Somewhere in Middle Europe, in the mid-1750's ... as the shadows of the day grow longer, men of the regiments of France take up defensive positions around a hamlet and the surrounding farmlands.
Rumours abound that the infamous Marquis de Chenoncoix has returned from many years in exile to reclaim his ancestral titles.
|A period portrait of the Marquis de Chenoncoix.
It was the year 1708 which saw the Marquis de Chenoncoix at the height of his fortunes - known as a pious man, a kind benefactor to his people, the Marquis was popular, successful and prosperous in every way.
That year he sailed to the East Indies on a goodwill mission to assist the sick and build a lavish home for orphans in that distant land.
What happened next is somewhat difficult to ascertain. Whilst there is no doubt that the Marquis de Chenoncoix arrived back in France some time in the summer of 1712, the actual records of events during this period have been lost to posterity.
Church records, official documents, and news pamphlets related to the events of the summer of 1712 were all systematically collected and destroyed by men of goodwill.
The only reference material that remains to piece together the events of 1712 are the coded manuscripts of the Moorish trader, Ahkmed al Jihad. Whilst many parts of these coded manuscripts remain indecipherable today, what we can gather from them is that circumstances of his return to France was such that it left a less than favourable impression on the people.
So much so, that the Marquis' name was struck from the public record, many buildings and churches were burnt to the ground, and the Marquis himself was hunted down like a dog.
That he managed to escape and flee seems but a miracle. The last record of the Marquis from the coded manuscripts of the Moorish trader tell how he defiantly shook his fist at the crowd, and shouted threats of terrible vengeance - in Latin - as his final act.
Which leads us back to the current day - somewhere in Middle Europe, some time in the mid 1750's.
Every summer since those dramatic events in 1712, the people from the ancestral lands of the Marquis de Chenoncoix grow nervous.
Rumous of his return come and go every year. Even though he would now be well past 100 years old, the tradition of fear continues to this day. And so - obliging the unspoken fears of the people, a substantial guard is placed around the township every summer.
This year, a 2 regiments of trustworthy muskets, and a battery of guns is placed in guard position around the township, overlooking the cemetery where the family of the Marquis de Chenoncoix is buried.
Every year, the abandoned cemetery is descerated by the townsfolk - the walls are kicked over, the headstones removed, and the land itself is scorched with cleansing fire.
But every year, after the fogs have lifted ..... new stones appear in that dread plot of land.
Some say it is a curse on the land. Others refuse to mention it, or even acknowledge that this plot of land even exists.
But this year ... things are different.
Somehow ... though some vile magik .... the Marquis has returned !!!
And so it came to pass, that during this summer, the Marquis de Chenoncoix returns to his ancestral lands.
Forever renouncing the trappings of wealth, the Marquis now wears nought but a robe of rough sackcloth, and sports a full beard of youthful black hair.
Holding aloft some heathen idol, the Marquis chants something vile in an unknown language, and heads towards that very ground where his ancestors are buried.
Following closely behind him are the orphaned twins from the Indies, dressed in their barbaric harlequin suits of unspeakable magik.
One orphan holds a magik umbrella, to keep the rays of the sun away from the Marquis de Chenoncoix, whilst his twin brother carries an urn of ashes. Where those ashes are from ... I would rather not speak.
Trotting about in some sort of hideous and forgotten dance, the Marquis and his orphaned twins circumnavigate the grave plot ... chanting in a series of guttural and truly horrid shrieks ..... eeeeiiiii ! ph'tahgn r'lyeh.
Over and over the chants continue ..... but to what end ?
What magik is being conjured here ?
At the conclusion of one particularly horrific shriek .... the charnel ground of the graveyard erupts.
The rotting stench of putrified worms, and hellish fire breaks forth from the ground itself.
As the smoke from the eruption dissolves in the wind .... the results of the Marquis' guttural prayers begin to emerge from that unhallowed earth.
