Sunday, July 13, 2008

Into the Cauldron

NIEDERSOHREN, Aug. 16--The fleeing remnants of Maj. von Fischbach's squadron reeled back along the Hohenstraße, hotly pursued by the Waldrecker Hussaren. The Waldrecker Dragoons milled about the unhorsed Kürassiere, dispatching the last knots of resistance in the remnants of the Obersaynisch line.

Rittmeister Braun saw the bloody scene through a yellow haze. The bleeding men and frothing horses seemed desaturated, washed out; his field of vision narrowed before him. As through a tunnel he urged his mount forward; the din of the slaughter before him strangely flattened, as if heard emanating from beneath a blanket or behind a door.

With a jolt he was suddenly brought back to focus by the stumble of his mount. Transfixed as he was by the plight of Maj. von Fischbach's squadron being butchered before him, he had overlooked a rabbit hole in the meadow beneath him. His gelding buckled beneath him, and he tumbled headlong over the horse's neck as the stricken animal twisted about its ruined fetlock, itself falling in sprawl to the turf behind him. With a thud Braun struck the ground and knew no more.