Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chapter 46: Explosion!

Date: November 18, 1899
Situation:  Explosion In The Village
Location: Kota Ki-Bandahar
Double Clicked Images Are Singularly Better
Continuing Narration of prisoner, Lt. Colonel James Lawford, 9th Bengal Lancers.

"Readers are kindly invited to review Chapter 45, Captivity, Fiends and The Angel. There I wrote about being rigorously questioned, fiendish torture and my second opportunity to converse with the intoxicating Alexandra."

"Boredom certainly was not my lot. I was a prisoner without hope of escape. So much so that my jailers allowed me a kind of parole, the benevolence of which contrasted impossibly with their ill treatment of me yesterday. The height of their kindness was contact with Alexandra."

"The remarkable events of recent days surely could not be exceeded. Yet the next hours would prove this estimation impossibly and singularly deficient. Astonishing events already in unstoppable motion were soon to overcome everyone as Alexandra and I resumed our conversation."
Alexandra: "James. What are you writing?"
Lawford: "A journal of sorts; my capture, the journey here, the unusual nature of my captivity, your appearance and my remarks. If fate should allow me to return home...."

Alexandra: "Return home! None of us will be allowed to leave unless you tell them what they want to know. Your fidelity to duty does you credit, but who will know, care or benefit by your writings after you, my Uncle and I are murdered by this unknown cult?"

Lawford: "Duty and honour must prevail even to that end Alexandra. Not unknown. The cult of thugee was a murderous scourge in India for hundreds of years. Colonel Sleeman thought they were eradicated by his cunning pursuit, courts of justice or by conversion to more peaceful ways of life. Come to the window a moment. For example...."

"From our Watch Tower vantage point we see villagers resuming peaceful morning routines as they no doubt have done for generations. Observe several men and women casually greeting and conversing with each other. A dog walks about unconcerned. The merchant house on the right has expectantly awakened as goods are unloaded for sale. All is serene and quiet."  

Alexandra: Did you hear that James?"
Lawford: "Yes. -- Look there!"

A shocking and thunderous explosion shattered the tranquil morning. We could only gape as fire, smoke and debris rose into the air.

Then a second tortuous explosion ripped the same building further apart. 

Blasting the top upwards to careen over the adjacent hillside. In seconds it broke into pieces scattering debris down the slope to the stream below.

We saw villagers stopping all they were doing, more came outside and everyone turned toward the noise.

The Chancellor and one of his military leaders viewed the sudden destruction too. What did it portend? We would soon find out.
1. Some explanation of thugee may be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thuggee
2. For our purposes the cult has changed from small group activity to a national movement to control all of India - as in the 1939 adventurous and thrilling motion picture Gunga Din.
3. Watch Tower scratch-built by the super talented Herb Gundt; HG Walls.
4. Other structures are from the popular Miniature Building Authority.
5. Your remarks are welcome below at the word comments.
Respectfully yours,

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chapter 45: Captivity, Fiends And The Angel

Date: November 17, 1899
Situation: Captivity, Fiends And The Angel
Location: Kota Ki-Bandahar
Images May Be Enlarged By Double Clicking
Continuing Narration of prisoner, Lt. Colonel James Lawford, 9th Bengal Lancers.

The reader is kindly invited to review notes in Chapter 44, Durbar. There I described my early captivity, meeting The Supreme Leader, being questioned and impossibly renewing my acquaintance with -- Alexandra.

As I resume writing, those emotionally undulating first days are now past. However, let me go back in time for a moment reminding you how....

Desolation attending my thoughts instantly fled when Alexandra first appeared in the courtyard. In those moments my hopeless circumstances, the impossibility of escape and my unknown fate were replaced by her presence, striking beauty and conversation. After overcoming my shock, we talked....    

Alexandra: "I am just as shocked to see you. I had time to compose myself."
Lawford: "But how are you here?"
Alexandra: "When I learned my Uncle would be searching again for the missing treasure of Alexander The Great, I begged to come along. We were unpleasantly diverted here."

Lawford: "These regions are said to be endowed with several of his ruined cities."
Alexandra: "And treasure."
Lawford: "Yes but... Did you not know an insurrection by a sect previously thought extinct has erupted here? I am their prisoner; apparently on parole."

Alexandra: "I do now. Our expedition must therefore end. We are denied access to the ruins of Alexandrapor. Indeed our departure depends on you."
Lawford: "Me!"
Alexandra: "Da. When The Supreme Leader learned we had known each other in St. Petersburg, he demanded I convince you to cooperate with his inquiries. A few days ago my Uncle came to me...."

Villainovich: "Alexandra. Excuse me. May we talk?"
Alexandra: "Da Uncle."

Villainovich: "Our expedition is ruined. And there is more."
Alexandra: "Vat - Uncle?"
Villainovich: "When The Supreme Leader learned you knew his prisoner, I was asked to have you make certain inquiries."
Alexandra: "Inquiries? Lawford vill never reveal anything."

Villainovich: "But if he does not, he will be tortured and we will remain here."
Alexandra: "Uncle! This is impossible. Madness!"
Villainovich: "Da. But you must try."

Torture said she. I'd been expecting no less since the first durbar (audience) mentioned previously. Alexandra knew I could tell her and them nothing. When we parted, I was taken to an empty dirty room where the Chancellor and Guru again demanded I reveal the nature of General Pettygree's reinforcements arriving at Fort Grant. They asked more - a lot more. I revealed nothing while....

Five ruffians exercised,danced, capered and hallooed outside the room.

Ordered inside they did not quite do their worst. When the fiends finished with me I was....

Taken to my cell and thrown onto my bed. Shaken but not broken I laid painfully awake most of the night. Alone and desolate.

The next morning after rising slowly, I dressed in my tunic to hide my wounds and as protection from morning air entering by the open window. I resumed writing the narrative you are reading now when....

I heard light footsteps ascend the wooden stairs. They stopped outside my door followed by knocks and the unmistakable voice of Alexandra.

Alexandra: "Don't get up. Those brutes! NO! Stay seated darlink!"
Lawford: "Alexandra! Yes, if you don't mind I will just stay seated -- here."

Alexandra: "Good. Let me throw my hat and coat on your bed. Ve must talk."
1. Structures from Miniature Building Authority.
2. Fiends and most chaps sauntering about below Villainovich and Alexandra were loaned from the super Pulp collection of Chuck L.
3. Foundry supplied Lawford in tunic with chair and table from their British WWI Interrogator Set artfully painted by John Preece. The Darkest Africa range has a nice variety of British officers in uniform and without tunics including the chap with tea cup in sets DA91 and DA93.
4. The Chancellor is from Mutineer Miniatures.
5. The Guru was obtained from Scale Creep. Mark Severin has two packages of personalities adapted from the 1939 motion picture Gunga Din.
6. Old Glory's Realms of Terror, A Romanov Holiday GHR-2 A has the Tsar, Tsarina who became Alexandra, plus two children.
7. Other versions of Lawford and Alexandra came from Copplestone Castings. See High Adventure BC1 Armed Archaeologists and BC19 Female Archaeologists. Also see Back of Beyond BC17 Bolshevik Heroines.
8. One of Tiger Miniatures Bulgarian officers became Villainovich.
9. Your remarks are welcome -- below -- at the word Comments.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chapter 44: Durbar

Date: Nov. 9, 1899
Location: Kota-Ki-Bandahar Village
Durbar: A Conference Audience or Meeting
Narrative of Lt. Colonel James Lawford
My capture on the 16th ultimo and passage into captivity strained my being. Hopeful plans of escape made impossible by my captors gave way to thoughts of abandonment, desolation and worse, the deeper into the void we travelled. Why they wanted me I knew not. Where I was going was unknown to me. What men and fate planned was kept from me. A good thing. Had I known the improbable and singular events about to overtake me, I would never have believed them.

You may recall my arrival at Kota-Ki-Bandahar; the gallop into the village and arrival at  my newest prison within the imposing Watch Tower.

Three days later I was summoned to a durbar. The durwan (door-keeper) ushered me into a sparse chamber protected by a solitary guard where....

The Supreme Leader, Muljadhi, beckoned that I be seated before him. After some conversation he inquired about reinforcements expected to arrive at Fort Grant. Naturally I declined to answer. In truth I did not know.

Dissatisfaction with my answer brought a reprimand from a chap stepping from the wings, a Guru. "No Guru-ji," said I politely. "Even if I knew, I could not tell you."  For some reason he made no further inquiries. I was returned to my cell.

Days later I learned about a second audience where...

A Colonel Villainovitch, of the Romanov Army....

Called on The Supreme Leader and his Chancellor.
Muljadhi: "Welcome Colonel. We are pleased you accepted our invitation.
Villainovitch: "Da. The Tsar is equally pleased and -- I bring the news you want.

Guru: "Delighted. When will the item arrive?"
Villainovitch: "After the coming winter in time for your next campaign."
Guru: "Good. Very good."

Chancellor: "Meanwhile Colonel, we ask one more service."
Villainovitch: "Oh?"
Chancellor: "Order your associate to interrogate the prisoner Lawford. We need to know what new forces are en-route to Fort Grant. Your Tsar may find this useful too.
Villainovitch: "Da."

Lawford resumes his narration:
As mentioned, I learned about these shocking conversations days later amidst an astounding event I scarce believe even now. However, I've presented them here since this serves your needs best. -- A few days before revelation to me the durwan....

Led me to a courtyard nearby saying, "You are expected within. Go husoor (lord) and enjoy." A kind of parole I assumed. After all I had no idea where I was nor was there a providential means of suddenly mounting a stallion and galloping like mad to safety. My swift ending was more likely had I tried.

I entered the courtyard gateway. At the far end stood a lovely European woman apparently expecting me. Who was she?

Thoughts of imprisonment vanished. She was elegantly attired, slender, confident and affected a comfortable if slight imperious air. The red hair intrigued me of course. Conscious of my gaze, she stood still a moment longer and then suddenly....

The striking vision whirled to face me. My breathing stopped. I could only say, "Alexandra!"

Seating myself lest my legs give way, I stammered, You can't be -- here. Impossible. I -- must be dreaming.... "No darlink, I am here," said she.
1. Structures are from Miniature Building Authority.
2. Carpet: TJ Int'l Product. http://www.orientalcarpetcreations.com/
3. The lady is from Old Glory's: GHR-2 Tszar Nicholas, Tsarina and 2 children.
4. Remarks always welcome. Leave them below at the word comments.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chapter 43: KHAN

Date: Nov. 6, 1899
Situation: Lt. Col. Lawford's New Prison
Location: Kota-Ki-Bandahar Village
Pukka (1st rate) images if you click on them twice husoor (lord)
"Open the gate!" KHAN leads the Red Sash Horsemen toward the village of an ally.

The gate is fully open. The leader in blue points shouting, "This way KHAN."

The Red Sash Horsemen gallop through the narrow gate led by KHAN.

Men atop the village Watch Tower lean over to observe and cheer the procession.

In the midst is the prisoner (center), Lt. Colonel James Lawford, 9th. Bengal Lancers.


Slowing a bit now, he leads the horsemen across an old bridge toward....

The village of Kota-Ki-Bandahar with its imposing and striking Watch Tower.

They assemble in an orderly way before the tower. The village malik (headman) converses with KHAN as Lt. Col. Lawford is brought forward. One horsemen (left center) has his attention drawn elsewhere.

Striped men appear from the tower.

Lawford's bearing remains unchanged as he wonders if the striped chaps are guards or?

 In Chapter 42 the unknown officer below said....
Officer: "Bring our guest forward, Vladimir."
Trooper: "Da Colonel."

The guest wears the uniform of an hussar.

They observe riders coming forward from the cavalry horde.

 The hussar rises above the saddle to see better.

The Europeans ride calmly to meet the approaching natives.

1. H.G.Walls artfully built the two gorgeous watch towers.

2. From the collection of Chuck: Roads and natives on tall circular bases. Thank you Chuck!

3. The hussar is a 30mm Suren from the Napoleon in Egypt range. Contact Tradition of London. The mirliton was replaced with a Hinterland Miniatures busby.

4. From Miniature Building Authority: Stone walls, bridge, wooden walls and buildings.

5. The Terrain Guy's excellent table covering and river add much to scenes.

6. Grey natives skillfully painted by Reinforcements By Post.

7. Your remarks are always welcome. Click on the word, "comments" below.