Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Part the XVth - The Leviathans
Excerpts from The Memoirs of Oktawjan Zagloba:
How I Revolutionized Western Civilization
…After my brilliant discovery and flawless decipherment of the entrance to Dr. Dee's Memory Palace, I led our party back to the camp at the Field of Minks. It was there that we discovered that the Turks had not forgotten us.
Our scouts reported that a large force of our enemies was approaching. Springing quickly into action, I ordered our forces to prepare. I placed the wagons of our camp into a tabor just at the edge of the great woods. In the center, the Walloon Regiment would form the anchor of the line. It was supported by two of my Light Mortars Whose Trajectory was Highly Angled So as to Engage Targets Far Above Them. Upon the Walloons' left flank, I placed two mobs of the Ruritania militia, who though untrained showed a high degree of morale because I was the true leader in this battle. To support them I placed a battery of the Large Rocket Propelled Explosive Devices Intended to Carry Great Distances in High Ballistic Arcs as well as leaving the Countess Georgina as their commander. As I left her, the poor girl's heart was aching with concern for my safety but such is the soldier's lot.
Upon the other flank, Laylah, the most beautiful Brigand Chief, who I slept with and she quite enjoyed it, formed up those of her nefarious crew who would not be joining my Flying Column. Ere I left, I encircled her thin waste in my manly arms and placed a light kiss upon her lips, from which, of course, she nearly swooned from passion.
Upon the extreme right flank, I placed Prince Radziwill and his hussars, knowing these bright butterflies would attract the attention of the Turkish host now advancing upon us.
For this thin line was to be only but a lure to the Turks. The true meat of our attack would come from my Flying Column which would strike them upon their right flank once they were engaged against our camp. For this purpose, I had gathered the pancerni horse under the Little Orphan as well as a mounted troop of Laylah's Brigands. I might not have mentioned that Laylah was quite beautiful, I slept with her, and she quite enjoyed it. To these I add two of my New Lightly-Wrought Field Mortars Based Upon an Easily Drawn Carriage For Rapid Movement Upon the Field of Battle and, of course, the Greater and Lesser Self-Propelled Tabor-Wagons Containing an Engine which Translates Steam Pressure into Rotary Motion by Means a series of Pistons and Rotary Gears. Now the English girl, Wendyleen, who was a mechanically inclined as she was pretty as well as infatuated with me, I permitted to direct the Lesser Self-Propelled Tabor-Wagon Containing an Engine which Translates Steam Pressure into Rotary Motion by Means a series of Pistons and Rotary Gears. For this she was most grateful and the cause of much jealousy from the other ladies of our company for achieving so much of my favor. For no woman can for long resist the near gravitational attractiveness of myself.
I quickly led the flying column into the light woods in advance of the left flank of our position. From here I could discern the Turks advancing against us. The first sight of course was that of the two flying vessels, one a French ship of the line and the other a large Turkish galley bearing the ensign of the Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa himself. These were held aloft by great metal spheres which no doubt contained vacuums in the manner described by the Jesuit Lana-Terzi. Below these formidable leviathans, the Turkish garrison of Streltsova marched. The vanguard consisted of a troop of Sipahi cavalry together with a company of rocketeers. Behind them followed the main body consisting of two regiments of janissaries protected on either flank by batteries of quick-firing heavy ribauldiquins and also on each flank, a regiment of Turkish militia. I also saw upon the right flank of this body, the terrible dark vehicle of the Grand Vizier's Gypsies and their dreaded witch leader. Our enemy's force was completed by a rear guard consisting of a regiment of French marines as well as a great host of French mariners, both no doubt landed from the French warship.
Observing this, I took the opportunity to harangue the troops of my Flying Column ere we entered into battle. I began with citation of the various brave deeds of the noble Trojans, followed by reference to Leonidas and his Spartans as well as Horatius at the bridge. However, I had barely gotten to Julius Caesar when the boy Eduard spoiled much of the effect by claiming that our friends were hotly assailed by the enemy. He then ran off to join the battle. Ignoring the over-excited youth, I continued with several memorable oratorical flourishes which I later had inscribed upon sixteen great marble tablets in the Church of Saint Yozhinka the Almost Chaste. Upon completion of my speech I noticed that I had greatly calmed the trepidation of my men, some of whom demonstrated their sang-froid by feigning sleep.
