Exhausted, the Grand Duke slumped in his chair, leafing idly through his journal, he sees that more than a year has passed since he last had time to enter his thoughts and actions, no surely that cannot be true. Those vile Monrovians have agents everywhere, it must have been they who stole the missing pages.
Thinking back he recalls how the demands of state and those of the Dowager duchess have left him little time, but now with a glass of single malt from his ancestral home, sits at his side, he has some time to detail the happenings of the past months.
The cartographers at the university have taken much of his time, but with little to show for the efforts. In virtual desperation the Corps d`engineers and Articifers have been set the task of surveying the duchy. Much progress has been made and many tasks of civic improvement set in motion as a result of their passage. The most impressive of which must be the construction of a canal on the River Grosstinkel, which runs northwards to the provinces of Wittemberg and unfortunately the vile Monrovians. Bypassing les Roches Noir, which made that stretch of the river un-navigable has opened communications with the north and hopefully customs duties on goods passing along the river will help boost the duchy`s poor financial status.
Much will be needed if he is to put the plans of Monsieur Vauban into practice,
not The Vauban of course, such expense would be beyond all that his duchy could afford, but B.S.(Johnson) Vauban.
The Duchess has unfortunately seen the plans for the new palace, which will make that of Wittemberg look like some Saxon Great Hall, and is adopting the strategies of her Greek heroine to inspire him to move forward with their implementation.
Hence his presence in the back room of La Bete Noir.
Sitting with a second glass in his hand, his thoughts go back to his early years on this imaginent, indeed his first independant command in the army of Wittemberg.
A beautiful early April morning, Captain D`oyly Carte surveys his own little kingdom, unaware that hidden in the early morning mist are vistors from two foreign powers.
Both Wittemberg and Monrovia, in need of provisions for the forthcoming fighting season, have sent forces to his fair village.
The Wittemberg Light Cavalry arrive first and make the Captain an offer, even he cannot refuse, and he rushes to tell the villagers to get the stores out into the streets to load the Wittemberg wagons. They then take up position to deny access to the Monrovians who have just appeared.
They must buy a little time, with their lives if neccessary, until the infantry and wagons arrive.
The Monrovian Cavalry commander takes in the situation at a glance and orders a charge to sweep away the enemy cavalry screen, whilst his infantry enter the village to snatch the supplies from beneath the noses of the Wittemberg command.
His troops misunderstood his command and rally back to reform ready to charge later.
The infantry continue into the village.
Although dissapointing, there seems little problem as the Monrovian forces sweep into the valley, with only a screen of cavalry facing them
the supplies are as good as theirs.
The Wittemberg cavalry, seeing the advancing enemy, prepare for glory and charge into the milling Monrovian cavalry driving them from the field. and prepare to strike deep into the Jaegers protecting the enemy wagons.
They take casualties, but job done they retire in good order, behind their own Jaeger who have occupied Windmill ridge, whilst the infantry take position to defend the village.
Leaving the 2nd Regt to enter the village, The 1st make a flank march to protect the supplies from any attack from that direction, only to come under fire from villagers who seem to believe them the enemy.
To the troops disgust, orders are given not to return the fire even though their colleagues are falling wounded in the ranks.
As the 2nd Regt enters the village accompaning the wagons, they too come under fire and again are given orders not to fire back or raze the village to the ground.
Field -Major Douglas knows that the neutrality of this province will be vital in supplying his troops in the future, whatever the provocation to respond.
The 3rd Regt arrives and takes fire from two sides as they enter the village.
The villagers are firing at all and sundry now and advancing Monrovians start to fall to the villagers fire.
Chaos is looming, villagers fire in all directions, the village livestock escapes from its pen and races down the main street, obstructing the loading of the wagons still further.
The field Major keeps calm, his outflanking regiment, turns to face the flank of the only Monrovians in the village. The volley is relatively ineffectual, but combined with the fire from the villagers, is enough to convince the Monrovians to retire.
Screened by their own chastened light cavalry, who return to the fight. ( The pep talk from the Commander in Chief seems to have had an effect, they now seem ready to face the Devil himself.)
The Monrovian forces march away in search of supplies elsewhere.
Seeing this, the Field major orders the loaded wagons out of the village with their infantry guard. The cavalry and Jaeger will form the rear guard to cover against any pursuit by the Monrovians.
The villagers, seeing both sides march away, believe they have won the day, much Ale will flow tonight and the tale will grow with the quaffing.
Yes, it was a glorious day, mission accomplished, minimal casualties, and one in the eye for the vile Monrovians.
It was to be the first of many encounters with them, and not a fewMonrovians bore him ill will.
Only last week a report came from the Corps of Diplomatic Guides that plans are being hatched for an attack on fair Noverre.
Tomorrow he must to the dockyard to view progress on the fleet of Xebecs he has commissioned.
But now, to sleep, perchance to dream,but, please, not that 9-5 nightmare that has occupied many a hour of recent time.