Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Part the VIIth - To Search Anew

Excerpts from the Diary of Leviathan Cherrychoate:

September the 13th, A.D. 1683

Truly there is no rest for the wicked. I had found myself a fine clean and well-appointed tent wherein to rest from the great labours of the day of battle. I had just lain down upon the camp bed and was drifting pleasantly to sleep when I didst perceive the sound of a pistol lock being pulled back quite near my head. I attempted to spring up when, to my horror I found myself trust like a hog ready for the slaughter. My tent was filled with a half-dozen men in dark, long robes and shaved pates.

One of their numbers, a thin ascetic codpiece with a great nose hooked like unto ship's archor, did approach me and spake thus," What is Sandorius looking for?"

I noticed about his speech the accent of Iberia and quailed inside for there is nothing so humorless, cruel and spleeny as a Spanish prelate. When I prevaricated, he again asked me what Sandorius is about. I replied that I was but a humble servant and the great master did not take me into his confidence.

At which point, the evil bat-fouling bugbear call out to one of his companions, "Brother Hieronymous, bring forth the Rosary of Truth!"

At this, I liked nearly to die, coming close to loosing both my stomach and bowels in fear. For I was truly in the hands of Papist inquisitors of the Dago kind about to set me to the question and all about were the tumults of looted camps such that my screams would bring me no succor.

The Rosary of Truth twas a most fiendishly simple device, a simple cord with two great knots in it. These were placed o'er mine eyes and, at the back of my head, the slack in the cord was wrapped about a small wooded rod. I perceived that this was to be turned to tighten the cord, squeezing out mine eyes and, eventually, mine brains should I fail to answer the queries of these idolatrous apple-johns.

Now in my time have I been with many woman who didst find pleasure in a variety of wondrous strange methods, whether involving lovemaking with the feet or immersion in macassar oils, and I am not generally averse to attempting new enjoyments. I have e'en been known to enjoy the occasional friendly bethumping of the backside with hairbrush, which, if done in moderation and good will, can add piquancy to a sporting evening. However, I have never been of the sort that enjoyth the giving or getting of pain as a means of venereal satisfaction.

Therefore, the subsequent torture I endured at the hands of these conspiratorial Dagos was a great trial to me. When they placed the knotted cord about mine eyes and first began to twist, a great cry escaped from mine lips and I pleaded that I knew not of Sandorius' plans. Which truly I did not, for Sandorius was a most circumspect master. As the cords tightened, my mind raced to find any means of alleviating my pains. I suddenly spoke out, "Why not ask what De Dulier was about?"

As a sudden, the pressure on mine eyes stopped and their was much muted discussion amongst the venomed shard-snouts. I know not Spanish but with my knowledge of Latin could discern some of their words. "De Dulier" figured prominently as well as the word "betrayer" and I think also "sodomite" for it seemed they knew of the fool-born wagtail's predilections. Belikes twas these that attracted the Switzer to these spur-galled miscreants in the first place.

There was some sound outside the tent and the leader of these shaved-pated hugger-muggers called out, "This fool knows nothing. Brother Hieronymous, kill me."

Truly I died e'er the shot flew but despite my quailing belly and melting spine, I hurled myself gainst the nearest of them.

"Twas there I heard the throaty sound like unto a snorting horse together with the sound of a hard blow being struck at the instant the pistol shot rang forth. I hastily struck at the assailant behind me and pulled free from his grasp, ripping the Rosary of Truth from mine eyes.

There in all her equine glory was the incomparable Countesses Georgina standing o'er the prostrate body of Brother Hieronymous. With her was the bloodthirsty Polack lady Anusia, oft called by the incongruous name of Sherootka or Little Orphan; incongruous since she is the most bloodthirsty of the Prince's entourage. Apparently Georgina and Little Orphan Annie were hardby, the latter no doubt playing ninepins with Turk's heads, when they heard my travail.

At the same moment, a great ripping and tearing came forth from one wall of mine tent and Colonel van der Kamp and two of his Walloons thrust threw with Knives de Bayonne atop their musketoons. Then didst come with a great halloballoo that most noble molthead prince Radivue and his charger. He still bore upon his steed the impertinent but beauteous flax-wench Penruddick. With a great halloo the prince, his charger, Pendruddick and all burst through the wall of mine tent, shredding it to bits. The prince himself didst wave a great saber about, more like to do harm to himself and, more importantly, myself, than the two Dago priest who were now prostrate pon the floor of the tent.