Thus to the rumble of cannons, I lead them forth…
Excerpts from the Diary of Leviathan Cherrychoate:
October the 13th, A.D. 1683
Barely had we time to return to the camp and the Prince to dispose his forces than the enemy was upon us. Ziglova didst lead out the light forces and his steam wagons as a flanking force and thus were we left with such a thin force of foot that I feared greatly our rapid destruction.
For the Turks and their Froggy allies did come in great force, especially their flying ships, which we learned later were called L'Phoebus, in the case of the French galleon, and Suleiman, in the case of Kara Mustafa's galley. Aiding them was the strong garrison of Streltsova. I am not shamed to admit when I didst see this great armament that mine spine turned to pudding and mine bladder unto a sieve.
Sandorius places himself in the midst of the Walloons and does begin the preparation of some of his magics. Afore this, he orders me, to mine horror, to take myself up upon the flying carpet which Ziglova plundered from the Turkish camp at Vienna. I am to fly to the aerial ships and toss upon them some of my Fire Grenadoes to set the monstrous things alight. I have learned that Sandorius cannot be gainsaid in such matters and so do find myself clinging upon the fringes of the mad carpet, hovering about our camp and trying to avoid collision with the numerous pine trees here abouts.
Then does the great French ship advance quickly with the wind to her stern. With great revulsions, I perceive the currish clack-dish DeDulier upon her quarterdeck. L'Phoebus turns to present a broadside that fires all down the line. As fortune would have it, only the Ruritanian militia are touched with several ranks of their number struck down. But the manure-clothed bumpkins are such enflamed with ardor for their new King that they emulate his stupidity and hold their impossible position. The Turkish galley also advanced, firing both its forward guns at our mortar battery, killing some of our gunners therein.
Soon I had hope for I did perceive that the first force of Ziglova's flying column joined the battle. This was the advance of the Brigand Horse, under the Lithuanie Tartar Selim Mirski who showed little mercy for his co-religionists amongst the Turkish militia. His men charged furiously but failed to surprise the Turks and the two became locked in combat mortal.
Twas at this point that the boy Eduard arrived upon the field. He had crept clandestine from the woods to our left into a small culvert and then did fling himself up against the Gypsy witchwoman. He would have slain the morbid maggot-pie but she moved too quick through use of her magics. And soon the rest of that evil crew of malt-worms were about the boy and hacking at him unmercifully. To my amazement, the boy did hold his own most puissantly and I was amazed yet again of the nation that could produce such a ravenous warhound at such a tender age.
Now the fore of the Turkish van approached and the company of rocketeers fired their weapons full into our lines. Thus did the first rank of the valiant if pecunious Walloons fell. But the Lowlanders held their ground, especially after Colonel van der Snatch offered to treat all that survived to drinks. The Colonel, normally a lazy layabout, proved for once vigorous and directed the fire of the high-angled mortars with much effect upon the French Galleon.
Seeing this, Sandorius did scream for me to fly and strike the Turkish galley. I thus took the flying carpet and went up but could not rise to the same level as the Turkish ship but didst lob the Fire Grenado gainst meekly upward. As fortune would have it, a crewman looked over the rail at this moment and the grenado struck him full in the face. As his flaming corpse was falling from the side of the ship, the rest of the crew turned their muskets upon me and shot the carpet full of holes. By greatest fortune I was only minorly hurt but the carpet plummeted and only by great effort and luck did I find purchase up the top of a high pine. From this place, I endeavored that I would not stir and did but intend to observe the remainder of the battle as mere spectator.
Twas at this point that Prince Radivill advanced his company of winged hussars nearby, hoping to gain position on a small rise from which to assail the Turkish left. The Turkish Sipahi horse, seeing this, then charged, intending to strike the Prince's horse in the flank whilst their foot and the ribauldiquins shot them from afore. But the Prince turned his horse and countercharged and struck down the slope upon the Turks. Most were overthrown and the rest fled. But the winged hussars were not finished for they went thither against the ribauldiquin crews who were quite unmanned and did not fire nor even flee but merely died by their guns. Truly, though the Prince be a loggerheaded, dizzy-eyed flap-doodle, he twas as fine a cavalryman as ere I saw. Upon reflection, truth to say, being a loggerheaded dizzy-eyed flap-doodle is perchance the best recommendation to being a cavalryman.
