Friday, August 24, 2007

Eddies and Rapids in Formal Costume

Eddies and Rapids in Formal Costume

Scene 1: the Gallian Flood

The original schedule for Sunday’s fete had been as follows:

Noon: Inspections of Infant, Mother, and Hurtshog by Court Physicians
2 PM: Processional March to Cathedral
3 PM: High Mass, Blessing of Banners,
4 PM: Recessional March to Palace
5 PM: Another grand feast ... which must include many, many ceremonial toasts ....

Now, these events will occur as scheduled, but obviously much, much more is going to happen this Sunday!

After the uprising of the Frankfurter Constables, who attempted to storm the new Bastille, and the assassination of the strange Englishman at the Masquerade, the town is in turmoil in the morning. All that is known is that the town council and constables, whose Protestant and Germanian sympathies are well known, reacted violently to Bastille’s attempt to seize and to imprison their leaders under a Gallian style “carte blanche”. In the morning, every burgomeister and constable still alive (and not attending the Masquerade the previous night) is either in prison or in flight through the sodden country side.

Even as the crowds start to gather in spite of the efforts by the dragoons to keep them dispersed, a loud drumming fills the air! A huge force of Gallian troops pours through the city gates and, led by picked troops of loyal Frankszonians, quickly clears the streets and occupies key points and the great bridge. The few civilians who are brave or foolhardy enough to try to talk with these troops find that not only are these forces not defeated (as rumors still insist happened), but have struck and scattered the infiltrated corps of Hamburgers in Russell Wald!

Sunday’s schedule will enjoy much smaller civilian celebration. The crowds are replaced by long lines of alert Gallian bayonets!

Scene 2: Rocks in the River

Earlier in the morning, the tired and harried General Bastille received l’Comte Beauphaup and * Herr Eberhard Kunegunde: Master of the Frankszonian Secret Police. While Kunegunde looked more worn and tattered than Bastille, Beauphaup was his normal, impeccably attired and pomandered self (to keep things simple and short, it’s been a bad night after all, I’m going to keep to bald narrative today). After assuring the Intendant that the Hurtshog understands Bastille’s motives for his actions and sympathizes, the nature of the events force him to take a public stand which is less friendly than his personal feelings.

They deliver a stiff note of protest from the Frankszonian Court concerning the Gallian security sweep. Not only does the Hurtshog view this as a serious violation of Frankszonian autonomy, but also, Beauphaup tells Bastille, the swift removal of the ladies removed the only sure way of investigating the murder at the Masquerade. It is obvious that the Lady Pettygree could have, at least, identified the victim and given them an idea as to his purposes. Kunegunde also reminds the Intendant, that as a personal confidant of the Hurtshog, his forces could have been utilized more safely and without arousing the latent pro-Germanian attitude of the merchants and craftsmen. Furthermore, the Gallian preemptive action within the city has meant that the real resistance leaders in the countryside and many of their forces are now either fled or in strongholds, whose reduction may not be worth the effort they would require.

Furthermore, Fettucine, the Italian dancing master whom the victim apparently knew, has taken refuge with Count Saucie, the Ambassador from Bologna. General Woad, on whose Black Skirts suspicion has inevitably fallen, has mustered his regiment and barricaded himself in an Estate beyond the walls. The Hurtshog understands that Broderick Woad had been at the Masquerade, but had rushed to his troops even as the victim was dying in the hall. Woad himself, is not Scots, but clearly knows something. However, the Jacobite emigre and his officers insist that they will only cooperate if “a certified representative of the Gallian Monarch” is present and participates in any investigation.

Beauphaup also personally advises General Bastille that he should order Rosenschnauz and Hottatrot to rejoin their troops post haste. While the quality and loyalty of both men and their troops is proven, Beauphaup feels that they would be better employed in the field. Unfortunately, since they are also old friends of the Hurtshog, Fahrtz has balked at making them resume their duties away from court, using their wounds as an excuse to keep their company. Both men, however, had shown vigor and quickness at the masquerade in their own ways, however, and Beauphaup believes that with the Gallian forces currently in Frankfurter, their presence is really unnecessary.

Kunegunde also requests that the Gallian troops continue their rigid security in the streets until their own constabulary can be rebuilt. Both men assure Bastille that Gallian participation in the day’s schedule of formal events is desired, but if Bastille wishes to remain away personally, this supposed rift might lure other disaffected elements into revealing themselves.

As the visitors leave, Bastille ponders their messages. He also holds a note from Phillipe: “The rebel Rosemary was at the masquerade and was at Beauphaup’s house this morning.” Given the count’s, ah, proclivities, a romantic attachment seems unlikely. Bastille wonders what plot the slimy intriguer is generating now.

Scene 3: Into the Maelstrom

As the Ladies Pettygree and Masquerade canter through the early morning mists with their martial escort, wagons are suddenly pushed into the road to block it! Phaulies Fusiliers form up behind the wagons, bayonets levelled, while Hussars dash from concealment to surround the troop!

Even as Lt. Gardier’s troopers lower their lances to break out of the trap, General Phaulie gallops up shouting at his troops to hold their fire! He dashes up to the Gallians with apologies on his lips when he is startled to see the ladies. “My Ladies!” he says, “what madness is this? We’ve been skirmishing with Hamburger and rebel remnants along the highway all night! You all are riding right through a battle!”

“It’s not the first time for them,” Lt. Gardier retorts. Then at Phaulie’s insistence, gives him a brief account of the night’s events.

Gen. Phaulie then requests a private word with Lady Pettygree. When he is assured that the lovely woman has the Hurtshog’s private communications for Charade, he declares that the safety of the ladies is more important than rounding up fugitives. He, himself, takes two squadrons of Hussars to act as outriders for the Gallians and escorts them at speed to the bridge at Nidda, parting from them at sunrise. Even so, as they ride rapidly through the muddy lanes, the Gallians note the signs of recent troubles, a few burning barns, cottages with their windows shot out and doors smashed, an inn heavily damaged by cannon balls, an unfortunate herd of cows mistaken for cavalry in the darkness, and similar scenes meet them ... though parties of peasants under control of soldiers are already working to gather the few human bodies from the places where darkness had hid them.

Gen. Phaulie tells the ladies that religious tensions in the area are contributing to the troubles. The Anglericans tend to be more receptive of Protestant alliances than the Later in the Day crowd, he assures them ... and they have the adherence of many tradesmen and country nobles, while the peasants and the Court tend to be much more in favor of the Catholic powers.

“There’ll be a drinking dirge tonight,” he tells them sadly, and explains that it is a formal toasting which must be done with inferior libations as a penance.

August 24, 2007 (12:18pm)

1 comment:

Bluebear Jeff said...

I commented on this post on the "Emperor vs Elector" group blog.

Simply put, while I think that wars of religion were a feature of the previous century, you are assuredly correct in assuming that religion still plays a major role.

-- Jeff