Saturday, April 11, 2009

A hellish night in Morea

The last of the revelers had embraced sweet Morpheus. The party had ended several hours ago. Theofilia had kissed good-bye young Basil who left an hour after the party. She had spent some time going over expenses with Anne and Sotiriadis. She then had retired to her bedchambers. Her servants ease her to her nightclothes, while Ahmed the Bektashi sung her a soothing hymn. The day had been long, and the party had not helped. Oh it was a success, but rumors from the absence of the Reich Duke were prelevent. Also Radu had not returned yet. Anafli was searching the city for him. Uh well, not much to do and she shooed everyone out of her bed-chamber. She dimmed the lights and waited for thirty minutes. A light knock and the door opened. The ambassador of Hetzenberg entered in his own nightclothes.

“Come my dear ambassador”, said Theofilia in a sweet voice. “Come and enchant me with your stories and soothing touch”. The ambassador joined her in bed. And the sweetness of lovemaking flooded Theofilia’s thoughts.

Basil and his entourage had been riding for two hours, when he stopped at an inn. He then made known his intention to first ride to the last place the Reich-Duke was and to seek to make amends. Some of his entourage objected. But Basil was not budging and ultimately a king. Most of the entourage would ride towards Kyllini and inform the ship to meet him in Dyrrachio. Basil, and some companion would ride to find the Reich Duke.

Carlo was asleep, filled with happy thoughts from the festivities of the day. It had been a great party. He had been enchanted. He still did not understand why he was here. But his companions had seemed more knowledgeable and scary. Carlo had grown on Venice’s darker and less glittering side. He knew killers and thugs when he saw them, and many of his companions were this. But the dancing, and entertainment had banished such worrisome thoughts. Until a rough hand woke him. “It’s time”

Mystra was asleep. But not all of it’s quests. First one by one, with careful speed through the towns winding streets, then more, they assembled at the predetermined place. They were thirty of them. All chosen men, brave but with dark hearts. Ten of them moved towards the city gates. Another five made it towards the granaries. The final fifteen moved towards the town barracks. The granary guards were taken out fast and sleepy. They were outnumbered and surprised, the result of the town’s garrison regiment “The Old Regiment” having joined the army at Corfu. The city gates were also taken. The few guards were betrayed and overwhelmed. The town gates were opened, and out of the country side small bands of armed men started flocking into the town. They were bandits, and amartoli, about two hundred of them. Among them were Ardit and Kitsos. The barrack guards were more alert, so the ten did not attack. Their job was different they waited. About hour since al the pawns were in place, the granary burst into flames. Bells started sounding and sleepy townsfolk awoke to the terrible sight.

A loud banging came on the door. Theofilia got up startled.

“What is going on!” she asked, as the ambassador started to stir. A voice answered form the door.

“Your Excellency, its Anne, there is a urgent matter, the granary is on fire.”

Theofilia got up and quickly put on her robe, the ambassador also got up. She bode Anne to enter.

“What happened?”

“My lady, no one knows, but about twenty minutes ago the bells of the town started sounding and one of the janissary guards rushed an told the nigh watch head, Mustafa, that a fire had erupted at the granary.”

“Has the town guard awakened?”

“We don’t know, we sent a runner, but my lady there only 50 men left in the garrison. Not enough to police the town and help control the fire. They will need reinforcements. “

Theofilia thought “Send 50 men from the palace guard. I know that will leave only 30 Janissaries inside but it’s the only think we can do. Also send a rider to get Von Grotz back.”

Anne left immediately, while Theofilia together with the ambassador and four guards, went immediately to the throne room.

The fifteen at the barracks waited, as they watched the commotion. The thirty men of the garrison filed out and then started towards the direction of the granary. Everywhere shutters were opened as sleepy towns-folk woke up. The fifteen then overpowered the few guards left in the barracks and took them over. One of them ran to find the bandit groups, while the other wore Morean uniforms.

About thirty minutes later the bandits and martoli attacked the soldiers and janissaries trying to put out the fires. The fifteen started moving towards the castle.

“Was that shots I heard?” Theofilia asked. The Ambassador of Hetzenberg concurred.

“What is going on? Sotiriadis go and check what is happening”. The clerk left with a janissary.

In the throne room were Anne, Theofilia, the ambassador of Hetzenberg and four janissary guards. Another two were outside. There was a knock at the door. One of the janissaries outside opened and exclaimed. “Despotissa some of the Venetian merchants wish to see you. They say it concerns their property.”

Theofilia winced, now is not the time. But she couldn’t refuse them. Her reputation was at stake. “Let them pass”

Carlo was tense. He knew what he had to do, but he was afraid. He now knew the awful truth. These aren’t spies, but assassins. Curse him for taking this job. But he was hungry, hunger is a cruel mistress, it lay’s down human beings to grovel. But now he had no choice. His job was clear. To play a role and no more. May Sain’t Giovanni protect him. He entered the door with five companions. The others waited outside.