The puzzle-noodled Prince now stood in the midst of the Turkish line and wheeled his troop about to take the janissaries from the rear. As he approached, the Prince encountered the commander of this troop, a Frenchman we later learned was Comte d'Escargot, a notable soldier and reputed to be the finest swordsman in Western Europe. They crossed swords and in a thrice, the Frenchman was o'ercome, wounded and fleeing for his life. The hussars in the meanwhile were cutting their way vigorously through the first regiment of janissaries. These defended themselves heartily but proved to be no match for the fur-clad winged horsemen.
Fat-kidneyed Ziglova now arrived with his steam wagons like unto a whirlwind. He fired his swivels into the regiment of janissaries and likewise into the battery of ribauldiquins, causing much mortality amongst both. The onrushing of his vehicle scattered the Gypsies and thus saved the boy Eduard.
Simultaneously, he fired the rockets up unto the great French galleon. One of these ran pon the bottom of the hull afore turning up and striking through unto the bow powder magazine. A great explosion of fire and smoke came forth from L'Phoebus but the mighty ship seemed to bear the heavy bow easily.
Ziglova would have advanced further upon the field but for the Gypsy witch. This reeky death-token didst raise up her hands and utter some foul necromancy. At which the engine of the wagon failed with a loud huffing of steam. Ziglova then produced his many-barreled musketoon and shot the evil she-bitch dead with a multitude of shots which transmuted her flesh unto a fine red mist.
Then the smaller of the steam wagons followed but this time on the far side of the creek. At its helm was the delectable harpy Penruddick who for once turned her wrath pon someone other than myself. The regiment of French marines turned to face the steaming land vessel and suffered the discharge of the swivel gun which tore great holes in their ranks. But the French held and prepared to board the smaller wagon but could not for the want of officers sufficient to lead them. The Walloons, Jules and Jacques, having experience at shooting down their own officers who displeased them, were experts in this task and soon brought low most of the officers of the proud French battalion.
Now however, L'Phoebus' guns had been reloaded and she didst send vigorous broadsides to the left and right. Much mortality was dealt again to the Ruritanians, including the erstwhile leaders of the Revolution, Brankopan and Frankenfallafal whose incessant bickering thus suffered the ultimate silencing. In the meanwhile, the Walloons achieved some degree of vengeance since, with steady well-aimed fire, they brought down the dreaded rocketeers who had caused much casualty amongst them. The lazy Colonel did actually manage to bestir himself enough to bring down their captain himself.
Much of the weight of L'Phoebus' broadside had been directed at the steam wagons. Several shots caromed off the thick sides of Wendyleen's carriage and did but little damage. As fortune does sometime smile upon the sanctimonious, one of the French balls entered the cabin of the smaller wagon and knocked fair Wendyleen from her feet but harmed her not. She fell nonetheless and her jeweled arm scraped over the barrel of the swivel, striking sparks. Now this gun had been hastily loaded and the sparks caused a premature firing. By great good fortune, the gun fired forward, cutting down more of the remainder of the French marines.
At the same time, Annie the Little Orphan brought her armored horsemen pon the field and they didst endeavor to ride unto the enemy rear. But they came upon the great host of French mariners. Though outnumbered near two to one, the vicious Orphan and her men charged home in a most sanguine encounter. Most of the Little Orphan's men fell but so also didst most of the French and betimes, they both recoiled from each other. But the fearsome little wench rallied her men the sooner whilst the French had fled the field.
Thus we knew the rout of our landward foe but still the mighty ships hovered over the field and belikes could still smash our small and well-bloodied forces. Twas then my heart sank for I perceived another flying ship, coming over the hills with a bone in her teeth. My bowels quivered and came near to burst at this succor to our enemies and I did wonder how many flying ships King Louis had sent gainst us. But of a sudden, I perceived the flag hard on the mast of this new vessel and my despair was transformed unto the height of joy for twas none other than our own fine Saint George's Cross.
