Saturday, June 26, 2010

Breaking news

Barcelona, 11-18th July 1713

Timidly, Loys d'Hauteville took a seat a little apart in the wide room, nervously looking at the dozen and a half Catalan high officers who were sitting around a long table in front of him. They were too abstracted in the reading of maps and dispatches to notice his presence -or were deliberately ignoring him, he thought. To his scarce knowledge on Catalan uniformity, it seemed to Loys that there were only a few generals among the group. He soon realized the eldest one was effectively the leading man, so that he guessed he would be General Villarroel, their commander in chief.

As General Nebot had predicted the day before, urgent dispatches soon started to be received at the Catalan War Board, so that General Villarroel had convoked all of his staff to study them and draw a map on the overall situation. Not only the enemy moves were to be analyzed, but also those of their own forces, because many of the Catalan commanders in the field had already taken decisions of their own, and not all of their purposes were clear.

Many of the Board members showed to be most worried with the apparently suicidal Marquis of Poal's daring move: he had taken an Infantry battalion and a Dragoons regiment with him in a forced march from Cardona to Castellciutat through the northwestern Pyrenean valleys, were no doubt they would clash with one of the main Spanish columns.

-Nearly suicidal, but irrational by no means, my friends -Villarroel abruptly said-. Our good marquis is fully aware that holding Castellciutat fortress is key to us, and he's going there to convince his friend General Moragues to join our Cause... On the other side, he completely relies on his brother's ability in front of the Cardona fortress to hold the Spaniards back until the whole Pyrenees is raised against them... It's all or nothing for him, I'm afraid.

-By the way, Monsieur d'Hauteville -then suddenly said Villarroel, raising his glance to their French "guest"-: The French Army is behaving just as you'd already predicted to us. Just a few testimonial moves, to get justified face to Philip d'Anjou's eyes, and little else. No major moves from their Army by now. -the General smiled for the first time, and then warmly invited Loys to join them -There at the rear you won't be able to see anything, my friend...

While d'Hauteville was bringing his chair closer to the wide table, suddenly an Hungarian hussar hastily bursted into the room; after a brief salutation, the soldier delivered a letter into General Villarroel's hands: -extremely urgent, Sire. It is concerning the town of Tivissa, Sire...

Villarroel hurriedly tore seal and envelop, and started reading without a word. His face progressively went into an astonishment expression. A deep silence spread all through the room, until the General stopped reading. When he did so and looked at the other Board members, he was showing a strange, cunning smile -These are most exciting news, Sirs- he just said.

1 comment:

Bluebear Jeff said...

Sometimes I hate "cliffhangers" . . . but I suspect we'll soon learn the news.

-- Jeff