Sunday, 31 January 2016


And so, events in Gross Schnitzelring begin to reach their shuddering climax.

With Wilhelm deposited in the capital, but the bridge intact, the chances of a victory depend upon which of the commanders can attain their personal objectives. Colonel Zeigler has cuffed and stuffed half of the Gelderland civilians: this has given him great satisfaction. Sadly, however, Captain Kobblerz has managed to acquire nothing more than a painful increase in his lead content. He certainly has had better days. Worse for the Nabstrians, Colonel Toplitz-Hande's personal objective was to despatch Kobblerz. The only chance for Nabstria to avoid a minor defeat is to deny Colonel Rheinfunkt his own individual goal ...

The garrison company, led by Rheinfunkt, finally reach the town square, breathless, only to find it deserted. Far ahead, the last of Colonel Zeigler's Nabstrian interlopers can just be seen exiting the capital. Rheinfunkt swears grandly: a quick look in Frau Stollen's bakery indicates that the enemy's mission has been all too successful - Wilhelm is there, also 'deserted' in the sense that he is covered with all kinds of final course confections. Now, even if it were possible humanly to lift him, he is as slippery as a larded Sicilian. From beneath the King emanates a terrible groaning sound that could perhaps herald the unhappy arrival of a large quantity of digestive gasses, but which actually sounds like the increasingly feeble struggles of a middle-aged patissier trying to climb out of the royal posterior. Rheinfunkt grips his wig and shakes his head sadly, cursing Nabstria. As a seasoned soldier, he has witnessed his share of war crimes; maimings, torture, English food: but there can be few acts of savagery worse than shoving a prisoner right up Wilhelm's ring-piece,
'Dammit!', cries Rheinfunkt. 'I shall capture a Nabstrian prisoner, and I shall repay ten-fold this act of Nabstrian bottom-related barbarity!'
Ironically, given this motive, the Colonel hear's the sound of more half-arsed combat emanating from beyond the capital's walls - there is still some fighting to be done!
Collecting the garrison company around him, Rheinfunkt heads for the city gates.

The last of the Nabstrian forces still making a fight of it are the remains of Kobblerz's regulars, holed up in a house just outside the walls of the city. The regulars have redoubled their efforts to fortify the house by closing the curtains, hiding behind the furniture, and making loud 'Shhh!' sounds. A quick peek by one of them out of the window, however, demonstrates that their fortunes are likely to decline rapidly in the immediate future: Toplitz-Hande's company of regulars have taken up position outside; his Croats are now running back to cut off the line of retreat; and elements of the Gross Schnitzelring garrison are now issuing forth from the capital. There's only one thing for it - run!

(Above) Using a special Nabstrian version of the tactics of 'fire and movement', by which the 'fire' element is replaced with womanly screaming and even more movement, the white-coated regulars flee the house! In front, the Croats race to cut them off; behind can be seen Toplitz-Hande's red-coated regulars and the blue uniforms of the garrison company. Can the Nabstrians sprint the short distance to safety? Or will some last minute crapness lead them to a slightly humiliating failure?

Saturday, 23 January 2016

That way to the gunpowder!

In parallel to the events proceeding inside of the capital's walls, an array of frolicsome antics are under way outside as well. Captain Stefan von Kobblerz's force is tasked with destroying the bridge that links Gross Schnitzelring to the outside world. It is a task that many have dreamed of undertaking.

(Above, the very top) In the distance, the white uniforms of Kobblerz's regular company can be barely discerned. The captain has led this force forwards to screen the rest of his troops. Some of his regulars occupy a small wood, whilst the rest have positioned themselves in a prosperous looking house in the wood's immediate vicinity. In response to orders to fortify the house against attack, the troops have rifled through the drawers and cupboards, stolen all of the spoons, made themselves some elevenses and deliberately left the washing up. (Above, bottom) The sedan chair heads towards the bridge. Immediately behind are the two squadrons of dismounted cavalry.