This new ship soon engaged the French galleon and raked her stern full and well. Added to this was a shot from vander Snep's mortars which fell directly pon the quarterdeck, killed all of the deck crew. LPhoebus then careened like a drunken bishop to and fro and came unto the course of the Turkish galley. So close now to my piney perch was this wreck-about-to-be, that I could read the great panic pon the face of Kara Mustafa who trembled like an uncooked Christmas pudding and called for rugbearer.
Of a sudden, a rocket let fly from Ziglova's wagon and it did carry into one of the holes torn into the Frenchman by the fire of the British ship. In a nonce, the galleon entire was consumed in a great and fiery explosion. The wrecked hull plunged unto the earth directly to the front of our embattled line.
At this Colonel vander Clot and his Walloons showed the greatest alacrity and charged unto the wreck of the French vessel, cutting down any crew who so remained. With great dedication and courage they put down the fires of the flaming decks and set to their favorite of tasks of plunder, looting and gold-tooth-pulling.
Now the debris of L'Phoebus scattered far and wide and much was flung onto the Suleiman. She was thus much buffeted and like to fall. Twas then that Kara Mustafa, whose miniscule courage doth make me look the Achilles, fled the vessel upon yet another of the flying carpets. As he enjoined the crew to die for Allah, I did take careful aim and fired one of mine Flame Bullets at the carpet. The last ere I saw of him that day was his carpet descending rapidly with much fire o'er the rocky hills of Slovatchkia.
As my luck would have it, the crew of Suleiman witnessed the demise of their Vizier and they, with the unreasonable passion of the Easterner, blamed me for it and prepared to put yet more lead into my vicinity. Twas then that I heard a most unearthly cry from Sandorius, calling yet again pon the spirit of dead King John. I clung tightly to mine boughly refuge, knowing the sequel to such a call. The ground of the hillside which lay below the Turkish galley and upon which my tree did stand was suddenly and violently transmuted unto air. With a might crash and clamor, I saw the Suleiman descending madly while I did perceive that my pine tree ascended, myself along with it.
Now my former master, Doctor Newton had propounded many laws and theorems regarding the gravitational lure of the earth and I did perceive that was about to enjoy near all of them personally.
My next conscious moment came when I did perceive the foul brefnish laced breath of Ziglova hard upon my face. "Arise, Cheerycoot," says he, "There is someone for who wants to see you."
I then arose and followed, most weak in the knees. I noted that the remainder of the Turks and French were dead, prisoner or fled. Thus we hied to the great mink pastures wherein rested the English man of war, which I saw was christened HMS Deus ex Machina. And who should be beside the sturdy vessel but no other than Doctor Newton in full discourse with Sandorius whilst hardby the clack-pated Prince played again at finger-counting.
As expected, Newton's first words to me were, "Well, you've certainly made a muddle of things, haven't you, Cherrycoate."
At this he directed his words back to Sandorius who had been expounding upon our adventures thus far. Says Newton, "Yes, DeDulier was the author of much treachery. He claimed to be a Huguenot when he was a spy for King Louis. He wheedled his way into my confidence and stole from me the plans for these flying vessels. Likewise, he learned of Sandorius' quest and sought to aid the Bloody Countess in acquiring the formulae for constructing the Tabula Primera.
"Speaking of which, Sandorius," says Newton, "Truly the Tabula is more pernicious than tis worth. I would most earnestly suggest that the notes which you had acquired of Dee be destroyed lest they fall into the wrong hands."
To which Sandorius nodded his assent but I did note some prevarication in his response.
I then spoke thus to Newton, "Master, I have done thy bidding this half year past, suffering much danger and humiliations. Perchance I might now return to sweet Cambridge?"
To which Newton shakes his head, saying, "Nay, Cherrycoate for seeing ye I would be minded too well of mine own humiliation at the hands of DeDulier. I think it far better that you tarry here."
Now this last unfairness did much dishearten me and I said as much to Newton but to no avail.
Betimes fair Penruddick doth approach and I think of another way for me to return unto England and likewise have a better chance to swivve whole batches of Penruddick women. I bowed lowly to her and spake thus, "Mistress Penruddick, all my travails hath taught me what a sinner I be. I am ready now to make right the wrong I hath done to you and your kin. I shall marry your sister!"
Penruddick blushed most pretty and for once was at a loss for words. But of a sudden, an odd look came upon her countenance and she began to speak, "That would mean you would be mine brother-in-the-law? Nay, nay, never shall I allow such a one as you to inflict yourself upon my dear sister!"
