Friday, 30 October 2015


Colonel Zeigler and his intrepid force of troops approach the capital in the bright sun of the early morning. The Colonel is not pleased: his plan to attack at dawn has foundered on the inability of his scouts to agree on the relative importance on the Gross Schnitzelring clock tower of the big hand and the little hand. Still, with the sun up, it gives everyone, including any Gelderland guards, the opportunity to admire the uniforms, of a stylish jager fashion, acquired by Zeigler en route. Right about now, a unit of Gelderland jager some ten miles to the west will be waking up in an inn to find that their uniforms seem now to include rather more in the way of petticoats than is normal and also are substantially roomier around the chest. The Colonel has managed to acquire, not just a marvelous new uniform, but also a rakish eye-patch.
'It looks a bit nautical, sir,' says his Sergeant. 'A bit, you know, pirate-ish.'
'Really?' says the Colonel, warming to his new accoutrement. 'Well, then, I shall wear it - I like the buccaneer look.'
'I think it's a mistake, sir,' says the sergeant, 'begging your pardon.'
'A mistake, eh?' says Zeigler. 'Well, you know what they say, sergeant: to err is human, but to 'aaarh!' is pirate.'

In addition to the uniforms, Zeigler has managed to impose a semblance of discipline on his force, as the plethora of black eyes can testify. All told, the Colonel's force looks rather more military, and certainly much more imposing, than it did when it commenced its journey. The Colonel has also received welcome reinforcements: two companies of musketeers, and  two squadrons of dismounted cavalry.
Zeigler eyes the cavalry suspiciously: 'Where are their horses, sergeant?'
'They ate them, sir.'
'Zounds! Is our supply situation so perilous?'
'No sir, they, um, just ate them.'

Zeigler divides up his force. The Jager and one company of musketeers heads for the walls, in search of the secret postern gate revealed in Miss Nora Hindquarters' intelligence. The Colonel, though, is also keen to destroy the bridge leading to Gross Schnitzelring, in order to make it impossible to wheel Wilhelm back over the stream should any of the Gelderlanders have the strength to unwedge King Wilhelm and the mind to 'unfind' him. Zeigler details the cavalry, the other company of musketeers, and a large barrel of gunpowder for this task, all under the command of Captain Stefan von Kobblers. As Kobblers' force heads off to the south, Zeigler turns his attention to the question of the postern gate. The small door itself isn't difficult to find, but the Colonel is worried - password protected defences: whatever might that mean?

With some trepidation Zeigler approaches the small portal. The door seems very, very robust. The men look on expectantly, and Zeigler suddenly realises that he has no idea at all how it is that he is going to get through. The moments pass. It all starts to get very, very embarrassing. Suddenly, a small sentry door at head height whips open, revealing the grim visage of a thickly mustachioed guard of the garrison regiment.
'Halt - what's the password!', the Gelderland sentry barks.
Zeigler shrugs despondently, nonplussed - 'Dammit, how should I know?'
'Well, then,' says the guard. 'You can't come in.'
'But,' says Zeigler, 'we really need to come in. I'd enter through the main gate, but I'd be embarrassed to be seen marching in public with this lot.'
The guard looks at the gaggle of jager behind Zeigler. 'Fair enough,' he says. 'But I still can't let you in. You might be a Trojan.'
'I'm not a Trojan,' says Zeigler, 'I'm German.'
'It's a classical allusion, sir' says the sergeant. 'Secret infiltrator, like the Trojan horse of the Iliad.'
'I haven't got a horse either,' says Zeigler.
The sentry pauses. 'Well, in that case, I need your security question.'
'Eh' says Zeigler. 'What's the security question?'
'Well,' says the sentinel, 'I ask you what your mother's maiden name is, and then, if you get it right, I can give you a copy of the password.'
Zeigler looks nonplussed, and then shrugs.
'Er, okay.'
'So, Herr Colonel, 'what's your mother's maiden name?'
'Ur, well, it's Hofstedter.'
The sentry nods. 'Is that right?'
'Um. Yes?' Zeigler says hopefully.
'Promise?' says the guard.
'Um. Yes?' says Zeigler.
'Marvelous' says the sentry, passing Zeigler a small envelope. 'The password is written on that. Or, if you like, you could re-set it by choosing another.'
'You know,' says Zeigler to the guard, as he opens the door, 'wouldn't a sturdy padlock be more secure? Isn't all this talk talk rather ... insecure?'
'Oh no, no, no,' says the guard. 'This is the future, believe me. Safe as houses. Although my predecessor was hacked.'
'Yes - cavalry sabre: his head came right off.'
Zeigler's force heads into a dark corridor leading through the fortress walls.
The Colonel turns to the sentry. 'There's just one more thing.'
'What's that?' says the sentry.
'This,' says Zeigler. There is a hollow 'bonk' sound as the last jager hits the sentry over the head with his horn.
'I'll bet that hurt', says the Colonel to the jager. 'Next time use your instrument.'


  1. A fine, amusing and topical report, sir! Your powers of description and satire wax large rather like King Wilhelm's girth!

    1. Not that large - and you wouldn't want to get wax anywhere near Wilhelm's girth.

  2. Your engravings of Zeigler's brave and bold scheme also capture the drama of the attempt!

  3. Though the real stars of the incident are the defensive structures that girdle Gross Schnitzelring itself. I heard tell that they were constructed from scratch with naught but foam board and glue. Surely a miracle of military engineering.