Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Part the XIth - The King Comes Unto His Own

Excerpts from the Diary of Leviathan Cherrychoate:

October the 8th, A.D. 1683

…The boy Eduard released me from my bonds, all the while bedeviling me with questions on how one might get hold of yon fleecy maiden addicted to gallantry. But I answered him not, though not from fear of corrupting the lad, who bore well and truly more murderous sins upon his soul than I could have got from three life-times of lechery.

Once freed, I quickly dressed and followed my dame out o'er the rooftops. Now it might be thought strange that I would so play the hero, being much more enamored of the worship of Venus than Mars. However, I didst know that our one hope of finding the lost library must needs be the rescue of the hedge-priest Father Sergius. And Laylah had that effective murderous way about her such that I perceive she would be of the greatest of assistance in our endeavor. Not to mention that she had been a most vigorous rattle.

Thus I did follow her across the roof and found her crouched down near the edge, o'erlooking the square. Below us, all attention of both Ruritani and Turk had turned to the loggerheaded Prince Radivill. Lord, thinks I, pity the poor souls below if they must depend on that tickle-brain to prevent a massacre.

Twas then I noticed that Laylah was gazing intently pon the visage of the Prince with quite a smitten look in her face. She inquired of me who so comely a man might be. To which, I replied, much offended given that we had just sported the past hour, "Give o'er madam. That feckle-brain lout is an idiot. Surely you could not desire to consort with such a beetle-headed barnacle as he!"

To which she replied, "Well, I would not asking him to declaim for me." At which her lips curled into a most lascivious grin.

To change the subject I put it to her that she should aid the meeling coxcomb then and help drive out the Turk. To which she scowled and pulled what at first glance I perceived as a great whip from her coat. I cringed as she began to twirl the thing about her head. But the whip grew into a great cord which she did lash clean across the town square and intangle the arm on the great clock in town hall across from us. She then made to swing herself cross in most daring fashion.

Now, in but a moment's time, I thought out my course of action. If I stayed where I was, I twould be left with Eduard who was already honing the edge of his great sword for another bout of Turk-murder. If I tried to flee back down the steps, twould only leave me upon the square and a possible victim of yon impending massacre. Now, in the good brigandress Laylah, I did perceive one who knew her way about the town and couldst protect me from the various madmen who had been given the liberty of this pestilential place. Thus, as she flew from the roof, I didst grab strong hold of her curvaceous form and swung with her.

She managed to sweep down o'er the table filled with the rich wedding gifts, scoop up several of the treasures and flail me about the head and shoulders all at the same time, cursing me for the fool all the while. For a nonce I thought we were back to love-making.

We came to rest upon a balustrade of the town hall. I noticed that the square was all tumult, as I expected with the protean-bellied Ziglova hurling barrels of liquor about and then didst ignite them. Now I do not know by what process Brefnish is made but there must be something alchymical about it, for the barrels did explode with a great fury such as no ordinary spirits could produce. All were knocked down save that preening Prince who of course looked part centaur by the manner in which he gracefully circumrotated the square upon a purloined charger. I also perceived the weighty Ziglova burdening another Arab horse, which looked like to be ruptured but did suffer the great sack of man-blubber upon its back with great fortitude.

The townsfolk took the opportunity and began to flee from the Turks whose ranks had been quite broken by the blast. The heathens seemed bent upon apprehending the roguish royalty and pauchy Polack and so let the commoners fly. Throughout this I stood upon the balustrade and fired at any Turk who came near the Prince. Now one might think it strange that I strove to protect one against whom I had sworn vengeance but I did so on two accounts. The first being that I nowise wished so easy and honorable a demise for the gleeking giglet; I reserved the right to humiliate him to myself. The second was the realization that I had lost sight of Sandorius and thus the clot-headed Prince might be my only way out of this dankish weedy land.

Betimes I saw that, as usual, nothing could harm the Prince. He flailed about the square cutting down all who tried to stand against him. Realizing him safe and hearing the sound of Turkish soldiers entering the hall, I realized I must needs make my escape. As fortune would have it, the saucy Laylah comes riding by, directly below. I flung myself and landed hardly pon the back of her horse.

At first I thought she might cut me down but recognizing me, she merely cursed and ordered me off the horse. To which I replied that I hated to turn up so often as a bad penny but I did need this small favor from her. I then gave her my most devilish smile which hath been known to melt the hearts of women from Penzance to Peshawar. She cursed me again but did not attempt to fling me off. So I took a better hold and clasped strong her fine buxomness.

