(Below, right) The Liebgarde Feratu-Osterberg (in red) move up to engage the Margravial flanking force. Volleys are exchanged. The guard exhibit the familiar attributes that mark them out as elite troops in Mittelheim: that is, they are still here, and they are mainly awake. Barlow's Regiment, in grey, display remarkable sang froid, standing unmoved as directly behind them the two regiments of Wurstburp musketeers with a shout charge with the bayonet. The earl of Bragge encourages his men in their assault upon the Vulgarian foot guards. 'For God and our margrave!' he shouts loudly. 'Badwurst-Wurstburp forever - or at least for some considerable period of time henceforth!' he roars.
Through his telescope, Wurstburp's commander, general Unpronunski, looks on in concern.
'Our troops are in some disorder!' he says. 'We have taken too much of their musketry!'
Prince Karl scoffs. 'Fie and tush!' he cries. 'Tush and fie!' he continues. 'And also fie and fie, and tush and tush!' he adds for completeness. 'Though our troops indeed have been in better condition, so has the enemy guard regiment - it is badly weakened - see the ragged state of their lines! Moreover, we outnumber them two to one; and we are skilled with the bayonet; and we have the benefits of the leadership of the earl of Bragge himself. I sense something big appearing soon, and I don't mean my morning motion.'
(Below) Bragge's troops storm forwards in an attempt to get, not just medieval on the Vulgarians, but also somewhat into the early renaissance as well.
'Hold the line! Hold the Line!' shouts Rentall. The officers of the guard regiment respond, shrugging of the effects of the terrible disorder afflicting the unit with the same insouciance that they might shrug off calls for greater social justice. As hand-to-hand combat is joined, the Vulgarian foot guards fight like their lives depend upon it: which, of course, it rather does.
'Gah!' shouts Pronunski. 'The enemy regiment seems to be ignoring the terrible disorder that it is in!'
Prince Karl taps his nose knowingly. 'That may be, general: but we have another card up our sleeve.'
'Do we?' the general asks. 'Because I'm not sure that keeping cards up our sleeves is strictly allowed ....'
'No, my lord. Not literally. I mean that we have the advantage of our soldiers' religious convictions. See, over there!' he points.
As the cleric really begins to warm to his theme and moves onto an explanation of what Jesus would do if he were subject to Vulgarian musketry, two dark figures stand nearby in conversation.
'What's it like, you know, on the Other Side?' asks Cheese as Death pauses in his efforts.
Death contemplates this question for a moment. 'Have you ever been to Llandudno?'
'Well then, it's difficult to describe.'
Cheese nods. 'Very well. But did you get a sense of who was ... in charge, as it were?'
'It's difficult to say,' replies Death. 'I remember that there was a monkey - he was throwing bananas at me and laughing.'
'So, the Hindus were right,' says Cheese.
'Who can say,' replies Death. 'It was a very long time ago.'
Despite the best efforts of the cleric, the Wurstburpian attack falters. (Below) 'No! No! No!' shouts Bragge furiously, as well as using some other words that would not require any expertise in Fenwickian double entendre to interpret. In between casting aspersions on the legitimacy of his own troops, and making other comments highly suggestive of his view that the Vulgarian guards were the sort of fellows who misused goats in inventive ways known only to the very loneliest of herders, the earl makes frenetic, but ultimately abortive, attempts to prevent his troops from falling back.
In the margravial headquarters, general Unproununski gapes. 'God's toenails!' he blasphemes.
'Quite so!' agrees Prince Karl. 'We are defeated!'
'Those poor goats,' says the general sadly.
Bragge's troops fall back.
Despite his success, however, Rentall is far from calm. (Above, at the top) The entire remaining Vulgarian infantry, all four regiments, are now crammed awkwardly into a tiny space. In consequence only two are actually facing the enemy. The Grand Prior's Regiment, having moved up to right and rear of the footguards are in a position to do nothing other than launch a bayonet charge on their fellow Vulgarians in Barlow's Regiment, in grey (though it would no doubt be a successful one given their beautiful position for a flank attack). Barlow's men, of course, now cannot move forwards or backwards because they are wedged in tighter than a hippo in a pair of giraffe size-medium britches.
'We must attack at once! We must make both the time and the space to re-order our lines!' Rentall says excitedly to Neucheim. 'Now is our opportunity! The enemy columns are in disorder! Sound the charge!'