Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Part the Vth - Fortresses Beleaguered

Excerpts from the Diary of Leviathan Cherrychoate:

July the 18th, A.D. 1683

Up betimes to sit in council of war all morning, General von Staremberg presiding. The general is a bitter old murderer, kindred spirit to our bloody-minded former pirate of an Archbishop. Betwixt the two of them, I suspect they have whole legions of dead men's souls on their accounts. The Archbishop was there as well cursing the Turk for being mother-fornicating catamites (the physicks of which I am not entirely sure) and calling upon all in Vienna to make a good fornicating show of it. The dismal-dreaming General did comment upon our situation viz the siege with all that enthusiastic grimness which seems to mark the Teutonic race.

It seems that the Turk was all about us with o'er three hundred thousand, two third of which were troops of the line or sappers whose only intent was our destruction. We of the garrison lacked but a few of twelve thousand regulars together with a small force of rabble militia made up of beggars and priests. Joltheaded Staremberg estimated that the Turk needed but twelve weeks to dig his great saps and parallels close enough to batter down the walls and send his endless columns into the city, no doubt to sack and plunder in a copulating-catamite manner of way. But this was not the best tidings, for the city had not expected such a rapid advance and was ill-prepared for the siege. But seven weeks of powder, shot, etc were present in the town and but six weeks of victuals.

Our only hope was that a relieving army should come to our aid. However, best thought was that the Austrian lands could scarce muster thirty thousands while the Empire could provide but twenty thousands. E'en King John of Poland, should he come, could not bring o'er twenty-five thousands with him. And moldwarped Staremberg states that e'en these paltry forces could not be ready to march afore the coming of fall, some eight weeks away and have far to march, and could not be expected to arrive here before the Turk's trenches have doomed us and this well after our victuals and powder hath been exhausted.

To which the unmuzzled Archbishop replied that no copulating catamite of a Turk had beat him yet and no camel-fornicating Mohammedean was likely to now. At worst, says the old puttock, we shall all go gloriously into that fornicating outer darkness for which heaven shall be our fornicating reward. To which the clapper-clawed butcher Staremberg complimented the Archbishop with what a fine gallant speech it twas. Of course, what care these old dodderers who have a hundred and a half years betwixt them and for whom the only disadvantage of death would be the lack of more victims for their pathology.

Upon this, I retired from the council wherein all the officers, including Sandorius plotted ways to bring death to our enemies and great bloody entertainments for all. I then got myself to the house of Herr Baedecker the Pimp, but could not be relieved of my sour mood, despite sporting with three of his finest girls.

Jul the 30th, A.D. 1683
From the Camp of the Army of the Sublime Porte
Before Vienna
In the Realm of the Emperor Leopold

To Madame Nelle Lyzzard-Penruddick
Marshalsee Debtor's Goal

Dearest Mother,

I am well as well as can be expected, being still held amongst the volatile Turks and their murderous vassals. I do hope Aunt Hecuba's quinsy is improved.

I did arrive at the great camp at Belgrade on June the 15th. It was remarkable for both its size and stench, there being over three hundred thousand souls present with twice or more that number of beasts, horse, oxen, mules and camel all told.

Upon arrival, my Gypsy captors escorted me through a bewildering maze of tents, each becoming larger and more ornate as we progressed. The sinful luxuriousness of the officers of this army is astounding, with their pavilions resembling palaces rather than traveling tents. I was able to estimate our proximity to the Grand Vizier by the ever-increasing circumferences of the turbans of these officers.

Betimes we arrived at a courtyard containing a flock of peacocks and other animals. In the midst was a great covered space under which the Grand Vizier held court. The Vizier, Kara Mustafa Pasha, is a man of middle years, somewhat less than average in height and quite porcine in appearance. His eyes however show that ruthlessness and cruelty that mark him more as the fiercest of boars rather the most indolent of sows. There is a great household about him where'er he travels and all the soldiers, including the fierce Khan of the Krim Tartars, fear him without moderation.