More in amazement than consternation, I turned speechless from her. I then did spy Laylah approach us and went to her to see if she might be willing. Much to my chagrin, she merely laughs at my suggestion and flings herself upon Ziglova, crying, "My great boar, let us celebrate. Allow me to slap you belly and ride the wave once more."
To which the pachydermial Polack doth respond, "Once? Why not five or six?" And with a great bellow lifts up the brigand girl and carries her toward to the Gypsy wagon.
But I do perceive that the wagon does shake most violent already, perhaps in anticipation of the violation it shall soon suffer. But Ziglova flings open the doors to it. To everyone's surprised, there is the boy Eduard, in venereal embrace with one of the Gypsy girls he had captured. As she cried out in lust, he pistoned away upon her, shouting all the while, "Chiirrycoot! Chiirrycoot! Chiirrycooot!"
Thus did I turn back towards Newton who had now engaged Penruddick. With much distate upon his face, he said "Oh, by the by, Mistress Penruddick, here is your cat." With this he hands he a great orange feline, full four stone. "Yes the only cat in Christendom not litter trained."
To which Penruddick replies, "I could not bear to break poor Descartes' spirit."
Newton merely shrugs and says, "Also, I have a letter from your mother. By assistance of the Second Lord of the Admiralty, I have been given use of this ship and have been given to offer you passage in it home."
At this the numb-brained Prince does of a sudden become aware, and begins to caterwaul most plaintively. "And no, deawest Wendyween, "says he with that most vexatious impedimentia in his speech. "Stay hewe in Wuwitania with me and be my queen."
At which, she does shake her head in much woe, "Oh, how ever shall I decide to choose between my beloved prince and my own dearest family?"
Then she does seem to recall her mother's letter that Newton placed in her hand. She opens it to read…
October 10, A.D. 1683
From Ponsonby Manor
To Mistress Wendyleen Penruddick
In the Province of Ruritania
In the Realm of the Sublime Porte
I received your letter of October 1st last which had been forwarded to me here from my former abiding. I am pleased to hear you are well and in good company. However, I do question the wisdom of your decision to go upon a foreign sight-seeing tour whilst our family was in such crisis. But then you were always such a flighty girl and selfish to an extreme.
Fortunately, I have quite repaired our family’s fortune myself. With little help from you, I might add.
I did happen to send a brief note to dear Lord Ponsonby, who you may remember as a frequent visitor to our home after your late father's demise and who is currently serving as Second Lord of the Admiralty. How he did chance to learn of my unfortunate circumstances I can scarce guess but he was quite generous in his assistance. We were wed upon the second of September and reside now on Lord Ponsonby’s estate in Wiltshire. However, much of our time is spent at Court where I have renewed several old acquaintances and His Majesty has been most gracious in remembrance of our friendship of years past.
Your sister Honoria’s indiscretion has been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction and she wed the father of her expectant child some three days after you had so abruptly departed upon your holiday.
I did note you had related some difficulty in your travels, but your story was most muddled and confused. I turned these questions over to Lord Ponsonby and am sure that he shall be able to sort them out.
I also noted some confusion from your letter regarding an apprentice to some Doctor Newton, alleging him to be the author of Honoria's dishonour. Whither you had gotten such a misapprehension, I know not. I am sure that I told you the man who had got Honoria into her difficulty was Doctor Prentice of Newtown and not, as you seem to believe, Doctor Newton’s prentice. But then you always were always such a flit and given to inattention to me.
By the by, I did receive the small financial gift you had sent to me and do express my gratitude for the thought if not the amount. Unfortunately, I had a bad run of luck at the table when last we visited the Earl of Argyll and so lost all of your gift. Do be a dear child and forward to me some additional funding, so I might be able to present myself well in society.
Your Loving Mother,
Nelle, Lady Ponsonby, nee Lyzzard-Penruddick
I am also returning to you by this messenger your cat. Please insure that this dreadful creature is never brought into my presence again.
October 13, A.D. 1683
From the Kingdom of Ruritania
To Lady Ponsonby
From Ponsonby Manor
I have my cat. I am marrying the Prince. Go fornicate thyself.
Your loving daughter