Zachary Goes Down Fighting
As Manfred advanced toward the front line to support Miriam, the castle suddenly became quieter. It took me a second to realize that Councilor Zachary had stopped jabbering advice into my left ear. With the opening created by Manfred's departure, Zach now had a clear line for joining in the battle, and would be heading out soon. He became preoccupied with studying the battlefield, looking for the best position to take.
To the best of my recollection, this is how the field of battle looked at that point. Manfred had moved behind Miriam and one of Blanco's cavalry units had advanced toward the crossroads ...
Blanco's foot soldiers were poorly arranged for fighting for the crossroads. In fact, Miriam was guarding an area where Sir Wilbur could take a very strong position inside Blanco's territory -- and there were no foot soldiers left who could drive him back! The only obstacle to sending Wilbur to this outpost was an enemy cavalry unit. Zachary could be used to first pin that unit down, and then capture it!
With wishes for safe passage, I sent Zach into Blanco's land, to a position that placed him within easy reach of Ivory and her band of thugs. But Ivory would not dare go after Zach, since he would be adequately protected by Sir Winston. Zach was well aware that it was likely he would sooner or later be traded to eliminate part of Blanco's cavalry. He did not complain.
Within moments of taking his assigned position, Zachary found himself under attack from a protected foot soldier. I had anticipated this move by Blanco, and after reviewing the situation one more time sent my orders to Zachary to take out the enemy cavalry unit before he was himself captured. This approach not only freed up the outpost for Wilbur, but it placed Blanco under direct attack.
As he had been doing all day, Blanco reacted instantly. He took Zachary using the fastest way available -- by dispatching a nearby foot soldier.
Adrenaline was pumping through my veins. My heart was starting to race. The struggle was shaping up beautifully and I could now send Wilbur to grab a stronghold in the center. But just as I was about to send the order, my own soldiers stopped me dead in my tracks!
I remember walking toward the messenger with my new orders for Wilbur to move to the crossroads. The next thing I knew, I was grabbed from behind. On each shoulder, I felt a powerful hand firmly pressing down and holding me in place. There was no pain, but I could move neither foward nor backward.
"Remove your hands from me!"
"Sorry, your majesty, but it's our sword duty to escort you immediately to the war room."
"Sworn duty, garbage!"
Why in the world should I take the time to move into heavily fortified quarters when we were on the verge of launching a major attack -- and I was perfectly fine right where I was?
Castle security would hear none of it. I was a prisoner in my own kingdom!
At least that's how I felt at the time. Later I realized that Blanco would've given his eye teeth to have had the protection I was given today. But it's embarrassing to remember the fuss I made at the critical time!
"Orders, schmorders! Don't you see! If we waste time fussing with the war room plan we're gonna miss our chance to overun them with our cavalry!"
"With all due respect, your majesty, half of our cavalry is pinned down."
"If Winston moves, there's nothing to stop Ivory -- she'd have a clear shot at you. And if the scouting reports are accurate, Blanco may soon send his own cavalry against Winston. If Winston can't move, we'll loose him and the position he's holding."
I simply did not want to go! Things seemed to going so well for us. There was no sign of any imminent threat that we wouldn't be able to handle. It just made sense to scrap those carefully made plans for moving our command center out of harm's way. The war room plan suddenly seemed like the sissy plan -- and one big waste of time!
Gotta hand it to security for making me go. I'm not ready to do it yet, but maybe someday I'll give them a medal or something ... "For your bravery, in standing up against your king for the good of the kingdom!"
I'll draw a sketch of how things looked after the war room plan was carried out. I'm getting a little tired of trying to draw all those flag signals Jonathan sent, so I'm also gonna try to devise my own set of abbreviations. I'll use numbers to show his signals with the yellow (north-south) flag and letters to show his signals for the blue (east-west) flag.
This position lasted about half a second. The scouts were right -- as soon as I set up the new command center, word came that Winston was under fire from the crossroads.
A Leap Without Looking
I had barely moved into the secure location for commanding our battle when the pace of the fight began to rapidly quicken. I'll use my abbreviated version of Jonathan's flag code to write where some of the key soldiers were at this point:
Like I said, this situation didn't last long. My troops must not have been the only ones who had recognized that Winston had been pinned down by Ivory. Someone from Blanco's side must've also seen this, because an attack on Winston came rapidly.
Enemy cavalry appeared at the crossroads, ready to pounce on Winston, just as I moved to the war room. Once I had moved from my central location, though, Winston was again free to move!
Blanco had again made an impulsive and weak move. Moving his calvary to the crossroads was a reasonable thing to do at some point, but Blanco had failed to consider that we also were carrying out a plan. The leap to the crossroads by the White Army's cavalry, done without studying our new position, now was premature and pointless.
There was NO way I was going to permit enemy cavalry to set up a strong base on our side of the crossroads. Such an outpost would allow Blanco to threaten attacks in locations throughout our kingdom. Intolerable! Without question, this danger had to be removed. I wrote out my order for delivery to Winston, who was now again free to take care of business.
Winston would be captured as the price to pay for squashing the intrusion. No doubt about that. Yet to make the capture, Blanco would have to weaken his position further. He would again need to divert part of his infantry, forcing one foot soldier to move in front of another. Each time he did this -- and this was now the second time -- his foot soldiers lost the ability to support and defend each other. He probably didn't realize it at the time, but his position was becoming hopelessly splintered.
From their lookout on Mt. Aerie, Jonathan and Daniel witnessed Winston being taken to the same holding cell as Archibald and Zachary. Their spirits were soon raised when they saw Wilbur move to the crossroads. Now it was our side that had a strong cavalry position in the middle of the battlefield! And Blanco had no easy way to push us out.
Our climbing scouts next turned their attention to the two queens. For Ebonie, they studied a possible line of attack on Blanco's position from the flank. For Ivory, they began developing a plan for distracting her and keeping her on the sidelines, away from where the main battle would soon be. But what would Blanco do next?