his ridiculous, pointed hat. He came to the King next, his King. Before he uttered a word in that direction, the Queen maneuvered around to intercept. Sometimes the Knight wondered who held the power.
“Your Majesty, they speak of unhappiness, of unfairness. I fear they will no longer fight for us.”
“What?!” The Queen’s outrage shook the audience. The Queen’s Knight and Bishop looked up from their conversation, attending her Majesty. “Their purpose is to fight for our King.” She gestured toward her husband, who glanced up before lapsing back into a nap on his throne. “What goal do they seek that is greater than lying down in sacrifice for something greater?”
The Knight doubted himself in the presence of this lady. Her reach extended across the board and her will travelled faster than his horse could carry him and in straighter lines. “I cannot guess their purpose, my Lady, I only report their words. I’ve heard more as well, news of an alliance with the Black.”
“Ridiculous! I will hear no more. Send the Rooks to cross their lines. Teach them the danger of loose lips and idle minds. Ours is an eternal struggle and the rules shall remain unchanged. Battle begins at dawn.”
“Yes, Dear Queen. I shall do this at once.” The Knight returned to his place, the Bishop recommenced his preening, the King continued his nap and the Queen’s men renewed their conversation.
The next day, as every day, the battle was joined. The pawns marched first on the field. From the rear ranks nothing appeared unusual. However, no pawn, black or white, fell in front-line combat. The battle developed. Soon the rear guard joined the commoners. The Bishops fell first, locked in by their own troops, incapable of escaping the ponderous enemy. The Rooks and Knights fell. The Black Queen was toppled.
The White Queen stood alone but for her impotent spouse, sure now of the pawns’ secret revolt. She retreated to her first position only to be cornered by a Black Pawn. Her crown fell from her head as she fell.
The pawn’s journey across the file brought him to this moment. The Queen’s crown sat untended at his feet. To grasp that crown meant promotion and power in a world of pawns; to leave it meant an end to his usefulness. He surveyed his comrades. The board sat with sixteen pawns and two powerless Kings. He let the crown lie.
Benjamin Jacobson writes; everything else is optional.