Nearby, two cloaked forms watch the proceedings with mild interest. One is tall and carries both a scythe and an air of disappointment. The other is small, corpulent, and gives off the menacing ambiance of a hungry cannibal midget at dinner time. It is, of course, Death and Famine, who have halted their journey on the way to the battle at Heisenleman for a bit of a break. Death is exhausted, dead tired even, and is hoping secretly that the coming battle features a large role for both artillery and cavalry so that he can catch up on his sleep. Of course, technically Death doesn't need to sleep, but he has found that it provides a useful way of avoiding having to talk to Famine or his bone headed chums War and Pestilence. An evening with the three of them Death has concluded, is about as entertaining as French-kissing a halibut.
Famine says 'I'm hungry.'
'That's the point', replies Death, wearily.
'What?' says his lardy companion.
'Your supposed to be hungry', says Death. 'I mean, what's the point of having a Famine who's not hungry? What's the point in having War, Pestilence and No Thanks I'm Full. You're supposed to terrify man-kind by visiting fearful events upon them. Otherwise, why have War, Pestilence and Famine? Why not Celery, Lard, and Zumba'.
'What's zumba?'
Death shrugs, which creates a dry clicking sound. 'I'm not really sure - a kind of undead rumba I expect'.
Nearby, muskets begin to go off.
Famine brightens up. 'I've invited War and Pestilence to that gig in Dresden', he says cheerily.
'Really?' says Death, his voice expressing the down-turned mouth that his actual mouth can't perform. Then, with a particularly fruity expletive, he begins to stomp off moodily.
Famine jogs after him. 'Hey, where are you going?'
'To find a bloody halibut', says his comrade, disappearing in a puff of smoke.

The muskets are being fired by the Nabstrians. Kobblerz's musketeers are quickly in action. Sweeping onto the field of battle come the two companies of Toplitz-Hande's relief column. The Croats exchange some desultory volleys with the Nabstrian musketeers before the Colonel orders them to push forwards at any costs. (Above, top) The Croats flank the Nabstrian musketeers, threatening to break out of the woods. Blocking their route however, they find a solitary officer in the uniform of a captain in the Nabstrian army. With his two squadrons of dismounted cavalry some way to the rear, Kobblerz finds himself suddenly in the front-line. The Croats halt  confused: this must be some kind of trick - one man against a company? They look around nervously like meerkats at a firework party, expecting at any moment that a terrible surprise will pop up and scare the nipples off them.

Staring down the company of Croats, Captain Kobblerz looks surprisingly relaxed. Sergeant Steiner sprints quickly to his side.
'Sir, we must run for the safety of the house'.
'No, Sergeant', says Kobblerz patently. 'We're quite safe'.
'But we're going to die, sir: and my wife needs me, sir - who'll polish her when I'm gone?'
'Au contraire, sergeant', says Kobblerz, risking some experimental French. 'We cannot be targeted by enemy fire separately when we are so close to our own troops. So we are quite safe, sergeant: certainly safe enough to do this', he sticks his tongue out at the Croats, 'or even this' he says, gesticulating in an Italian manner that both dishonours the Croats' mothers, sisters, and wives and also implies, generally, that they might actually be the same person.
'But...' says Steiner.
'In fact', says Kobblerz, interrupting, 'I've never liked Croats. This should really rile those bulbous Balkan boar bonkers. To Steiners amazement and concern, the Captain begins to gyrate rythmically, and then he begins to sing ...

The Croats look on, stunned. In front of them, the mad Nabstrian captain cavorts in some kind of lewd mime and dance. He sweeps his hand vigorously down as if paddling the backside of an invisible buxom tavern wench, whilst singing ' butts and I cannot lie, those other brothers can't deny ....'
The Croats look at one another. Is this a trap? The fellow is clearly unhinged. They look around nervously.
'He likes big butts?' asks one, tremulously.
'Yes', says another, 'but I for one fail to see their attraction: I mean, what's so special about a large water barrel?'
'Oooh, tasty', says another, running his hands over the cabinet that he's brought with him.

'But ...' says Steiner.
'Don't interrupt!', shouts Kobblerz, before continuing his song, 'When a girl walks in with an itty, bitty waist, and a round thing in your face!'
'But ...' says Steiner.

'I think this is a most unsuitable song for a battle', says one Croat to the others, leveling his musket.
'I agree', says another. 'And this song can't promote a healthy body image for women'.
'Quite so. I should think that this sort of thing shouldn't be allowed'.
'Yes', says another, 'down with this sort of thing'.
Some of the Croats fire a volley at point blank range at the nearest Nabstrians. (Below, top) At that range even a pacifist with a blindfold couldn't miss. Obviously, then, some of the Croats do miss, but enough hit to cut down the Nabstrian regulars that aren't safely ensconced in the house.