I was ordered to present to him the Sultan's firman, or absolute order in the form of the green silk bowstring. This was tied upon the Vizier's neck and he was obligated daily to untie one of the ninety knots until Vienna fell. Failure of the siege within the allotted time would mean that the string would be used as a garrote on that most illustrious neck. Despite this grim missive, Kara Mustafa seemed quite pleased with my presence. It seems that red-hair is viewed as exotic amongst these dark peoples for e'en though the camp is full of Slavic slaves with fair skin and blonde hair, red is colouring not often seen.

I knew immediately that Kara Mustafa had conceived for me a most violent lust and only the Sultan's orders and Sufi's threatening posture saved me from being ravished upon our first interview.

Although I am disinclined to a flirtatious nature, I remember, Dearest Mother, what you had always told me, "The way to a man's heart is through his trousers but mind not to give in too easily for a man's intellect decreases in proportion to the increase of his lust." Thus I remember the manner, after Father's death, in which you had carried on with Lord Castlemain, Lord Hastings, Lord Ponsonby, Sir Henry Chartwell, Sir Roland Higgenbottom, Sir Thomas Culpepper, the Earl of Argyll, and so forth, bending them to your will with the merest suggestion of strumpetry. At the time I was much annoyed by your behavior, believing it a dishonour to Father's memory. Now, however, I have applied these lessons for the benefit of Christendom.

Kara Mustafa did prove most amenable to my coquetry. Since our first meeting, I have distracted him from his most pressing duties, often only by laying the merest touch upon his cheek. His is also quite taken with the game of chess and I also distract him much by the playing of the game. Being a man, he is quite aggressive but unsubtle in his attacks and I have beat him well and truly nine out every ten games which we have played. Because of his being smitten with me, I am allowed where no woman and few men are allowed to go. However, the cost I must pay to my dignity for this liberty is quite onerous. Per examplum, once I followed him into his counsel of war. When he noticed I followed, he commented on how much I must favor him and did waggle his buttocks most lasciviously, dropping some small item so that I might have the better view of his great vizieral posterior.

And thus his generals are much vexed by his indifference to the war but feared too much to protest. However, Kara Mustafa is quite the cunning man and even in repose is capable of clear thinking when needed. Per examplum, at the outset of the campaign at the start of July, his generals were much taken up with the matter of Gyor, an Austrian border fortress of some strength. Many called for the place to be taken, while others called for it to be bypassed. Half-thinkingly, Kara Mustafa ordered his armies to be moving "forward, always forward." Thus the fortress was masked by a small force and the grand army advanced quickly gainst the unprepared Austrians who fled in panic.

We arrived at Vienna on July the eighteenth, the van of the army having preceded us there by three days. Thus the great siege is begun but progresses with little direction from Kara Mustafa whom I have quite under my thumb.

Write to me soon, Dearest Mother, and tell me if my brother Rodry has sent word from the Indies yet and how fairs our dear Honoria who is, by my calculation six months unto her pregnancy.

Your Loving Daughter

30th July 1683
To His Excellency Furst Waldeck, KapitanGeneral der Reichsarmee
From Georgina, Grafein von Schnitterboch-Falkenburg, Fahnricka der Reichsarmee

I have the honor of reporting that I have arrived this day in Regensburg together with my Curassiers and the Walloon battalions. Since putting the Walloons under escort, they have been most correct in their behavior. I have even allowed their recruiting sergeant to proceed us upon our line of march. Thus the battalions are at their full promised strength, although some of the recruits do appear to have been slightly bruised in the process of recruitment.

Colonel van der Snaecht had been most reticent in the march and was always the last man turned out. That is until roused from his bed one morning when his tent caught on fire, most mysteriously. Since that time, the Colonel has billeted with Colonel von Heberdorf of the Curassiers, a man most punctilious when it comes to military duties.

