the bond between a bishop and his chorbishop
is a sacred one, of the utmost trust for, as chorbishop Veltinari famously observed, how else would the business of the church ever get done? Since it falls to the chorbishop to do all the lower church tasks of the bishopric – actually dealing with petitioners, keeping lead on the roofs and gold in the pockets and so on such that the bishop can be free to deal with his fellow bishops (generally by poison), the chorbishop is indispensible to his bishop and, although custom may demand that the bishop humiliate his second in command in public, he tends to be very well rewarded in private. It is for this reason, and not the scurrilous one so often bruited about by the laity, that the chess piece depicts the bishop and his undermiter back to back, a solid unit against the treacherous world.
This does not mean, of course, that the chorbishop refrains from his own politicking – far from it. Indeed, he tends to be if anything even more cutthroat and ruthless against his fellow chorbishops than his superior in the Electoral Palace, and is frequently too taken up with such diversions to launch a joint attack with his master against another see. How else, mused Veltinari, would chorbishops ever be prepared for a full bishopric? But the machinations of chorbishops and bishops rarely move in the same constellations for, no matter how intricately laid the calumny or ingenious the trap, no bishop could ever fall to a chorbishop’s hand. Neither would a bishop dirty his hands with a chorbishop’s undoing. By an ancient accord understood intimately in the gutter press, blows fit to unseat men of such power could only come from their peers. And so the chorbishop’s place in the important Business of the Realm was canonically restricted, as it was in his official duties, to stage-managing the bishop’s coups, supporting his train, and ensuring that the pratfalls and spike pits came always to rest just under those places where the enemy would deign to slip.