'But...' says Steiner.
'Don't interrupt!', shouts Kobblerz, before continuing, 'You...get ...sprung!'
'Sorry, sir - but I'm off!' says Steiner sprinting rearwards.
'Stop!' shouts the Captain. 'They can't hit me - as long as I'm close to my troops they can't target me separately - so as long as I stay close to those troops over there I ... oh', he says espying the white uniformed Nabstrian corpses lying in the wood.
More Croat muskets are leveled - Kobblerz looks around desperately, taking in his sudden isolation. A small rabbit catches his eye. There is a moment of silence. The rabbit looks at the Croats and then back at the captain. Then the little fellow shrugs, and his little paw moves up and down in a sad goodbye to Captain Stefan von Kobblerz. (Above, bottom) With a final sad imaginary slap to the posterior of his phantom tavern wench, Kobblerz shouts out plaintively 'But I've got so much more to give!' before a thunderous volley from the Croats strikes him to the ground.

(Above) Perhaps because of the death of their officer, or perhaps just because they have seen his dance, the Nabstrian dragoons are unmanned. Their morale fails without them even having fired a shot and they quit field. (Above, right) In the house by the bridge, the dismounted Nabstrian Hussars have climbed through the window, bringing them into close range of some Croats who have also made enterprising use of the windows to gain entry to the building. Unfortunately for Nabstria, the ensuing fight is for the Hussars not so much a combat as a badly handled trolley dash. One of their number falls to the ground, possibly shot, or possibly just begging for his life, and the morale of the remainder also breaks. They, too, quit the field.

(Above) Pursued by some angry Croats, the sedan chair runners decide that it might be better to take another fare. Though their passenger seems literally to be fizzing with anger, they run off taking with them any chance of blowing up the bridge but carrying with them the guarantee of a nasty surprise for the next occupant.
'Huzzah!' shouts Toplitz-Hande.
'They've run off', says his sergeant.
Though the Colonel is tempted to do a tasteful victory dance, in truth the fight is still in the balance. With Wilhelm safely delivered, but the bridge still intact, the outcome of this affray depends now upon whether the Nabstrian regulars that still occupy the building near the wood can escape safely. This should, surely, be a matter of a simple vigorous rout from the field of combat, an activity that all Nabstrian regulars are of course well acquainted with by now. 

But you never can tell ...

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

This way to the buns!

Colonel von Zeigler's intrepid force moves swiftly into the environs of Gross Schnitzelring. His company of jager push on as swiftly as they can, which isn't perhaps as fast as the good Colonel would like. One obvious impediment is that they are accompanied by a heavily reinforced wheelbarrow, the contents of which is either a beached and partially rotted humpback whale or King Wilhelm - the coat, breeches, and crown say the latter, the stench and general blubberiness suggest the former. The other challenge is the state of the capital's streets. Attempts to improve conditions suffered in 1710 when the missive to the architect to do such things as would 'encourage the great increase in affluence in this place' confused the word 'affluence' with the word 'effluence'. This succeeded in making the streets of the capital unpleasantly sticky, and also in introducing a quite staggering array of new and unpleasant smells for the unwary visitor to discover. Suffice it say that, in Gross Schnitzelring, when nature calls even the dogs prefer to stand.

Zeigler quickly spots his target: a three-story bakery (below, right, with the wagon outside). Once inside this palace of pastries, Gelderland's porcine potentate will surely be immovable. With a shout, the jager move forwards, the wheelbarrow squeeking as alarmingly as a mouse with tourettes. The source of Wilhelm's motive power is a Private Klemp: three other men have already had to give up, partly through exhaustion, and partly because of Wilhelm's noxious evacuations. Klemp though has the advantage that his nose was severed in a freak accident involving a pint of absinthe, some Christmas nutcrackers, and a very unwise bet. To support them, a company of Nabstrian regulars is brought up to occupy nearby buildings and provide covering fire.

Meanwhile, Captain von Lackwitz's garrison company muster at the eastern bastion. The captain, however, is nowhere to be seen. In the interim, command is claimed by a tall fellow, wearing a very bulky wig. 'To me, men!' shouts the fellow. 'I, Colonel Ernst Leopold von Rheinfunkt, will take command at this desperate juncture'.
The garrison company mill around in confusion, wondering what a 'juncture' is. Meanwhile, some terrified civilians stream past crying that the enemy are here and that they have brought with them some kind of gigantic wheeled sea-creature.
One of the soldiers pipes up. 'Sir, don't I remember you from the battle at the Wobbling Dog Inn?'
'Yes', says the Colonel, 'I was wounded'.
'Wounded?' replies the musketeer with a measure of awe, 'I distinctly remember that you had most of your head shot off - I think I found an eyebrow in my pocket'.
The Colonel shrugs. 'I got better'.
'But yours ears fell off', says the soldier.
Rheinfunkt nods, though very gingerly: 'They can do great things with wigs these days'.