These Walloons, once faced with no other choice, do know their business quite well and should acquit themselves well in the coming campaign. I make so bold as to suggest that they lead the van in the attempted relief, both on account of their apparent skill and of the fact that the Emperor shall not need to pay any that fall in the battle. One can only hope that the good Colonel shall be as forward as his men.

Excerpts from the Diary of Leviathan Cherrychoate:

July the 31st, A.D. 1683

So has endth the second week of our siege and a most disagreeable business this war. Sandorius requires my assisting him night and day leaving with rarely time or vigor for e'en a hasty rattle with Maria. The town is quite surrounded and little above the rats canst leave or enter. The Turks do progress well in their works which crawl towards us like some malevolent caterpillar. 'Twas also found that much of the stuffs in the town granaries were moldy and foul and thus we have but five weeks victuals for the garrison and this on short ration.

I have remained safe and whole these two weeks, despite the best efforts of Turk, Austrian and Sandorius to see it otherwise. Except, that is, for a misadventure I suffered this Tuesday last. Whilst working near the forward outer works, I did chance to take my relief in the privy hardby. (Only a German would think there need to place a privy next to a great ditch of course.) Whilst I sat upon the seat of ease, I didst hear a great thumping. At first I bethought it originating from myself on the cause of too much cabbage soup and the lacking of venereal release to have constricted o'er much my bodily humours. But I did suddenly realize that the sound was of digging and the Turks were as like as not to open their mine immediately below mine ass. In quite a panic I hastily gathered up my britches and fled the privy, the imagery of pick-axe-wielding, copulating Turkish catamites foremost in my mind. I soon found Sandorius who was in deep conversation with General von Staremberg. In much dither, I was able to get out my story of the shit-house-encroaching Turks. To which, the good General, venomed spur-galled coxcomb that he is, did take me to his grenadiers and took up one of their larger grenadoes. He then escorted me back to the privy wherein the sound of digging had become quite pronounced. He then bade me light the fuse to the granadoe and drop it into the hole. At which point, the loggerheaded old canker-blossom calmly left and proceeded leisurely down the bomb-wracked street. I stood for a moment undecided upon my course of action, when I realized that a great grenadoe was about to explode below my feet. I rushed from the privy just an instant before a great roar went up and a rain of dung and dead Turks came down. For it seemed that the privy and the Turk's mine entire had gone up in a great conflagration.

I asked the old flap-dragon what had befallen. He was most glad of the question for truly the German is the most pedantic of races. He informed me with great seriousness and dignity, that he made quite a study of privies and fart gas and had found that all farts do contain a high quantity of flammable gases and that these gases do gather inside privies. Being ignited, they could produce a quite prodigious explosion. How he discovered this fact I do not know and would have paid any amount to have seen the lumpish clay-brained pumpion foist upon his own flatulent petard in the experimentation. He said he often theoried that if enou human gas could be gathered in one place, the whole of the Turkish works could be brought down. And thou could produce the whole amount thyself, thinks I but says nothing for the old skainsmate would have surely have run me through for a farthing.

That night I did not sell the beer ration which I rendered but drank it all myself but was only slightly merry, barely enough to give Maria a decent thumping, more out of gratitude of being alive than for lust. And so to bed.

August the 8th, A.D. 1683

We are now unto the fourth week of our besiegement and the third proved to be not an unpleasant one. The Turks did launch a great assault upon the walls which was put down with much effusion of blood, thanks largely to the magics of Doctor Sandorius. Fortunately, I took no part in these heroics since I had been hit on the head by a chamber pot at Herr Baedecker's the night before when one of his girls disputed with a customer over the reckoning and much crockery was flung about. However, I did claim the injury was from a Turkish missile and so have received much sympathy. The very fine Countess von S. did nurse me most prettily this week, hovering low o'er me with her fine buxomness and embracing me quite closely to her when I feigned a touch of the fever. But a little more work and I shall tumble her well and truly. Also twas found that most of the provender for the horse regiment has spoilt so at least there has been horse soup to eat instead of ever horrid cabbage.

