Meditation of the Siege
How about a nice game of Surround and Siege?
Two flying... creatures were perched across from one another. One was clad in red, the other in white. In between them was some board. It was shimmering... it was a shimmering blue board. They were playing Siege. They must have been some immortals, above and beyond our bickering.Go (also Weiqi or, in the Halorin world, Surround & Siege) is a tactical and strategic game in which players strive to surround more territory than their opponent. Multiple players may be involved, and board shapes can differ, but the basic rules are remarkably similar across the species divide. The Meditation of the Siege is one of the three meditations of Kali-worshipping religion: one designed with this game of go, to keep your body physically fit, mentally awake, and morally straight.
The Kalian League grew quickly, and it seemed almost as if it would break free of the Salt Range and control much of Eastern Zentland. But they were stopped by the unlikeliest of heroes: a peace-loving prophet.The Kalian League grew rapidly, testament to their size and fortuitous location. After pacifying the Salt Range, it eyed the eastern corner of Zentland, preparing an assault to take out the small, fragmentary states there. The eastern states knew it was coming. And, having been devastated by years of civil war, they also knew they were ill-prepared for such a fight. Their elite warriors lay dead on their own battlefields. Their brilliant officers had taken poison or run themselves through swords. The nations needed skilled warriors, and fast. In this hour of desperate need, the newly appointed Strategos of the East called on all the leadership east of the Salt Range to a parliament. There, he tried to develop new strategies to train soldiers. However, over the three-day deadlock, no concrete strategy emerged on how to train so many troops in so little time. One halorin, however, flew in three days late. His name was Chril, and he was the priest-elect of Kali. At first, several people tried to stop him from entering the conference. Chril was known to be an avowed pacifist, and few expected him to give insight on the solution to the problem. However, Chril deserved a seat at this conference by rank alone, and after much grumbling was accepted into the conference.
I may be a pacifist, officers. But when invaded, there is only one option for our people. And that is defense.Chril presented his work simply. There was no better way to win the war than to leverage the populace of the regions. While the well-trained Swarms of the Kalian League would do well against small militias, it could not use its man-to-man strategy against an entire population. And the best way to leverage the manpower of the state was their greatest common factor: religion. And so the siege (or strength) meditation ritual was devised by the parliament: an exact copy of the training done by former militiamen. When Kalia invaded with the coming of summer, they took a devastating defeat. Ever since, the East Bay Alliance has stood against Kalian might, due to the one ritual done daily to stay physically strong, mentally agile, and emotionally flexible.
One hundred push-ups. One hundred sit-ups. One hundred squats. And run ten kilometers. Every day!!!While the ritual varies from person to person, due to their baseline strength, the general tradition has three components. One component is the initiation component. This is generally some strength exercises, followed up by a twenty-kilometer flight. The flight leads you to the city's central plaza, where there usually are more than a few awaiting the second stage of the meditation: to work out your mind. The game used for this meditation is a game of go, known as Surround & Siege by Halorin. It happens to be a relatively accurate simulation of war, and the boards are often structured so that nodes correspond to cities and lines roads.
The land below me unfolds like a map, a home the size of my thumb... the river a thin snake below me. I swoop down from my meditation, and I feel as if I have touched the face of my God.Finally, the third step of the meditation is the emotional stage. The meditation proper begins after the two opponents in S&S shake hands and end their game. They then proceed to a perch on a tall Turrim tree in the center of the plaza. By now, due to the intense nature of both the flight workout and the game of go, the halorin involved are almost certainly in an extreme state of concentration. Watching from their perch, usually over two hundred meters from the ground, invokes an immense sense of awe and inner peace. After the end of their meditation, the pair of birds divide, and each glides his or her way back to the home.
How do I play?
Surround and Siege is complex, to say the least. One must not get too tied-up in small tactical fights, but keep the overall picture in mind. It is excellent for training commanders, I must say.The first order of business of S&S is making a board. Generally, this means placing points for cities (objectives) and lines for routes getting from objective to objective. Often, the map is of a large gate or even an entire gate alliance, riddled with points and lines. However, one may also choose to skip this step, and use the general, 19x19 board. Next, players begin play, with one person (the offense) capturing one city to start. Next, the defender secures one of his own cities. Play continues in turns. If a piece or group of pieces is surrounded, it is "besieged", and can be captured next turn if the siege is maintained (i.e. none of the siege pieces become captured). During a battle, two adjoining pieces are put to a fight. An amount of adjacent pieces are chosen: some black, some white. A coin is flipped (or, in story mode, a twenty-sided die is rolled) by one player. If the result is positive, the enemy's pieces are reversed, and become some of the player's own pieces. Otherwise, the player's pieces are reversed, and become the enemy's. The game ends when either the players agree to "terms of surrender", which depend on how much territory the offense has captured, or one side is totally defeated, with all of the pieces captured through "battles" or "surround and siege".
What is Story Mode?Story mode is a more elaborate game than the normal meditative S&S. Instead of coins, a twenty-sided die is rolled for battles. Both sides have a persona: usually Kalia against the East Bay. Each battle and siege that occurs is recorded down, as well as the result of the die rolling. A story is developed around the happenings on the S&S board. Often, after a Story Mode S&S "campaign" (they don't call story mode "games"), the battles and sieges become a coherent tale told through the lens of someone fighting on both the winning and losing side, written by the winner and loser of the campaign. This type of story-writing is known as the "dichotomy", and is another exercise of the mind, most commonly practiced by the young.
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