In a great flurry the two parboiled prelates were subdued and trussed. Only two were taken as the rest including their scythe-nosed leader had fled afore my rescue was achieved. And had I been allowed my will, these two reeky mottle-minds wouldst have been treated as capons. As twas, I did manage to land several good boot-falls twixt their legs ere I was restrained.

At this I noticed that van der Klatch's Walloons had been somewhat backwards in the fight. 'Twas to be expected I suppose since they were fully occupied by the plundering of the remains of mine tent and my newly won treasures. One of their number, in their bustle to loot me of mine property, did drop a fine Persian tea set that I had been much gladdened by. Barely had the soft tinkle of broken porcelain sounded when a great roar commenced from without the tent. Suddenly, the last remaining wall of the tent was torn asunder by the vast, tide-influencing bulk of gor-bellied Ziglova. Apparently, the yeasty hedge-pig was greatly enamored of all things Eastern and he did remonstrate 'pon the two Walloons, Jules and Jacques Fufroque or some such, quite vociferously for their carelessness.

As the cool wind of the autumn night swept through my now-open pavilion, I said with much disgust, "Thus is the Company of the Turk's Head formed again and with the same jollity as I recall."

To which the statuesque Georgina didst laugh and I wouldst go to her but for the Prince Radivue standing betwixt us. With him was Penruddick who clung upon him like a limpet upon galleon's hull, all the while gloating at me for the pains I had suffered. I could perceive that the Prince favored her much since he stood blubbering and drooling the words, "Bumpies" whilst indicating Penruddick's delectable if cold-hearted bosom. I was much astounded by the Prince for truly he hath grown more stupid since last I had seen him, but three months past.

Ziglova, who had been examining the two prisoners, spake thus, "Dominican Order by their habits. Inquisitors no doubt. I had not expected that."

The irrelevance of his statement irritated me greatly and I returned, "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition. That's their main weapon, the foul Papist idolators!" Then I bethought that all of my rescuers were themselves foul Papist idolators and much more heavily armed than my poor Protestant soul. "No offense intended to present company," I mumbled.

"None taken," returned the planet-sized Polack Ziglova. "After all, you are the one going to hell, not us."

After much expert persuading by the Walloons, who were no doubt practiced brigands by the way they continued to pocket my goods whilst torturing the priests, the two hard-headed Dagos could not be got to speak. Betimes, van der Snike did relinquish them unto his troopers who wouldst continue their entertainment within their own lines.

The Colonel was gracious enough to ask his men to return to me some of my goods. Much wearied by my brief enrichment, I took up the armor, a fine rapier and the noble befeathered hat and said to all that they might keep whatever pleased them in the tent.

At this Ziglova asked whether I truly meant anything in the tent, to which I concurred. "Good! I choose you. Welcome to the entourage Cherrycoate."

The meaning of his words took some time to perceive. I realized that he truly meant to dragoon me into the service of the slack-brained Prince who, even as we spoke, was drawing repeatedly with a bit of coloured wax the imbecilic image of a smiling man upon a large piece of folded paper. To which Penruddick did most sickeningly acclaim them the prettiest work she had e'er seen.

Before I could protest, Ziglova ordered, whilst the Prince continued to beslobber Penruddick with his attentions, that we search out Sandorius who might know why I had suffered this misadventure.

Afore this could transpire, a messenger came for Ziglova that the King sought him. How any could misplace such an enormous object as Ziglova, I know not, but twas a very large camp. I must needs accompany them and so was dragged to see King John who was celebrating the victory in the tent of the Grand Vizier. We all marched to that place where, to my pleasure, I was able to procure several excellent glasses of French vin, the King being reknown for the table he keeps, hence his likeness unto an Artic walrus of great size.

All the great men of the Polack army were there. Yablonski the Great Marshal, Lubomirski and Senyavski the Field Marshals, Something-ski the Standardbearer, Another-ski the Cupcleaner, Yet-another-ski the Ass-wiper and so on. Each one seemed to be inclined to dispute the King for the title of fattest man in the realm. I had heard the Polacks elect their kings but truly it must be that the stature of a candidate is measured upon the extent of acreage his shadow doth cover. For Ziglova is hardly an oddity mongst them. There were exceptions to this rule. The king's eldest son, James, is still quite thin, but it seems that he must be running up for the candidacy upon his father's death since he was barely to be seen without mug or plate the whole night.

