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.