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?'


  1. Zeigler's reputation for military daring and dastardly acts grows apace!

  2. Indeed, though as an Unreliable, Cold-Blooded Backstabber, the attributes that Zeigler has thus far developed through his adventures don't necessarily make for a man that one would want to spend a long coach journey with.