The King was in a great good humor and was most gracious to us, acknowledging the mewling Prince. I noted that the King's observant eye didst wander o'er the shapely form of Penruddick who was still dressed, or rather undressed, in the grab of harem strumpet. She blushed most prettily at this and asked if any more modest clothing could be obtained for her. The Polack officers, a more drunken and randified group of coxcombs I have yet to lay mine eyes upon, did all dissemble and say, "No, no, no women's clothes here. You'll just have to stay like that," and words to that effect. The King, taking pity upon her, didst give her his own cloak, a great rich thing of the finest sable fur worth more than half the counties in Wales together. Not that you would find much of a market for Wales even with Ireland and Scotland thrown in - but twas a rich cloak.

Finally, the King did turn to Ziglova and presented him with a manuscript that he said his men had found abandoned 'pon the field. He asked if Ziglova knew its origin and content. With great shock, I recognized the handwriting of the work as the mincing, tickle-brained scrawl of the spongy Switzer De Dulier. The work, made clandestine like mine, was a copy of Newton's great Principia Decania. Master Newton shall take the cane to thee more truly, De Dulier, when I tell him of your betrayal, thinks I.

Finally, the King spake, "A most interesting work, I shall study it ere I retire this night. But I would discourse with the famous Doctor Sandorius over this work and other matters. Ziglova, seek him out and ask him to attend me on the morrow. I shall make my entry into the city tomorrow afore noon and the Archbishop shall host for us a fine feast in his palace. Ask him to attend me there.

So we, the jolly Company of the Dead Turk, must all go in search of Sandorius. Although much fatigued, I went as well since Ziglova had placed the boy Eduard as guard upon my attendance. The young lad bore the Prince's great two-handed sword, all bloodied from the day's work, in his small hands. Thinking upon the lad and Little Orphan Annie, I remarked that the Commonwealth seemed to produce a most impressive number of murderers and cutthroats. To which statement, young Eduard expressed his great thanks for the compliment.

Betimes we entered the city, though twas nigh onto daybreak and me having no sleep yet. We found Sandorius soundly asleep in a chamber in the rectory of the Church of Saint John. He had prepared the floor with a tincture of nightingale which normally sparks and crackles when stepped upon. But twas Ziglova who tread upon it now and with a great explosion, the tincture entire ignited with a flash and a bang.

Sandorius sprang up with saber in his hands and evil look in his eye. This did not improve when Ziglova told him of the King's invitation. Sandorius was much offended by being awaken for what he considered such a trifling message.

His mood was much worsened when the Archbishop, all full of fornications and copulations, did join us. Sandorius soon calmed and asked if the Archbishop, Staremburg wouldst join him upon the battlements of the Little Gonzaga on morrow evening.

Twas at this point that further discourse was interrupted by the Prince, who belikes was possessed by some demon. For, after having drooled monosyllabically all night, suddenly spake with what for him passed as eloquence, "Pway for this young man, Awchbishop," indicating me. "For Chewwycoate hath got the Pox!"

Now I am remarkably healthy of constitution, neither cold, quinsy nor ague hath ever afflicted me. This is especially the case involving the various mal de Venus which I hath never got despite my passionate and wandering nature. I believe I hath gained the eternal favour of the Lady of Cyprus, no doubt since I have worshipped oft enough at her temple these many years and do preach her message of love with little discrimination as oft I can.

So it twas that I protested hotly that was quite impossible that I hath got the pox. To which the Walloons, Jules and Jacques, did note that any man who protest o'er much as I surely was bepoxed grandly. Now had these words been spoken anywhere else save the palace of the Church of St. John, little note would have been made. But a house of priests is as vile a nest of gossips as ere can be found; within the hour, all Vienna had come to fear a catching of the Cherrycoates. Whatever malign spirit suddenly gave such a thought to the dim-witted princely toad-spot I shall ne'er know. But this he did for spite of me and to gain favor with Penruddick who was most amused at my plight.

At the time I was too wearied to care overmuch and when Sandorius dismissed the rest of the company, I did find a warm, piss-free corner to snatch a few hours of blessed sleep. Nearby was still the boy Eduard, busy sharpened the great sword and regaling me with how far this or that Turk's bodily parts flew after he struck them. And so to bed.

September the 14th, A.D. 1683

Up betimes with Sandorius shouting for me and the boy Eduard still at my heels and still reciting his list of killed Turks. After a hasty breaking of fast, just some bread and beer, we were away to see King John's entry unto the city. As we proceeded to the walls, I did note that most of those who but yesterday clung to me for gratitude at my role in saving the city now distanced themselves when ere I drew near.

