The Digital Adventures

Love of Siam-CH49

Chapter 27C
Head-on Skirmish

When Phaulkon, Fanique and his band of Samurais arrived at the river landing, more than sixty Europeans had responded to his call-English and Portuguese sea captains, French gentlemen, interlopers, merchants and seamen.

With a flotilla of a dozen boats, and with an ebbing tide in their favor, Phaulkon sailed down river to Bangkok with his makeshift army. It was after midnight when they were within sight of the fort. Phaulkon had his men pull the boats ashore and there he split up his force into two groups. Half the men, carrying grapnels and rope ladders, were to enter the jungle and be prepared to attack the fort from the rear. At Phaulkon’s signal they were to attack and scale the walls. With the remaining troops, which included Fanique and his band of Samurai, Phaulkon prepared to launch a frontal attack on the fort from the river. Many thought it was an insane idea, that they would be cut down before they reached the gate. But Phaulkon knew his adversary. Having fought the Makassars on two occasions, he knew their tactics. They would not fight from behind walls. Phaulkon had discussed their tactics with Fanique beforehand and the Samurai agreed. The Makassars did not use firearms. They believed in physical combat with the use of the sword. To die this way was to die with valor. They would come out of the fort to fight.

Phaulkon gave instructions that it was to be a surprise attack and it was to begin at dawn. His men would guard the river to cut off the Makassars’ escape route.

In their excitement to do battle with the Makassars, a group of Europeans, who thought the Makassars to be inferior, did not want to wait until dawn and, upon seeing that the portcullis was raised, they attacked the fort on their own. They weren’t aware that the Makassars had deliberately left the iron curtain drawn and were waiting inside the walls. As the marauding Europeans entered the gate, the Makassars cut them down and slaughtered every one of them. From far outside the gate Phaulkon and his men could hear the cries and moans of the dying and wounded.

At the rear of the fort much the same thing happened. Hearing the massacre and the shouts of the dying men, the Europeans thought the attack had begun and rushed to scale the walls. They threw up their hooks and climbed the ropes only to be met by vicious Makassars who struck them dead before they were over the wall.

An interloper and his men watching the fight from their boat, and seeing the Europeans being slaughtered, drove their boat to the shore to give their assistance. Phaulkon motioned for them to stay back but they paid no attention to him. Makassars streamed out of the gate and Phaulkon watched the interloper and his men get slaughtered right before his eyes. He cursed the men for not waiting as he had ordered.

Just as dawn was breaking, Phaulkon went into action. He had his artillery across the river open fire by sending volleys of gunshot into the fort, thus driving the Makassars into the open. They poured through the front gate.

Phaulkon now led the assault. Without regard for his own safety, he charged up the riverbank, side by side with Fanique and his Samurai warriors. They met the Makassars head on. It was hand-to-hand combat that followed. Fanique was in his glory, swinging two swords at once, cutting down anyone that crossed his path. This is what he had trained for, what he had longed for. After all, what was a true Samurai without a fight? How else could he prove his mettle? Phaulkon fired his flintlock pistol, slid it back into his sash and withdrew his rapier. He remembered what Captain Hollingsworth had taught him. The captain’s words drummed though his head-by the time an opponent can lift a heavy sword over his head, the defendant with a rapier can make one thrust and it is all over. Phaulkon had learned to fight with a rapier in one hand and a dagger in the other, the dagger used for parrying a thrust of a sword. With his rapier and dagger he forged on and charged into the Makassar lines. He and his father-in-law fought gallantly. Phaulkon’s skill shocked the Europeans. They had seen him always under quite different circumstances, either behind his desk with clerks attending to his every whim or else at royal functions, dressed in his fine silk robes, surrounded by people who wanted to win his favor. This was different. Now he was surrounded by people whose intent it was to kill him. With rapier in hand he was a challenge to all.

Once Phaulkon’s rapier was clear of his scabbard, it came to life.

The hours of training now paid off. As one man slashed at him with his sword, Phaulkon evaded the slash with a graceful sidestep and thrust the point of his rapier into the Makassar’s groin, sending him to the ground. Others came, screaming, and as they did, they met with Phaulkon’s rapier.