August the 22nd, A.D. 1683

The sixth week of our siege hath begun and what poor excuse for victuals as remains shall be gone by the end of the week. The Turks batter away at our walls whilst ours remain silent for lack of powder. In my idleness, I have counted the Turkish guns which do reckon well over one hundred and forty. A messenger from the Duke of Lorraine hath come in this Friday last but with ill tidings. Although an army of relief is formed, it shall be another month till it is fully gathered and marched to us.

Sandorius was most grievously wounded in a sortie gainst the Turkish lines, lead by the Archbishop himself. They failed at the first outpost and a great body of Janissaries came gainst them so that of the two hundred men who went out scarce sixty returned and most of those shot up well and truly. The profane, gorbellied scut of an Archbishop of course was unscathed. As today is the Lord's Day, the Turks honored it by having their Gypsies impale thirty or so prisoners taken in the sortie. Their crosses are set up all along the lines and there is much despair in our lines for the fellow were still alive at the end of the day.

The only joy I had this week was to allow the court physician, one Doctor Pfalzschwanz or some such, to attend upon Sandorius. I let him bleed the Master a bit and cup him in the most embarrassing of places but soon threw the croaker out for the fen-sucked measle he is. Before he went, I did bribe him with some spirits that when next he instructed the Countess von S., who is a great student of nursing, that a proper nursely relief for fever was to place one's naked body upon that of the sufferer. The Lord grant me a chill day soon.

Excerpts from The Memoirs of Oktawjan Zagloba:

Chapter XXXVI
The First Occasion Where I Saved All Europe and Christendom Herself

…Thus it was that good King John proved to be a great assistant to my plans that summer. The percussive musketoons were soon readied in significant number. I directed the first thousand were to be given to Lubomirski's cavalry which was being sent immediately to the aid of the Austrians. The remainder I reserved for the infantry regiments of Chelmski and Buttler. I ensured that the horse artillery and light mortar batteries were all placed in readiness and begun to train under my ever watchful and skilled eye. Although I found them wanting for my high standards, they were doubtless the finest artillery in Europe by the end of the first week in which I worked with them. However, the special apiarian shot proved most pernicious to maintain at best but three great shot had been prepared. Finally, with the assistance of the learned Rabbi Loew I soon fashioned several golemi in the form of pigeons to act as scout and messenger for the beleaguered city.

Even Prince Radziwill showed some gratitude for once and left me in peace. I had asked the Prince to work upon the horse trappings for his hussars, knowing that he is easily distracted by bright colors and loud noises. Thus I was left to devote my considerable intellect to the problem of the Turk.

By the end of the summer all had been done according to my plan and I advised the King to fly to the aid of Vienna.

On the night before we departed Warsaw, I was summoned to His Majesty's Presence where he confided in me the doubts he had for the coming campaign. He was most concerned about Prince Sapieha, who commanded the ten thousand troops from Lithuania who would march into Hungary as a diversion. He did not trust the Prince but had not the power to relieve him from this hereditary command. Also, he knew that the Emperor was a small and venial man who was already shamed to the world by the precipitous flight he made from his capital which stood now so stoutly without him. Surely, if victory was achieved, the Emperor would do all in his power to belittle any good accomplished by the King.

Throughout the interview, of course, Prince Radziwill continued to miscount on his fingers and pick his nose.

Now the King was no coward and was always full of confidence but even Our Lord suffered moments of doubt. This I told him and I assured him that he was a fine king and would do well since I would be at hand to advise him. The King was much relieved and the next morn was in a fine fettle when he ordered the army to proceed.

The only trouble on this portion of the march occurred in Krakow where our good King was reunited with Her Majesty, Queen Marie Casimire, a Frenchwoman by birth, noted for her beauty and grace. Now I surmised immediately that the Queen had conceived a great and passionate love for me. I could tell thus by the studious manner in which she pretended to ignore me. But she and I knew our duties and the impossibility such a liaison would present to our country at such a critical time. Of course neither she not I ever spoke of it, for we both were full of loyalty to His Majesty. However, I think that His Majesty sensed his queen's attraction for me and endeavored to hurry us on the road to Vienna. Thus, even my mere presence gave impetus to the most noble endeavor.