But we were soon upon the works and here comes King John and his generals entering in great fashion and to great acclaim by the folks of Vienna. This first host was most like unto a dozen of great unwholesome eggs wrapped in silver foil rather than the armored leadership of a martial people. But still twas a brave and stirring sight till I perceived Penruddick riding by upon the back of a white she-camel and bedecked still in her Islamite vixen garb and sable cloak. She spied me and did indicate one of the many ware-hawkers who catered to the festive crowd. Much to my vexation, twas an apothecary's boy selling charms and cures 'gainst the Cherrycoate! Oh shall the Prince have much to answer for!

Betimes the great pageant endth near sundown and Sandorius and I are away to our appointment. The archbishop was there as well as the old mumble-news Staremburg. When I asked him if he had begun collecting my countesses, he was much distressed and did stammer o'er much.

The archbishop said that the King was indisposed but that they would grant whatever Sandorius requested. At this Sandorius launched into a brave speech about the Tower of Babel and that belikes could we but return to such a brotherhood as existed before it, 'twould be truly then all speak the language of the Angels.

To which the Archbishop replied that Sandorius was working his tongue harder than a twenty ducat whore and what was his purpose in such a speech. To which Sandorius requested that the dead upon the field be buried therein with little ceremony. To which the Archbishop and the General assented, much surprised that the man who had done so much for the city had such a simple request.

Now I had suspected that Sandorius was about filling his promise to the Elemental Earth that, in return for service in the battle, all the dead would given as sacrifice to the dirtful demon. But as I thought upon the great eloquence and passion that my Master brought to his arguments, I perceived that perhaps this truly was Sandorius' goal. To return mankind to a state of grace and brotherhood. Save me, thinks I, I have fallen in amongst that worst of dangers, an idealist with power. Having study a bit of history, I do well know that the greatest crimes are those begot by the noblest of dreamers.

At this point, Sandorius mentioned that he would see the library of Dee. To which the gudgeony Archbishop prevaricated greatly. Finally, he said that the library had not been in Vienna this whole time but had been sent away into a secret location. I did perceive that Sandorius was much vexed by this but maintained a calm face. The archbishop continued that he would give to Sandorius a letter to one Father Sergius who hath taken three great crates of books out of the city afore we had arrived. With much strain in his voice, Sandorius inquired whither this priest might be found.

To which the archbishop replied, " The last place the copulatingTurks would ever look. The town of Streltsova, due south, some three hundred miles within the borders of the Sultan's domain." I asked why he was so confident that the Turks would not expect it to be hid there. He replied, " Why they have a great cannon and powder works there, well guarded by a regiment of Janissaries. Only the greatest of fools or madmen would venture their power in such a place."

So I then left them to their discourses and went unto my favorite of bawdy houses for I knew we would soon be away from the city and most likely even closer to death. But I was turned away, much vexed and so to another where the same fate awaited me. After much trial and journey through the town, even to using masques and costumes, I could find no bawdy house, no courtesan, no night-flit, no alley-strumpet, no common lewdstress who wouldst grant me favor. I found that even Maria, the Hungarian girl with whom I sported through the siege, hath run off to join a convent in gratitude of being spared the Cherrycoate. So I return, most extremely vexed to my room at the Archbishops palace, which I find, much to my disgust, I must share with the window-shatteringly snoring, flatulence-spewing, room-filling form of Ziglova. Thus do I now sit contemplating my vengeance upon the most noble Prince and his fair companion.

Two can play at slander. I shall write a most porneographic poem upon the theme of Queen Artimesia and the Emperor Xerxes. For Artemesia read Penruddick and for the Emperor read the Vizier. Shall she endeavor to undertake the whole of the Ten Thousand Immortals? Aye and all the donkeys and horses in the camp as well.

Slander is all well and good but how so subtle a work as I describe is well beyond the ken of the beef-witted Prince. Nay I must strike at him through his pride.

Aye, what if I venture upon the virtue of the fair Penruddick. Twould hurt the Prince for he would lose his fair plunder. Twould hurt Penruddick for she would be besoiled by the Cherrycoate. And finally, twould please me mightily since she is surpassingly fair.

And so, much less vexed, to bed.

