Sunday, 10 June 2018

Wallenover, the Fourth!

In the Margravial headquarters, there is now a certain amount of excitement.
'That's it! That's it!' cries General Unpronunski, looking through his telescope at the unfolding events. (Below, to the left). Three regiments of Wursburpian foot, formed into mass and crying 'a la bayonette' hurl themselves into a single unit of Vulgarian troops in a pile-on so massive that its like hasn't been seen since King Wilhelm of Gelderland last tried under his own steam to climb onto a chaise-longue. To the Vulgarian rear, a unit is wheeled left, and begins to march smartly towards the exposed flank of the Margravial formation to meet the threat posed by the Vulgarians of Count Orlok's Regiment.


(Below) Outnumbered three to one, the Vulgarian troops' chances of victory are smaller than the Russian commitment to the rule of law. Though the Vulgarian musketeers are supported by a battery of artillery positioned behind gabions, their opponents are too numerous, too well drilled in the art of the bayonet charge, and they are, besides, led by a fine officer in the form of Jonathan, the Earl of Bragge. There is the briefest of melees and then, for the Vulgarian troops, it's not just curtains, but a whole matching ensemble of soft furnishings. With cries of 'Flee!', 'Save yourselves!', and 'I never touched your ox!' those Vulgarian musketeers that aren't dead, quit the field in rout.


Through the savage fighting in this part of the line, two figures go strangely unnoticed. 
'So,' says Death carefully. 'I think that it's important for me to reiterate that we only take the souls of those who are actually dead.' He looks at Cheese, who stands amidst a pile of Vulgarian corpses. Cheese leans heavily on his scythe, panting.
'We don't,' Death continues, 'take them because they are, to quote you earlier "a lard-arse who's soon going to croak anyway." Nor do we take people because "they have amusingly shaped heads," "annoying croaky voices," or because,' he looks hard at Cheese, 'they are conveniently closer than the fellow that we are supposed to take.'
'I think I'm improving though,' wheezes Cheese cheerily. 'I took out that last fellow with a swing that I might go so far as to characterise as "graceful"'.
'Graceful - yes; accurate - less so. You missed his heart,' says Death. 'You've got to get them in the heart or you don't catch the soul.'
'Didn't I get him in the heart?' asks Cheese.
'No,' replies Death. 'You caught his nose. What you've done is to send his nose into the Other Place.  The rest of him is still here.' Death points to a nearby Vulgarian musketeer crawling over the corpses of his comrades.
'I can see the light!' says the musketeer in wonder, one finger stuck up his nostril. 'I can see the light! Can anyone else see the light!' The soldier pauses. 'It's a lot smaller than I imagined. Less bright. And it seems to have some kind of warning ...'
'I'll finish him,' says Cheese, hefting his scythe. 'Don't worry.'
'Should I go to the light?' the musketeer says out loud. 'or should I be moving away from it? Is the light a bad thing?'
'Only the dead,' says Death admonishingly to Cheese. 'And also, we don't take squirrels either.'

The seesaw that it the battle of Wallenover continues to tip in the favour of Wurstburp, dumping the Vulgarians unceremoniously from their seats and then catching them painfully upon the chin as they try to get up. (Below) To the right of Wurstburp bayonet attack, Unpronunski has another success. Now, only a single regiment of Vulgarian mounted irregulars remains - the other, finally, is despatched by Wurstburpian musketry (though it turns out, however, that everyone in the Voidvodate's army hated them, so there is no real effect on morale). 


(Above, top) With the Vulgarian flank sagging as badly as King Augustus the Fat of Saxony's britches after a heavy night on the cake, the Earl of Bragge moves to exploit the situation. He orders one of his regiments forwards into the swamp, putting the unit in an excellent position to swing left and reinforce the Wurstburp push to roll up the Vulgarian defence. One consequence of this, however, is that the Wurstburpian line is now split into three parts - the unit that is in the marsh, and then two equal groups of four units on either side. But this couldn't possibly be relevant for the future, could it?


In some recompense, however, Orlok's Regiment continues to do sterling work for Rentall's cause. (Above, top) Behind one of his batteries, the Vulgarian notable Cameron von Muller looks on as Count Orlok's Regiment pours more fire into the exposed flank of a Wurstburpian column.

(Below, top left) Regiment Orlok's volley scythes down the Margravial troops and the latter are broken. But Rentall's position remains precarious. (Below, top right) In the vicinity of a dangling pink appendage that we must hope, dear reader, is a finger, the Vulgarian infantry struggle to reorientate to meet the threatened Wurstburp flanking movement. With the Voivodate's troops now separated into two groups, general Rentall now faces a difficult choice: should he wheel backwards the grey-coated troops of his centre unit so that they face the enemy columns of attack; or should he bring up his reserve units, currently deployed in march column; or should he quit the military profession and become, as his mother had hoped, a modestly successful producer of artisan teacups?


'Itsh a difficult choish,' says Rentall, ignoring the sturm und drang around him. 'Duke Neucheim, shir: let me have your advishe.'
Neucheim's brows furrow beneath his tricorne. 'I think that we should consult Baron Tostov.'
'But,' says Rentall, 'I shushpect dat I know what da good duke ish going to shay ...'.
'Gottle a geer!' says baron Tostov.
'The baron's views, I think are coloured by his relative military inexperience,' explains Neucheim.
'Yesh,' says Rentall. 'And also da fact dat he ish made of wood.'
'Dammit, sir,' cries Neucheim. 'You cannot insult the baron so! Though he is made of wood, does he not feel hurt like any real officer?'
'No,' Rentall says. 'He doeshn't. Alsho, your lipsh move, my good duke, when da baron speaks.'
'I thought, general, that we had agreed not to ...'
'And in adishion, he hash wheelsh.'
Neucheim falls into sullen silence.
'Shtill,' says the general, resolutely. 'Dish dishcushion hash been very valuable. I have deshided what it ish dat I think will be our most advantageous coursh  of action ...'

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