We halted at the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa where the army received the blessings of that shrine. Although not a particularly religious man, I do hold enough faith that demonstrations of piety move me and also Our Lord has such confidence in the incredible skills which He has granted me, I have had worked the occasional small miracle. But more of that trifle anon.

At the beginning of August, I lead the army over the Tatras thence over the Sudeten Mountains and finally over the High Carpathians to reach the plain of the Danube. This was a most tedious endeavor with the need to haul our guns and wagons up these steep assents. Horse, oxen and men were all employed but could not speed the toil. I gave much thought to a manner or engine which could speed such a traverse. No thought came to me at the time but anon this problem I resolved in a most brilliant manner as I shall soon relate.

By the end of the first week of September, I had guided the noble army of the Commonwealth, as fine a force as ever marched since I had the hand in raising it, over all the obstacles and we descended to meet our allies and, soon enough, our enemies.

Of course, the liberation of Vienna would prove to be no great problem now that I had put my mind to it, but I was more concerned of the aftermath. For I knew well that the goal was not the mere conquest of territory but the seizure of a prize of such inestimable value that the Turks' Masters, or should I say Mistress, would squander the whole resources of the empire to achieve. But more of that anon…

Excerpts from the Diary of Leviathan Cherrychoate:

August the 31st, A.D. 1683

Much rejoicing in the town for the latest adventure of Sandorius. He did divine underground paths to the fields where the Turks keep their flocks and with greatest effort did trace a small tunnel beneath them and snatched much mutton and goat. So there has been a revictualing of the garrison at least for a few weeks more. Staremberg ordered a great and noisy celebration with illuminations to give frustration to the Turks. The Grand Vizier himself was seen to look through his glass at our feasting and was said to have appeared much vexed. I spied with him a most wonderfully immodestly clad houri, at the sight of whose shapely naked belly I didst rival all the tall weaponry of a regiment of pike.

As a result, following the feast, I did contrive to counterfeit a swoon and called out for the Countess von S. to deliver me from my fever. However, the Countess was indisposed and a new nurse, younger but as pretty as the Countess did attend upon me. Fortunately, Doctor Pfalzschwanz must have taken my lesson to heart and hath apparently schooled, no doubt personally, all of his nurses in the Cherrycoate methodology of fever relief. I found the girl, whose name I cannot recall, to have been most attentive and willing in the treatment and we were soon well about the business. And so, much relieved, to bed.

September the 5th, A.D. 1683

Sandorius did rescue us yet again. Using his skill, he did divine that the Turks had progressed three great mines towards our walls. He called these to the attention of our artillery and all three were blown up with great vexation to the Turk. It is said that Austrian cavalry has been seen near the city and is in skirmish with the Turks. God grant them speed and victory.

Did go to the house of the Countess von S., complaining of fever, to celebrate but found her being instructed by Doctor Pfalzschwanz and so left, much vexed. I shall not follow in the traces where a lewdster greater than myself hath rode.

September the 5th, A.D. 1683
From the Camp of the Army of the Sublime Porte
Before Vienna
In the Realm of the Emperor Leopold

To Madame Nelle Lyzzard-Penruddick
Marshalsee Debtor's Goal

Dearest Mother,

I am still in dolorous bondage to the heathen with my life in danger at every moment. How fares my cat?

The valiant garrison of Vienna still holds. The courage they show is almost English in its tenacity. I continue in my game with the Vizier who grows more angry and frustrated with each passing day and each untied knot upon the firman. It lacks but ten days until the last knot is untied and the horrid Kara Mustafa sent to his death and me along with him.