Excerpts from The Memoirs of Oktawjan Zagloba:

Chapter XXXVII
How I Revolutionized Western Civilization

…I then went among the wreckage of the Turkish camp, wreckage that I myself had wrought. I found a most wondrous carpet of the elevating kind as well as several fine clockwork devices that must have been for the amusement of the Vizier for they counterfeited the Vizier, with a greatly exaggerated genitalia, having his way with a shapely red-headed houri. I also had much time to consider the problems which had best the army in the campaign. Although I was satisfied that the Musketoons Containing a Fire-lock Mechanism Using the Percussive Qualities of Fulminate of Mercury were a success as well as the New Lightly-Wrought Field Mortar Based Upon an Easily Drawn Carriage For Rapid Movement Upon the Field of Battle, I was troubled that I had not solved the problem of moving infantry at speeds equal to that of the cavalry.
I had struck upon an idea then to examine the works of Hiero of Alexandria wherein I found the most brilliant solution. He had a toy utilizing the motive effects when entrapped steam is slowly released. He had also provided much information upon the use of pistons for creation of wondrous, moving automata. I then hit upon the brilliant idea of combining the two ideas as the motive force for an infantry bearing chariot. Perhaps such a chariot could even bear guns more quickly over the field of battle. Sometimes even I was impressed by my ideas.
I was thus engrossed when I heard the horrifying shatter of porcelain which I perceived was from a fine set of coffee china, Persian, probably from the shop Karim Alibeg in Isfahan, circa 1604. I rushed to stop this travesty….

… After such a disturbed night, I returned to camp to prepare for our entry into the city.
The King held his triumphal entry into Vienna upon the 13th of September, 1683. And what a welcome he had for all the people of Vienna turned out with great joy to welcome him. Had he assayed to become Emperor at that moment, I think none would have gainsaid him the right.
Now I did not begrudge him this small honor, even though the victory was more fairly credited to me. But he was a decent king, not at all the tyrant like King Louis of France nor the autocrat like Tsarina Sofia of Muscovy, about both who I will have more to say anon. Also I had known many such triumphs in my day already and am of a humble and retiring manner. So I did not protest that I was placed in the fifth line and, even, two away from the far right in the procession.
More troubling was the melancholy look which the King bore upon his face on such a triumphal occasion.
The Archbishop of Vienna then held a great banquet of honor in his palace to which the King and all of us, his most trusted officers were invited. Here too the King was most distressed, barely touching the great goblets of wine, beer, mead and vodka not to mention the fine meats, pastries and other repasts set before us. The King, in fact, soon excused himself from the affair, saying he was still weary from the exertions of the campaign.
I hastened after him, taking only a moment to snatch a hasty bite to eat ere I left. After thus having only a small bottle of a fine German white wine, a small capon, two bowls of soups, some hard and soft cheeses, but a few joints of mutton as well as the merest part of a hind-quarter of beef, together with nine hasty drafts of Bohemian beer and only 26 pastries, not counting marzipan, I rushed to the King's chambers.
I was of course admitted immediately where I found the King sitting upon a balcony quite despondent. The room held a great telescope and desk cluttered with papers and calculating measures. Atop all this was the manuscript containing Newton's work.
Without looking at me, the King began to speak to me, chilling me to my soul. Since his words would have such a dramatic effect upon my life, not to mention the course of history I set them down verbatim.

Ah Zagloba, you are a learned man. How is that you can have such knowledge and still be happy? No, do not speak, I did not expect an answer.
I have studied Master Newton's work. Quite brilliant. With it, I have been able to cast my fortune in a manner far clearer than I have ever done before. And it has not pleased me.
You see, Vienna shall be my last victory save one. Though I live for another decade and more, I shall never again know triumph. I shall die, sick unto my heart and my sons, none of them shall succeed me. The Commonwealth shall slide evermore into anarchy and humiliation and weakness until she is, like a sick dog, strangled in her sleep.
All that we love about her, freedom, tolerance, the belief that all are created equal, that not even the king is above the law, all shall fall away with her.
What shall be left? Oh there shall be great nations, great powers. But they shall all be modeled upon Louis' France, with all groveling about a gilded throne and one man's fancy controlling the fate of millions. But other nations shall learn. Spain has already succumbed to the lure of the absolutist. Austria shall be next. Even England, when King Charles dies, shall be tied more and more tightly by his brother James into the mold cast by Louis. Even in their colonies across the sea, the hangman and stake shall rule.
And in time, Muscovy shall be worst of all. Under a giant who shall rule from a new capital built of human bones, their armies shall sweep through Europe. Finally, France and Muscovy shall clash in a great war, one without pity, without limit until all is consumed in this new Hundred Years' War.
The Church shall survive but it shall have fallen to those, like the Jansenist and Dominican Inquisitors, who believe only in ignorance and control. Those who believe that knowledge is grace, those who preserved knowledge through the long Dark Times and who oversaw the rebirth of the Renaissance, those like the Jesuits and the Brothers of the Star shall be suppressed and destroyed.
And ignorance and fear and death shall be the legacy left to our children. And that, my friend, is the future I saw in store for us….

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