1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 51

The vision and her cohorts had come to empty the castle of its wounded soldiers and place them in billets, as Torstensson had promised. An hour later, Krenz and Nagel found themselves lodged in a house no more than two blocks from the Residenzschloss in the direction of the Elbe. Judging by its appearance, the three-story house had been the home of a prosperous burgher. He and his family had apparently left the city, since they’d taken the time to pack up and carry off everything in the house of any value.

With the exception of the furniture. That must have been too bulky. So, Eric and Friedrich found themselves sharing a very comfortable bed on the second floor. There were even pillows of a sort.

Then, blessing piled upon blessing, one of the men who’d been with the group that took them out of the castle came through the rooms passing out food. Not just bread, either — and this bread was fresh. He also had cheeses and sausages. Even some cucumbers.

Best of all, he gave them a bottle of wine.

A fine fellow, no doubt about it. Still, he had his flaws. He was neither female nor a vision.

“Who is she?” Krenz asked.

The question was ignored. “You’ll be taken care of by the city’s Committee of Correspondence from now on,” the man announced.

“Who is she?” Krenz asked again.

But the man had left, taking food and wine to soldiers in other rooms of the house.

“If you’re that excited,” said Nagel, “I’m going to insist on a new bedmate. I’ll accept dying in exile after fucking my mother and poking my eyes out. I will not accept being struck down by the Almighty for buggery.”

Eric grinned. “Oh, I don’t think He’s done that since the olden days. But you can relax. I’ll do everything in my power to make sure you die many years from now in exile, blind and condemned to eternal torment for unspeakable sins.”

“Thank you.”


They fell asleep, then, and slept through the day. It had been a very rough few days, and the bed was truly comfortable.

Another CoC man came through after nightfall, passing out more wine and food. Eric and Friedrich ate, drank, and immediately fell asleep again.

They probably would have slept all through the night, too. Except there was an imperfection in paradise.

The Pomeranian had been moved to this house as well, it turned out. They could hear him moaning and groaning in an adjacent room.

All night. Every hour of the night. Every minute of the hour.

“How does he not die of exhaustion?” wondered Eric.

“Fate won’t allow it,” replied Friedrich. “He must not have fucked his mother yet.”


Dawn came, finally, and with it the vision returned. Not long after he woke up — amazingly, he’d managed to fall asleep in mid-moan — Eric heard a woman’s voice in the main room below. It was that of a young woman, from its tone and timber.

Hope sprang alive in his chest. Could it be?

A few seconds later, he heard the sound of a woman’s feet clumping up the stairs. He knew it was a woman from subtleties in the sounds being made.

The clumping noises were on the heavy side, too, for a woman as short as she had to be judging from the pace of the footsteps. Hope flared brighter still. Just the sort of sounds that might be made by a shortish woman who was mistaken for being stout at a distance but whose heft was in fact not evenly spread at all.

Then, she appeared in the doorway. Indeed, it was the vision. In the bright light of the room, with its open windows letting in the sun, Krenz could see much more of her than he’d been able to in the dark cavern in the castle.

She was quite pretty, in a modest sort of way. No Venus here, just an attractive young farm girl or — Eric raised his head to study her shoes — no, town girl. Maybe a butcher’s daughter. Fox-colored hair — very rich, too — dark blue eyes. Perfect in every way.

“I’m Eric Krenz,” he announced. “From right here in Saxony. Not Dresden, though. Leipzig.”

She greeted that information much the way a milkmaid greets the sight of flies in a barn. Takes brief note of the pests; dismisses them as an unavoidable but minor nuisance.

Eric recognized the symptoms immediately. Mentally, he struck a line through his original guess that she was a butcher’s daughter.

“Your father owns a tavern, doesn’t he?”

For the first time, the girl showed some interest in him that transcended “recognition of pest.” After a couple of seconds, she said: “How did you know?”

Her voice was marvelous. Just the way Eric remembered it from the castle, except without the angry shouting overtones that went along with putting a harridan-nurse flat on her ass.

An honest answer would be unwise. I know from the long experience of getting clouted by barmaids annoyed at my advances.

But an outright lie would be equally unwise, assuming this infatuation had a future. I know because my own father owns a tavern was the sort of claim that could easily be shredded by a tavern-keeper’s daughter.

So, he opted for mysterious silence.

The girl sniffed. “Got boxed on the ears enough times, did you?”

She took two steps into the bedroom, and planted her hands on her hips. Very ample hips, Eric was pleased to note.

“My name is Tata and I’m giving you fair warning. I have a short way with irritating men. Give me any trouble and I’ll beat you black and blue.”

Eric’s hand clutched at his chest. “Oh! I adore domineering women!”