It seems that his dance of Voodoo is having the monstrous effect of raising the dead back into the realm of the living.
As one squad of skeletal warriors forms into ranks and marches past the Marquis and his unholy orphans, 2 more emerge from the ground to join the ranks.
Swarms upon disgusting swarms of them claw their way out of the ground and form into line with military precision.
And all the while .... the head of the heathen idol is shaken in air, whilst the screams of the Marquis grow ever more violent.
The Day of Vengeance Hath Approached !
The Skeleton Horde of the undead wheel about to the tune of the Marquis' disgusting chant, and begin to form a battle line to confront the hapless Township.
And still, the Marquis ... now drenched in sweat and delirious with pure vengeance - shakes his heathen idol with increasing vigor and screams ever louder for more horrors to emerge from the dirt.
The bloodstained banner from a forgotton age - with writing that can only be from that unmentionable time before the rays of the sun first touched the earth .... long before the first semblence of life emerged from the bile of the heaving oceans.
United in death ... the souls of warriors from the ancient world emerge to form ranks once more. A horde from the ancient Greeks, a horde from the people's of the East, the cruel soldiers of Babylon, a horde from the tomb of the pharoahs, warriors from the ice filled caves of the civilisation of Mp'ryah, from atlantis, and from that time before the great flooding ...
.. they all emege and take up their position in the line.
A great innumerable horde converge on the right flank.
Caring nothing for the torrents of the water, they wade into the depths and begin their slow plod towards the township.
The guard spearmen from the Tomb of the unspeakably brutal King Nephernides of Esthoria emerge as one.
Closely followed by the Imperial swordsmen of Emporer Ming-III of outer Manchuria .... fanatical warriors who ended their own life by taking poison as a present for their beloved Emperor on the joyous occasion of his 8th birthday.
Alerted to the swarming mass of danger, the church bells rings and the regiments in the Township are recalled to arms.
The Regiment de ligne Champage marches out of the township to form line.
Lets give this rabble a whiff of grapeshot is the order from the Colonel.
Colonel Bulkeley in command of the Irish marksmen agrees.
Aye ! A solid volley of shot, pressed home with a charge of cold steel will see this rabble sent a packing back to their heathen land of Voodoo.
Faith boys - hold yer faith, for today we fight for the Lord.
But can cold steel hold back the tide ?
We shall see.
Sensing a strengthening of the will from the defenders of the Township, the Marquis appears furious !
Today is the day of Vengeance, written about in the ancient manuscripts.
He will not be cheated of his vengeance.
With renewed vigor his shakes his heathen idol, and screams admonitions to the dirt below.
In the name of all that is impure .... he has done it !
He has summoned life from the bones of the unspeakable Jester from the court of King Arthur himself .... the same Jester who murdered Merlin the Magician, and who stole the Holy Grail from it's place of safe keeping in the castle of Camelot.
The Jester hath arrived !
There is no hope for the folk of the Township now.
With a maniacal laugh, the Jester shakes thrice his banner, and gives the Marquis a theatric bow.
Turning towards the Township, the Jester and his entourage know exactly what is required of them.
Vengeance is at hand !
But the good faithful lads of Ireland are not amused.
Faith Lads ! Hold yer faith. Discipline.
Company - present ... arms.
Company - aim ....
... wait for it
Company - FIRE !
A volley of musket smashes into the flank of the hordes.
On the left flank of the Townsfolk position, the gun battery prepares to fire.
Let em come closer ... closer ... closer.
Battery - load grapeshot.
Battery - set range 300 yards.
Battery - aim ..... FIRE !
A whiff of grapeshot indeed. That will teach em a thing or two !
The air is filled with flying fragments of old dried up bone. But still they shamble forward, completely undeterred.
In the centre, the musket volley has some small impact on the skeletal hordes, smashing the front ranks ... but otherwise having little effect on the movement of the mass of em.
Hold your line lads - Tis going to be a long day, ere tis o'er.
... to be continued in
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