The Colonel leads the garrison company to confront the Nabstrian assailants. (Above, middle) But, perhaps afraid of the complexities associated with operating door handles, the Gelderlanders eschew taking the short route through the buildings in front of them and opt instead to take the the longest possible route around them. Reminiscent of the standard plumbing arrangement in the capital, a long thin stream of them splash out onto the street and they then begin the long jog around the buildings.

Left behind in the general panic, two groups of Gelderland civilians are also caught up in the fray. One group takes refuge in the church (below, bottom, the church building has been replaced with a floor plan). After all, surely no respectable Nabstrian would ever compromise the sanctity of a church by breaking down the door, whilst making huff, puff and three little pigs noises, before then beating the occupying civilians senseless and then stealing their money, valuables, and a fetching pair of purple pantaloons. Such a thing would surely be unheard of.

(Above, middle) The other group decide that in such moments of crisis what is clearly called for is a sprint up the ramps to the western bastion. This makes some sense - from there one could run along the battlements to safety. Only a buffoon would do otherwise. Only an inflatable buffoon would run up the ramp with the purpose in a crisis of running back down again and then running back up. Such a thing would surely be another such a thing that would surely be unheard of.

(Below, top) Behind the buildings, the garrison company continues their long-distance advance towards the enemy. By rights they should be supported by a company of Gelderland jager but, despite much cursing from Rheinfunkt, the light troops have yet to turn up. (Below, bottom). The Nabstrian regulars enter some of the houses and prepare to provide covering fire.

The Nabstrian jager advance on the bakery. This building was once Herr Frudel's House of Strudel. It is now Frau Stollen's 'Chateaux Gateaux' ('You've Never Had Your Mouth Round Bigger Buns Than Mine'). Wheeling Wilhelm forwards, the jager advance with all the celerity of a weary, one legged sloth on the way to visit some particularly unlikable relatives. As Wilhelm is wheeled finally to the threshold of the door, it is thrown suddenly open revealing a small women of indeterminate age wielding an eclair in a menacing fashion. Before the poor woman even has a chance to say in surprise 'Gah! A giant wheeled hump-backed walrus - please don't tip him on to me!' Private Klemp with a gargantuan effort tips the barrow forwards. There is a crash, the muffled voice of a woman saying 'You've got to be joking', and then the sounds of a thousand shattering frangipans as Wilhelm falls into the shop. The jager shut the door quickly - mission accomplished!

(Above, middle) Looking for more opportunities for fun, the jager espy the civilians in the church. Showing the same respect for Christian religious strictures and cultural constraints as a particularly tetchy Mongol Horde they break down the door and pile in. The civilians are whacked, slapped, frisked, and trussed and, before one can say 'sounds like a great night out in Nabstria', the tussle is soon over.

(Above) Like the short-sighted bishop who finds that that the nun he's been having fun with is actually a penguin, the Nabstrians' main concern now is a quick withdrawal. The jager sprint rapidly back towards the exit, not encumbered now by Wilhelm or his wheelbarrow. As they retire, they pass the other group of Gelderland civilians who are still on the ramp to the western bastion. They are still deep in conversation.
'Well, we've gone up the ramp and we've come back down again - what should we do now?', says one.
'Up the ramp again would seem appropriate'.
'Yes, that would certainly seem to be a determined riposte in the face of a vigorous enemy infantry attack upon the capital'.
'Quite so - last one up the ramp is a sissy'.
Luckily for them, despite being as inconspicuous on the ramp as a Pope at Martin Luther's birthday party, the Nabstrians seem not to notice them and they escape unharmed.

Zeigler counts his troops back through the wall. Peering back into the capital he asks his sergeant 'Wasn't that bakers we stopped at Herr Frudels?'
The sergeant nods. 'They're under new management, I think'.
'Oh', says Zeigler. 'Where's the new management?'
The sergeant shrugs. 'They're under King Wilhelm, I think.'

As Nabstrians withdraw, Frau Stollen's bakery is left silent except for the giggling from Wilhelm as he lies supine upon the floor in the detritus of desserts, and the swishing sound as he makes custard angels on the messy floor. From underneath, a strained voice pipes up plaintively - 'Anyone? Help?'