Most recently, three great mines were sent below the town and near completion. Somehow, the garrison learned of their location and destroyed them by cannon-fire. The superstitious Turks say that Vienna hath a magician or two else it twould have fallen long ago. Rubbish, of course, it is merely the work of an Austrian spy.

The slave Sufi hath proven to be a great and loyal friend, often advising me, in that distinctive falsetto voice of his, on the course to take to frustrate the Vizier. He was stolen from his home in Al-Soodan, a land beyond Upper Egypt and reduced to his pitiable unmanly state by the Turk and so has no love for them to lose.

About the time the mines were wrecked, a messenger came in from the Khan, saying that a great body of Christian cavalry was now operating but a few leagues to the west. The generals were most distracted by the report that there might be Polish horse amongst them, the Turks being much afeared of the King John and his army. After much cajoling, the generals convinced Kara Mustafa to reconnoiter himself. I easily convinced him to take me along and needs ride behind him on a well-bedecked she-camel called Fatima.

After a very short journey o'er the hills to the west of the city, we came to the lines of the Krim Tartars. These fierce befurred horse archers are the most evil looking and foul smelling soldiers I have seen yet. It was said that close on eight thousand of them screen the army and act as scout. The Khan, Hadji Gersai took us to where the Austrian cavalry could be observed. On a nearby hill sat several thousand of this horse, all Austrian to my untrained eye. Kara Mustafa flew into a rage and ordered the Khan to drive them off and why had his time been wasted so on such a trifle. The Tartars flew towards the Austrians to shower them with arrow. Soon however, a great banner was flung up from within a small dip in the land which had been quite invisible from where we stood. The banner was red with a great white eagle upon it and hardby it a host of several thousand plumed and armored soldiers sprung up and discharged muskets very rapidly at the Tartars. Soon the Tartars were fleeing in panic having left several hundred of their number dead upon the field.

There was great tumult amongst the generals who called for Kara Mustafa to order the outward fortification of the great camp. Upon Sufi's suggestion, I implored him to desist in this design, stating that a simple ditch would stop no horseman worth his salt. Kara Mustafa had come to think of me as a great strategist due to my beating him so often at chess. He agreed with alacrity and called for isolated redoubts facing inward to be placed. Thus would the enemy horse be funneled into a killing field and destroyed. Now the most senior of the generals, Ibrahim, the Pasha of Buda, demurred to this, saying it was not logical and the separate redoubts could be taken in turn. Kara Mustafa dismissed this thought, especially after I removed several of my outer garments on account of the sun. Ibrahim Pasha and the other generals went away much vexed and we returned to the camp.

I know soon the army of relief shall arrive and a great battle shall be fought. Most likely, I shall not survive but I shall die happy knowing I have served the greater good.

Your Loving Daughter

Excerpts from the Diary of Leviathan Cherrychoate:

September 11th, A.D. 1683

This whole week have the Turks been raising the greatest commotion. It is quite clear that they are about a general assault upon the town, no doubt to take us afore the army of relief arrives. Their saps are now driven quite close to the walls and the mortars and great cannons do play most terribly upon us. Many more have died this week than in the whole siege afore. The boil-brained General and the crook-pated Archbishop are of course quite joyful at this, the spleeny Archbishop saying, "The copulating catamites are on their last leg. They shall have one fornicating chance to crush us and then fornicating Lorraine and fornicating King John shall have them by the marbles, the copulating catamites." What the plume-pluckered prelate does not mention is that as likely the Turk shall have us by the marbles well before the army of relief arrives. The officers of the garrison are all agreed that the attack shall come tomorrow at the dawn. And so, much troubled to bed, for what may be my last night's rest upon this earth. Too troubled to take Maria more than twice.

Addendum: Sandorius hath just awakened me, it being about four of the o'clock in the morning. He said that a signal rocket has been seen flying from the Kalhenberg Heights to the west of the city. The army of relief hath arrived! But I also can hear the beating of the great drums in the Turkish camp and over the din of cannon I can hear the Mohammedean priests calling upon the soldiers to give their lives for their god and their prophet…

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