Makassars charged furiously with their lances, and these Phaulkon discovered he could easily side step. But with Fanique it was not the same. He wasn’t as agile as he once had been, and although he tried hard he was often in harm’s way. Phaulkon attempted to keep him within sight but in the heat of battle that was not always possible. At one time Phaulkon couldn’t see him, and finally when he did, he could only look on with horror. Helplessly he watched a Makassar bring down Fanique with his lance. He witnessed the man withdraw his lance and prepare for a final thrust. From where he stood there was nothing Phaulkon could do. But before the rebel could execute that final thrust, Christoph appeared from out of nowhere. Phaulkon hadn’t see him come. Christoph struck the rebel with a crushing blow to the skull killing him instantly. Phaulkon could see Fanique on the ground rolling in the dust, and knew he had to be in agony. He rushed to his side, stepping over fallen bodies, only to have the Samurai shout at him, severely reprimanding him for abandoning the fight to attend to him. Despite his wound, Fanique, seeing that Phaulkon wouldn’t back off, insisted that he and Christoph help him to his feet and, when they did, he continued his fight, still bleeding profusely, slashing away with swords, one in each hand.

Phaulkon, preoccupied as he was, did not see the Makassar hurl his lance at him. It was coming straight for him. But Christoph did see it coming, and with his full body weight he flung himself at Phaulkon sending them both over the bank into the river. When they made their way back to shore and climbed the bank, with Phaulkon still clutching his rapier and dagger, Mosafat was waiting for them. “Now we shall see what stuff you are made of,” Mosafat announced jubilantly, and when he saw Phaulkon with the rapier and dagger he burst into laughter. “Here now, you come to fight with a toy,” he sang and spun his sword around and around over his head, urging Phaulkon to attack. But Phaulkon just stood there, immobile as one of those stone statues at Wat Arun. It angered Mosafat. “You must be afraid,” he said, chiding Phaulkon. “You know I will kill you. It will be so easy to do, and my pleasure to end your worthless life, my Greek friend.”

Suddenly he lunged at Phaulkon and made a cut with his sword, but Phaulkon was not there. He was at Mosafat’s side and thrust his rapier into Mosafat’ arm, slightly wounding him. Mosafat saw fire. He couldn’t believe what had happened. He had to make short work of Phaulkon. The battle was on and now he attacked savagely. It was the most deadly kind of duel in which both men knew that only one of them would survive.

With a flashing sword and a thrusting rapier the men fought bravely. But they were beginning to tire. Seeing an opening, Mosafat swung his sword in a cutting motion only to find it blocked by Phaulkon’s dagger and, at that instant, Phaulkon thrust his rapier into Mosafat’s side and at the same time knocked him to the ground. In the melee Mosafat dropped his sword. Phaulkon kicked it away out of his reach. Mosafat got to his knees and defied Phaulkon to kill him, telling him not to waste time with words, words that have no value. Mosafat knew that Phaulkon would not strike down an unarmed man and he got to his feet. He reached up to remove his headband to doctor his wounds but Phaulkon was prepared. He remembered what happened in the jungle in the Kra Isthmus. Mosafat kept a dagger tucked away in the back of his headband. In one quick movement, Mosafat pulled out his dagger. But he was not fast enough. Phaulkon ran him through with his rapier. Mosafat fell dying at Phaulkon’s feet. The Makassar revolt was over. More than two hundred men had been killed.

Fanique survived his wounds. Soldiers lowered him into a long boat and he and Phaulkon, and as many wounded soldiers as they could squeeze into the boat, made a slow and painful journey back upriver to Ayutthaya. Phaulkon saw to it that his father-in-law was tended to. He had been concerned about the Muslims in Ayutthaya taking up arms but he learned that General Phetracha, taking some of his men, had surrounded the Muslim quarters and quelled the threat.

Phaulkon now had one last thing to do before he returned to Louvo where he knew Marie would be waiting. He had to meet with Bakar waiting in the Guard Tower. He had an obligation to take him to see the king.

“You are too late,” the turnkey at the tower said. “Too late?” Phaulkon questioned.

“Yes, too late,” the man repeated. “The rebel leader and his men are dead.”

Phaulkon was shocked. How was it possible? The men were entrusted to his safekeeping. He demanded to know what had happened. The guard told him the story. Upon hearing that Bakar and his two men were confined in the tower, General Phetracha came to the tower, killed the two men and called for Bakar to appear before him.

The guards dragged Bakar out of his cell and there he stood in the hallway, flanked by two armed guards. The moment he laid eyes on the general, he began mocking him. “You think you have won,” he said defiantly. “I know you want my life but you won’t get it. You will not have that satisfaction.” Before anyone could stop him, he grabbed hold of two guards and, pulling them along with him, he leaped out of the window to the rocks a hundred feet below, killing all three of them instantly.

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