Now twas well I had such a firm grip as we soon came upon a line of Turkish musketeers blocking our egress from the square. She gave a mighty kick to the horse and we flew clear o'er the heads of the Turks. I did wonder at the strength of these Ruritanian mounts which could fly when burdened by two riders and even walk when burdened by one Zagloba.

As I looked back I noticed the two Walloons, Jules and Jacques Fufroque, gleefully robbing Turk and Ruritani alike as well as putting in the boot judiciously. However the last thing I noticed was that claybrained codpiece of a Prince astride his great Arab charger hallooing and walloping the Turks all about my pimp cart. I will give the feckle-brained idiot his due, he looked ever the part of a King.

8th October 1683
To His Excellency Adam Sieniawski, Field Hetman, Crown Army
From Georgina, Grafein von Schnitterboch-Falkenburg, Rotamistress of the Foreign Autorament

In keeping with my prior practice of reporting significant events to superiors, I write to you following my separation from Prince Radziwill's Corps during our raid into the Ruritanian lands. The prince and a group of his officers, myself included, had attempted to reconnoiter the principal city of the province in disguise.

Now we chanced to enter the town during a wedding celebration towards the end of which the local populace became quite turbulent. The Turkish garrison was called out and surrounded the square. As fortune would have it, the Prince soon became the focus of the Turk's attention. Hoping to create a diversion as well as a means of escape, I approached the janissaries guarding one of the entrances to the town square. Now I was disguised in harem costume and I did play to the soldiery's lust most shamelessly, improvising a dance of the undulating belly such as is common in their country.

Unfortunately, the large gem which Herr Cherrycoate had thrust into my navel began to tickly me and a loud laugh escaped my lips and my veil slipped revealing my blond hair. At this, one of the Janissaries called out that I was not a simple dancer but an Austrian horse or some such insult and they seized me before I could resist. Their officer ordered me to be taken to the pasha and two soldiers held me by the arms and led me off.

We were walking down a small side street when I noticed ahead of us a large wagon filled with crates and several local Christians nearby. Thinking this an opportune time to attempt an escape, I brought up both my legs and kicked each of my captors squarely in the face. I then called out for help. The Ruritanians responded with alacrity and I was soon set a liberty and the bodies of my erstwhile captors disposed of.

The pair then told me they would help me escape. When I insisted that I should return to aid the Prince, they were most vociferous in their pleas that I not go, saying that the Turks were arresting everyone in square. They said they were members of the Rebel Cadre and they would take me to their leader, one Laszlo, who should lend whatever assistance he could to our enterprise.

They secreted me in one of the large crates and we were soon away from the town. Thus I write this report from inside the crate, using one of my few remaining scarves as parchment, axle grease as ink and packing straws as both quill and light source. I shall report further anon.

Addendum: I should note that immediately upon our arrival Colonel van der Snaecht did disappear from us and was not seen ere I left the square. Of course, I did not have the opportunity to visit any of the Turk's opium dens to obtain his whereabouts.

Excerpts from The Memoirs of Oktawjan Zagloba:

Chapter XXXVII
How I Revolutionized Western Civilization

…With these word from the holy man, the Turks attention was drawn to the Prince, who did one of the few intelligent things in his life and closed his caftan. Several Turkish horsemen rode to encircle the Prince.
I hid myself behind the casks of Brefnish waiting for the opportunity to strike. The situation was very volatile with the square full of women and children and the garrison most uneasy. I did not wish to precipitate a massacre. We also had been disarmed at the gates so I devoted the power of my awesome intellect to determine the best course of action.
Faced with the Turks, the Prince showed surprising discretion. No doubt my long association with him and tireless instruction had finally begun to penetrate that vast wilderness which was his mind.
Whilst the Prince prevaricated, I hit upon a plan. Having calculated the correct angle of attack, I tossed a barrel of brefnish at the officer commanding the Turkish horse. Due to my flawless calculations, this struck him squarely upon the chest and knocked him from his horse. The Prince chose this moment to empty the contents of the chamberpot, adding to the remnants of brefnish in my thrown barrel whose vapours swirled in visible eddies over the square.
Several janissaries who were moving through the crowd, saw my actions, approached me and called for me to surrender almost as soon as the cask had left my hand. I jumped on one corner of the table causing another barrel which was perched on the opposite end to fly upward over the janissaries. I immediately and deftly took up a pipe from a nearby celebrant, held the glowing bowl to my lips and then let out a great belch. A flame shot forth from my mouth and ignited the barrel I had just lofted at the janissaries. The force of the explosion mixed with fumes of brefnish and urine sent a great power wave of shock through the square, knocking all down about me. Due to my impressive dexterity, I was able to keep my feet and hurled myself upon a nearby horse.
Now Turkish horses are small and weak creatures for this one had some difficult when first I had lightly leapt onto its back and I was not even in heavy armor.
In a short time, the local populace was streaming out of the square and the Turks turned their attention solely upon the Prince and myself.
Elsewhere, as I later learned, Sandorius had picked a fight with some Turkish soldiers. He was thus taken roughly to the fortress to be hurled into the dungeon. The Little Orphan had also attempted to enter the fortress on her own. No doubt attempting to impress me with her initiative.
She was attempting to enter the castle's dungeon when Sandorius was brought there under guard. Not having a key she had to secret herself near the doorway. Since I had trained her in acrobatics and the art of escape, she drew herself up against the top of the doorway, clinging precariously to the stones above the Turks' heads. Not having my great strength, she fell just as Sandorius was being brought thither.
Now I had mentioned that Sandorius can be most disagreeable and ill-tempered and this proved to be such a time. Recovering, he drove his captors heads into the walls of the dungeon. He and the Little Orphan quickly entered the place and drew the supine bodies of their enemies after them. The guards were quickly and viciously dispatched by the Little Orphan whilst Sandorius searched for the priest Sergius.
Finding the man as the only prisoner, Sandorius quickly convinced him that a rescue was intended. For the next several minutes, he worked his magic upon the walls of the cell whilst the Little Orphan stood watch and quietly but gleefully dispatched any Turk who came to investigate the odd sounds coming from the dungeon.
In time, the spell was cast and a great gap simply formed in the outer walls. Sandorius, the priest and the Little Orphan were soon able to walk away from the dungeon, although the latter had to be dissuaded from taken any Turkish head as trophies. The three joined the crowd of townspeople who were making their way from the square and no notice was taken of them. The boy Eduard soon joined them, although still wiping blood off the great sword which he habitually carried.
In time, Colonel van der Snaecht managed to join the group as well. He had apparently been ensconced in the garden of the nearby Mosque, occasionally attempting to back-shoot a Turk whilst lazily holding off the occasional ineffective assault by musselman elders.
Thus they all made their way out of the city.
In the meantime, the English girl, Wendyleen, attempted to come to my aid in a cart. The poor dear's heart was greater than her skill however, and she lost control of the vehicle and soon drove it into a great host of Turks. I attempted to rescue her but I was occupied by half the garrison at this point; the Prince having taken the opportunity to ride aimlessly in circles about the chaotic square. While dispatching two Turks with one blow, I called to the Prince to rescue the girl. Now the Prince must have been having one of his very few intelligent days for he instantly obeyed my command.
He rode over but, of course not having had me as his equestrian instructor, he immediately stomped upon Wendyleen's cart flinging the poor girl into the air. She landed atop the fortress keep and the Prince, courageous but dim as always, would have battered his head against the wall to rescue her. Now this would not necessarily have been an ineffective tool to use for this task but I prefer to rely upon stratagem rather than brute force. With great difficulty, I persuaded the Prince to give up on his hopeless task and said I would find a better way to rescue her.
And so we too came to leave the town, although I had to ride down several companies of janissaries who could not resist my enormous prowess as a knight...

