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30th May, Aftermath

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30th May, Aftermath

Post  boots on Mon Jul 05, 2010 2:56 am

RATED M FOR VIOLENT CONTENT.

The grass was beaten down under the tramp of the men that had passed back and forth over it; here and there the earth was soaked in blood. Earlier the air had been still, and warm; the smoke from the powder had not been carried away yet, but had settled as a faint grey dusting of ash over everything. Both sides had drawn away from the battlefield, leaving the ground between them still and empty, except for the groans of the wounded still lying there. There had been too many to accommodate in the surgeons’ tents. Some had had to be abandoned. The injured, blue-coated men stifled their cries, as best they could, but some could not be silent.

The reason for their fear was not far away, and all of them – if they did not know it – suspected it. Every hand in Portugal was turned against the invaders; even those who did not fight in the bands of guerillas that infested the country would take any opportunity to do in a helpless Frenchman. The guerillas were to be feared over all others; they would not only kill, but take their time about doing so. Every man in the French army had seen the results of the guerillas’ handiwork – sometimes nailed to trees, sometimes in pieces strewn about in the road, sometimes charred beyond recognition.

Mateus and his men had heard the reports of gunfire, and had watched the battle take place from a distance. They were not prepared to engage the enemy alongside the British; they had too few guns and too little ammunition to consider such an act. Moreover, Mateus knew his followers did not have the discipline they needed. Had he attempted to help the British, his guerillas would have been slaughtered; they were of more use harassing the French lines of communication and baggage-trains…poisoning the water-supplies when the French bivouacked near a town…they were far more effective when pursuing such tactics.

So they had only watched from their vantage point as the British were defeated, their thin lines broken and driven into retreat. Some among Mateus’ band had wanted to go to their aid, but he held them back with a stern hand. After the battle was done would be enough time for them to slake their bloodlust. Then, too, they could gain for themselves more weapons – French muskets, better than the guns that some of the guerillas carried (a motley assortment – ranging from truly ancient matchlock pieces to a few more modern guns, but few enough as good quality as the French issue muskets.) Cartridges, furthermore, could be salvaged from the bodies of the dead and wounded.

The day wore on into evening, and finally as the moon rose over the horizon, a vast, pockmarked yellow eye, the guerillas crept down into the battleground, combing through the field in a staggered line. Mateus’ sharp eyes picked out the form of a man, huddled not far from him. The blue-coated Frenchman was lying still and barely breathing, but Mateus could see the rise and fall of his shoulder. He stepped over to the man and turned him over with one booted foot.

The Frenchman was indeed alive, and his eyes, stretched so wide in terror that the whites were showing, were fully alert. He was badly injured – one leg of his breeches was soaked in blood, and there was a darker stain on his side, as well – but he had not been insensible, as he had pretended to be at first. Good. He would be aware of everything that Mateus did to him.

He opened his navaja and locked it, setting the point against the man’s arm and driving it in; he twisted it in the flesh. But this man had a strong will; he made no sound at all, his jaw clenching as his eyes burned hatred at Mateus. Summoning some reserve of strength, the Frenchman snatched up his bayonet in his free hand and stabbed upwards with it, but Mateus danced aside, easily avoiding the slow and clumsy strike of the dying man.

He caught the man’s arm with his boot and pinned it to the ground, stamping down hard on the delicate bones of the wrist; there was an audible snap, and the Frenchman’s involuntary agonized cry in response brought a smile to his features. He knelt down next to the man, caressing the side of the man’s face with the point of his navaja, a thin line of red following the path the knife traced. Mateus did not have the time to deal with this one as he would have liked. The man’s exit would be relatively quick – but he would make sure it was nonetheless not an easy one.

He slit open the man’s jacket and the shirt underneath, as if he were skinning an animal, and spread them open. The Frenchman’s weakened struggles he shrugged off as easily as a child’s. This one truly did have a strong will; he had not said a word, no pleas for mercy, no sound except that one single cry. He had courage. Mateus did not care as he peeled back the clothing to expose the area where he meant to work. Neither bravery nor cowardice would stop him.

Then he set the finely-honed point of the navaja to the hollow of the Frenchman’s throat, drawing it down in a line bisecting the body, deep enough to grate against the breastbone, but lightening his touch when he reached the abdomen; he did not mean to eviscerate the man. A second cut ran in a perpendicular line just underneath the man’s ribcage. The Frenchman was still quiet, and Mateus glanced upward to meet his enemy's hate-filled gaze again, with a smile that never touched his eyes, before he returned to attend to his work. He slid the knife in underneath the layers of skin, peeling a widening triangle back from the man’s breast to expose the muscle. But in answer to this there was only silence – none of the cries he had expected.

He looked up to see that the Frenchman had gone limp, his eyes rolled back in his head. He had found a refuge in unconsciousness. Mateus cursed to himself. The man would probably die before he woke. He stood up and stepped away, leaving the Frenchman where he lay, his chest flayed and the skin spread open like the wings of some monstrous creature. Even if the man had died more easily than Mateus had hoped, he would still be found when the French returned to the battleground to reclaim their wounded. And no one would know how lightly he had truly gotten off.

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Re: 30th May, Aftermath

Post  Josef Widmayer on Mon Jul 19, 2010 6:52 pm

The retreat of the British had surprised him. A few days ago he had a prolonged interrogation of a man. A lead had been suggested, so that he decided to travel ahead of the allied army. Dressed in simple civilian clothing of the Portuguese design, he seemed different to no other of the men living in the region. Even his hair was now a darker shade. His earlier employer and partner, had at present remained behind the lines. This was his own mission as many had recently become. From an elegant yet faceless servant he had transformed into a ragged country man, a bit dirty and hardened. And here he was now, almost on target with the man he was looking for. Yet there was a problem. The Frenchman did not appear at the spot he was said to be, to meet his contact. The timing had been correct, and he had not arrived earlier than that, since Widmayer had been resting thereabouts, since a day ago. He remained out of sight of course, and had refrained from warming himself on any lit fire, had eaten his food cold. He had seen a small group of Portuguese further west of his position. But they were and few, and the sighting of them was very short. He reckoned that at best, it could've been their scouts, at most innocent, simple civilians.

The man did not come, nor had he appeared by the time the night was beginning to close in on the region. Thinking he had waited long enough, Widmayer abandoned his place of hiding. The French would continue to pursue the English the next day, he supposed. Perhaps he could learn of a new place which the contact would appear at. But in the meanwhile he could make certain that he might not have perished in the battle field. He had a vague description of the man. Not enough that he could find him amongst so many wounded, but there were other things one could gain from the enemy's dying and dead so, hardly would his effort come to waste.

The Portuguese were there, unsurprisingly. And the cries accompanied them, as always. He stepped carefully over a dead man, knelt at his side, slipped his hand into his coat and stashed its contents in the pocket of his own. Then he went forward.

It was a while later that he saw Mateus, and while crouched over his own dead victim, he watched him with the corner of his eye. The man did cry out but once. He arched a brow. He had fainted when Mateus splayed his skin and had earlier but retaliation on his mind. He slipped closer, but the dark that fell, following the night, hardly allowed him to see that far to see the face of the Frenchman. He waited for the man to up and leave, and busied himself with the body under his knees. A stabbing motion had made certain the man was dead. No pretend there. He struck again, similar to one who wished to enact a revenge on the enemy.

Further to the left him another young Portuguese seemed intent on making the final moments of his enemy very painful even if - in his mind - regretfully quick to end. Widmayer abandoned the slashed mess of a Frenchman for the one Mateus had brought down. The face, he leaned closer and slipped his hand under his chin tilting it upwards. He tapped the scar there. His shirt was torn. Kneeling on one knee he peeled the left side of his coat from the danger of being further stained by blood. A blade slipped into his palm, and he tore at the inside of the coat.
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Re: 30th May, Aftermath

Post  boots on Mon Aug 30, 2010 4:06 pm



He had stayed close behind Mateus, not wanting to be left behind. Despite everything else that he was, Carlito was superstitiously afraid of the dead. He did not like their faces staring up blankly in the moonlight. He imagined that one of them might reach out and touch him, and - he was not sure what it would do, but the horror was not in what it would do to him, but that it would be touching him. So long as he was close enough to the other guerillas, he was not too frightened, but he made sure to keep within a reasonable distance.

So he was not far away from Widmayer, either. He glanced casually at the man, at first, then stopped still and looked again more carefully. The man moving among the bodies there was not one of their band. Carlito was certain of that. He had the sharpest eyes of anyone in the guerillas, and this much moonlight was enough for him to see clearly that this one was a stranger. Skulking about in the middle of them like he belonged. He wasn't in uniform, but could he be a Frenchman anyway?

The young boy crept up behind Widmayer, moving as soundless as a shadow, and in one quick motion he had slid his prized sabre in front of the man and drawn it up to his throat. He was smaller than Widmayer, but Widmayer was kneeling, so that he could reach this position easily. "Who are you?" he demanded, his voice childishly high-pitched, but with a note of suspicion and distrust that was not childish at all.

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Re: 30th May, Aftermath

Post  Josef Widmayer on Mon Aug 30, 2010 7:57 pm

Widmayer did not move when the blade silently crossed from the boy's side to his neck. He tilted his head a bit to look at the child. A calm smile played on his lips, allowing himself but to look slightly surprised at the boy's appearance.

"A friend." He said calmly as if certain that the blade was of no danger to him. ".. I've followed these bastards." He indicated the dead Frenchman, speaking still in Portuguese. It was slightly accented but not in a way to reveal a foreigner, just perhaps a man from a different region. "Making sure they are dead, truly dead." He spoke as if there was something that they have done, a cruel injustice, the taking of what he had cared for, and he had gone to seek revenge since. As he was alone, he could do but, to seek it here. Amongst the wounded. A single man could do little else.
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Re: 30th May, Aftermath

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