The merchants came in and gave small bows.

“Well good sirs, no doubt you have heard that we are having trouble. I don’t have too much time, but I will try to help as best as I can.”

Carlo looked up. He was trembling, speech was coming hard.

“You Excellency…we….we ask…..that…that you help us in sec…securing..our wares”

Theofilia looked quizzicly, “Are you alright good sir?”

His cue was here.

Carlo fell on the floor convulsing. Everybody reacted surprised. One of the Jannisary guards moved as to check what was going on. One of Carlos companions drew a concealed blade and slammed it in the guard’s neck. A fountain of blood exploded.

Theofilia watched, stunned in a trance. The other two merchants attacked here other guards. The first went down surprised a knife in his chest. The other was quicker on his feet, and received the blade thrust in his left hand. He gave a vicious backslap lunching the Venetian backwards. He also shouted the alarm. The ambassador of Hetzenberg was drawing his sword, just as one of the two unoccupied assassins came forward with a lunge of his long knife. The final drew something out of his clothes. A pistol and he took aim. At Theofilia. Almost in slow agonizing steps, Hetzenberg forgot about the attacking assassin, and jumped to shove Theofilia out of the pistol’s range. He got a knife in the back for his efforts. But he shoved Theofilia just enough. The pistol let out a roar of fire and smoke and propelled the bullet forward. Instead of her chest, it buried itself in her harm, tearing sinew and smashing bone.

Theofilia almost fainted by the pain, but she held out. She took the force of the shot and used it to propel herself to the wall to her right. Hetzenberg was dead. So was one of the Janissary guards. The other was alive and with his sword drawn and bloody. One of the assassins lay on the floor a pool of blood, and gasps and painful prayers indicating his final days. The one who killed Hetzenberg was trying to dislodge his knife from the big German’s back. The one with the pistol looked on her with hate, and started drawing a knife. The other two were moving towards the Janissary, carefully circling him, cursing him and taunting him in Italian.

Focus on escape, she thought. She reached the wall, and fumbled for the secret button. She found it and pressed it. The secret revolving panel turned just in time to get her out of the way of the attacking assassin. He tripped surprised and fell. Theofilia looked around. A vase was next to a mirror next to the secret panel. She knocked it over and it crashed on the assassin. It wouldn’t knock him out, but at least it would daze him enough for her to leave the room. She was dizzy and was losing blood. The pain was clouding her thought. Just a little more. She half-run, half staggered to the room’s door, impervious to the other assassin coming from behind. She opened the door and collapsed there.

The assassin gave out a whoop of joy and charged forward. As he was about to exit, a heavy scimitar crushed and tore into his head. Mustafa kicked the body underneath. Allah be praised he was just in time. He ordered two of his soldiers to pick up the Princess, while he looked at the situation. The merchants had overpowered the guards outside the throne room. But he had arrived with ten men, just as they were about to enter it. He didn’t know what was going on, and he didn’t need to. His was coming to inform the Princess that the city was under attack from within. So it seemed was the palace. He felt shame and anger. Security was his responsibility and he had failed. But now was the time for action. Not for doubts. His men had surprised the enemy with a volley. The assassins might had been more, but they were no match to prepared Janissaries. They had been forced into the throne room. Just as he was about to order grenades and reinforcements to be brought, the Princess fell in front of him. Fortuitous luck. He ordered two of his men to get the princess to the Janissary barracks. The other were busy fighting the foe.

They moved fast in the palace, meeting scared servants and quests, as well as more janissaries, and hussars. Mustafa had about thirty stay with him, and send the rest to help the ones fighting at the throne room. Anne and Sotiriadis met with him at one of the intersections. They both were appalled at the sight of the princess, and Sotiriadis left to look for the doctor. Mustafa left the princess with Anne and fifteen guards, armed servants, janissaries, and hussars, while he took another fifteen to see what was going outside. As he was moving towards the courtyard he saw a troop of soldiers in the uniform of the “Old Regiment” enter. Good, reinforcements. He gestured at them, and was about to yell something, when the troop stopped and opened fire. Mustafa was lucky, a shot only grazed him on the shoulder, but it was powerful enough to knock him over. At least ten of his men lay dead or wounded. His head was dazed, what is going on, is this a coup? Focus. He got up just and ordered his remaining men to retreat into the castle. They retreated towards the barracks, followed closely by the enemy. They had no choice but to barricade inside the barracks and hope for the better.

And so it happened. The barracks were put under siege by the invaders. But they themselves were attacked by roving groups of Morean soldiers who wandered the halls. Theofilia was given surgery by the doctor while at the same time, a breath away men were fighting, and killing. This was going on for two hours, when the attackers were themselves surprised from the back by hussars and Hungarian cuirassiers. Von Grotz had returned and took the invaders from behind. Anafli had rallied Morean troops inside the city. The tide had turned, but at a terrible price.

Von Grotz, Mustafa, Anne and Anafli were looking over the parapet. The city below seemed quiet, and the flames had died out. But the scars were evident, and smoke rose from the ruins of the granary, the city barracks and part of the town. It had taken all night to drive out the invaders, and cavalry detachments were hunting them down in the countryside around. The battalion of the “Arkadon” regiment had arrived in the morning from Tripoli and had helped flush out the last of the invaders, restore order to the city and was know offering the garrison for both castle and town. Some lurkers would get smoked out now and then, and a fierce fight would erupt, but these had become rarer since last night. Anafli gave his report to the other three: “

All in all we lost around a hundred men. Sotiriadis and the Chevalier di Monferatto are wounded, the ambassador of Bizercca was killed, and so was Graf Claus von Eckehnheat, the ambassador of Cavenderia. We have killed about hundred and fifty invaders and captured about twenty. “

“Where is Radu when you need him”, exclaimed a tired Anne.

“Here I am” said a weak voice, they all turned to see Radu supported by two soldiers of the “Arkadon” regiment. He was in a terrible shape, and one of his eyes as under a bloody rag.

Von Grotz asked” What happened? Where were you?’

One of the soldiers, a sergeant answered: “We found him in the basement of a house, chained to a wall, half naked and with marks of torture on him. One of his eyes had been gouged out. “

Radu stopped the soldier”These we can talk about later, I need to see the Princess?”

Everyone’s face grimaced. Radu looked puzzled: “What, what is going on? Is she…”

“No”, said Anne, “she is not dead, but she is sleeping heavily, we can’t wake her up yet. She wnet thorugh hell.”

Grotz looked at him” Radu, the Princess lost her arm. We had to amputate it. She is alive, but very week. For the time being affairs of the state are run by us”

Radu looked darkly, and then fainted.


A J said...

Grand Duke Karl and indeed all of Hetzenberg will mourn the death of Ambassador Baron Heinrich Tapfer, even as they will applaud his bravery in saving the life of Despotissa Theofila. The life of an ambassador is supposed to be sacrosanct. Hard questions will be asked about this incident.

Capt Bill said...

All of Beerstein is shocked to hear of this terrible event. General Graf James von Beerstein, acting as Head of State during Reich Duke Wilhelm's grand tour, has placed a brigade of infantry and dragoons on full alert to be sent to Morea if requested!

abdul666 said...

Our most sincere wishes of recovery to Despotissa Theofila; yet after such mutilation one (specially a woman) may never be the same again, in mind as in body.

How could the preparation of such a multipronged assault, involving a number of persons, pass unsuspected? Those pulling the strings are really cunning, devious and efficient.
Where does it come from? A purely internal affair, or the hand of a foreign Power? The freedom of religion enjoyed in Morea is anathematized in many places, in the East as well as in the West.
If prisoners were taken they will talk, of course: but mere underlings were probably misled with regard to the true identity and agenda of the organizers.
And one wonders: almost at the same time, an assault against the Palace in Morea, an ambush set against the Morean Heir Apparent... coincidental? If not, the implications are frightening.

Prinz Geoffrey said...

Good lord!!! How could this have happened. One wonders how long it will take for news of this assault to reach other countries and Basil. Travlos, you are a brutal author :) amputating the princess' arm, wow!!!

Bluebear Jeff said...

When something terrible like this occurs, we in Saxe-Bearstein always look to see if there is any reason to suspect the vile Stagonians.

We send our prayers of the survival of the Princess and the realm of Morea . . . may justice prevail over these foul plotters.

-- Jeff of Saxe-Bearstein

abdul666 said...

Vile Stagonia? Somehow it seems unlikely - the plan was excellent, meticulously prepared, secrecy admirably preserved, and the execution *almost* perfect: Stagonian clumsiness is proverbial. And there is the frightening possibilty that the mastermind(s) indirectly induced the simultaneous aggression of Young King Basil: far above all known Stagonian abilties.
Then? The Waldrecker ruling line is rather vile, and has contacts in Bizercca: but why mingle with Morean affairs? Cavenderia? To assassinatie the Despotissa seems a rather excessive step, even for a Prince Geoffrey in hysterical mode, and chiefly the assault on the Palace is out of scale with the Cavenderian possibilities. Their agents may have been unknowingly used as pawns, but both countries definitively don’t play in the same league as the organizer(s) of the coup.
Then, there is the mysterious Neo-Byzantium: the Basileos tried to burn down Paris some time ago, and his agents indeed managed to start a few fires: not bad from so far away, and from people bewildered by the cultural differences. Neo-Byzantium is allied to (a dominion of?) the Ottomans; still burning of hatred for all things Roman Catholics, the Basileos is an objective ally of the islamists / jihadists there. The peaceful coexistence of Christians ansd Musilms is for sure resented as blasphemous anathema in such circles…


marion said...

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