Oct 8th, A.D. 1683

From the Province of Ruritania
In the Realm of the Sublime Porte

To Madame Nelle Lyzzard-Penruddick
Marshalsee Debtor's Goal

Dearest Mother,

I fear I am once again in heathen captivity, how bothersome. Tis truly becoming a habit which I must needs learn to avoid in future.
But to begin at the beginning, we had arrived in the province of Ruritania upon Doctor Sandorius' wild goose chase. This involved the rescue of one Father Sergius who might have intelligence pon the charlatan's quest. Now I did not object since, having been in durance vile these many months, I cannot gainsay assistance to any likewise suffering. Also, fair Waddie is most loyal to his friends and didst eagerly wish to assist Sandorius e'en though he claims not to actually understand what Sandorius is about.
We left our strong escort in hiding some miles from Streltsova, the chief town in the region and did hazard to go clandestine amongst the Turks. To my disgrace, I went disguised as a common trull, together with the Countess Georgina and the one they call Little Orphan Annie. The worst particular was that the vile Cherrycoate must needs masquerade as our procurer and he, claiming to be merely acting the part, did ogle and manhandle us in a low manner until I rapped him firmly twixt his legs with a large mace shaft which Mister Zagloba was kind enough to lend me for the purpose.
We thus went amongst the Ruritanians who were celebrating a wedding feast in the town square. I did learn much intelligence concerning the town and the whereabouts of Father Sergius. I had just informed my harem sisters of this when a great host of Turks came out of the town's castle and did threaten the good people of the town most menacingly.
Betimes, all attention was focused upon dear honest Waddie. Although I could not hear what this tumult was about, there was much disputation over the Prince and the Turkish horse surrounded him.
At this, I flew to our cart, hoping to be at hand with a conveyance of rescue once Waddie's strong arm won himself free of the ruffians. A brawl soon erupted and Mister Zagloba began tossing casks of the local brandy about. One of these exploded with great force, laying low all who were in the town square but also causing the horses of the cart to bolt. Although I tried desperately to control them, I could not and my vision was obscured by a tarpaulin from a nearby stall which fell across the cart, horse and all.
The cart began thus a mad course and I could hear the crunch of bones when it rolled o'er several janissaries. Apparently a whole company had tried to arrest my progress but fell victim to the maddened horses and careening wheels.
Betimes I was able to gain control ere the horses crashed through the gates of the castle and the cart halted hardby the gates. A great host of Turks did then assail me and only with the greatest difficulty did I hold them at bay with a dagger and Cherrycoate-beater.
Suddenly, like a vision, Waddie, seated upon a fiery white charger, lept completely over several nearby Turkish horsemen, a bloody scimitar waving in his hands, calling that he would rescue me. Whole dozens fell before his whirling blade and I thought that he would once again deliver me.
My hopes were to be disappointed however. In the tumult, his charger did rear upon its hind legs and then came crashing down upon one end of the cart. This unbalanced the vehicle and propelled me upward much like a catapult. I tumbled quickly and regained my feet without injury.
Unfortunately, I had come to rest upon the top of the great castle's keep and was soon surrounded by the Turkish gunners therein. Although I managed to keep them at bay as well, in time, more Turks, this time janissaries came up. The town pasha had sent them to discover why they had not fired their guns into the town. Upon finding me thus, they fell upon me as well and betimes I was held and bound.
The pasha himself came to interview me, asking who I was and if I had a hand in rescuing the priest who had just escaped. Afore I could throw his words back in his own face, I heard a manful if plaintive cry, "Nevew feaw, Wenyween. Whewevew they take you, I shall wescue you."
A great warmth came to my heart at these words and I stood proudly before these heathens and spake thus, "If you surrender now, I can promise you mercy. If you tarry, all shall be lost. For you face a double doom, the wrath of mighty Prince Radziwill and the stout heart of true-blooded English girl!"
So now I am held in the dungeon awaiting my valiant Prince. I shall write to again following my rescue.

Your loving daughter,

From the Collected Ruritanian Folktales, ed. A. Esterhazy (Nish-Strelstova 1932), excerpts from the story of The Wedding of Hozzenko the Brigand:

…Now when Bob Frncko had proclaimed Prince Vlad, King, the filthy evil nasty Turks grew very cross. They sent a thousand horsemen and two thousand janissaries to catch him. But these the prince slew, so they sent against him five thousand more. And the Lord God sent down a great fireball from heaven which smote these minions down. And the prettiest angel Wendy flew up to topless towers of Streltsova and threw star dust into the Turks' eyes so that they could not fire their cowardly cannons. And so the new King protected and guarded his people, so that not even a hair on the head of the youngest of the Ruritsy were harmed while the Turks fell in their thousands.
In time, even the mighty arm of King Vlad grew weary from the hewing of the unbelievers and the King's fool, Zagloba, who could eat in one sitting one hundred thousand chevapchichi, a whole herd of cattle and two hundred dozen cinnamon blinies for dessert, complained that he was hungry.
So the King rode off on his mighty white charger, Istermay Edski, over all the roofs of Streltsova, all the time calling out that he would free his angel and the faithful Ruritsy as well…

No comments: