Marco and the Saracen Storyteller sat over a board in a coffeehouse. The Tale-teller said,"This is the Game of Kings".
"Yes", replied Marco,"It is known in Venice".
"Tis so", replied the Tale-teller,"But do you know how it came to be?"
Then he continued:
Once, it is said(for Allah alone knows) there was a mighty Persian Shah. The Princes of the East sent him an Embassy with many gifts to offer as tribute. Then they said, "Such a mighty King as yourself must have many wise men serving him. If this is true solve this puzzle. If your servants can solve it then we will pay you greater tribute. But if not, our debt is clear and you will owe us."
The Shah was a sporting fellow, and not one to decline a wager. So he sent for his courtiers.
The puzzle was a square board of 8 by 8 squares. On it were various tiny images representing warriors about to do battle. But the rules of the game were not given, for it was up to the Shah's wise men to discern them.
But behold! Allah the merciful and compassionate, shone forth his generousity upon the faithful. For the Wise Men of the Shah discerned the rules of the game. And not merely that but they defeated the Indian Emisaries many times. And thus the Infidels were brought to ruin from their pride and gave double the tribute promised."
The Saracen ended: "And thus it was proved that the followers of the Prophet are wiser then any that walk the Earth".
"Indeed?" asked Marco. "Then why is it that Venice is wealthy and strong and free while the Sons of the Prophet are slaves to the horse-eating, barbarian Tartars?"
The Saracen smiled, "Because, O mighty Venetian, the horse-eating, barbarian Tartars care about little besides drink, and fighting, and hunting and need people to rule for them. And so it is that while Venice rules over a few half-forgotten islands...
"And a good part of Greece, and most of the Inner Sea", inturrupted Marco.
The Saracen said, "And a good part of Greece, and most of the Inner Sea" Then he continued,"While you rule over your empire-and an impressive one I will admit-the Sons of the Prophet rule over half the world, because the Sons of the Tartars know how to fight but not to rule. Thus it is that wisdom is greater then might."
"But what of those who posess both wisdom and might, even as Venice does.", asked Marco.
The Saracen replied,"Why then they are worthy rivals of the Sons of the Prophet even as Venice is. And they would be worthy to play the Game of Kings with us even as you are. But they have many an age to go yet. And you have many a year before you are fit to challenge me. Oh by the way, Check-mate: your King is dead."
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