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Æ Firestone's Crimea: Chapter 6

 

2nd Rifle Brigade leading the Light Division across the river at the Battle of the Alma on 20th September 1854 during the Crimean War: Picture by Louis Johns, 1901


It's September 20th, 1854, and Niko has been working for Irenæus for over a month now, but war was inching closer to Crimea as the allied armed forces of the British, French and Ottomans have captured Eupatoria and headed for the city of Sevastopol. It was horrible timing for the boy to leave.

Niko was at a Hospital, helping Nikita out with the other nurses,

while Father Irenæus was praying and blessing the wounded.


"Nikita, I have to tell you something." Said Niko.


"What is it?" She replied.


"I have to go."


"Go‽ Go were‽"


"Home, I have to leave for home."


"No, not you too; Luka is gone, now you?!

We need you Niko, most of the men have left.

I need more hands until reinforcements arrive.

Don't quit on us now."


Niko looked at Irenæus.

Then Nikita turned around to Irenæus and asked him.


"Father, are you just going to let him dessert us?"


"He's not a soldier boy and only a volunteer.

The choice is his, and his alone."


Niko looks at both of them, then he turned around and walked away.


Nikita cried out loud.


"COWARD!"


He stopped


"When will you learn that actions have consequences?" she said.


Then Niko continued to proceed and finally walked out the door.


"So shall it be," said Irenæus.


                                                      Battle of Alma by Eugène Lami, 1855


Many soldiers from the Russian Imperial Army were standing by for the enemies' arrival.


An officer approached the General of the Russian forces at the command center.


"Our forces are ready and standing by for your orders."


"Good, I'll embark on them when ready."


"Yes, sir." Said the officer.



Niko was in his guest room at the church

packing his bag with the rubles he earned and some nice clothes.

Irenæus knocked on the wall for Niko's attention and said to him.


"Would you like to re-think your decision, Niko?"


"I've already made up my mind Irenæus.

I've spent a month here, and I've earned my allowance.

I need to go home."


"Niko, the English, and French are coming.

They will think of you as the enemy, 

and you don't want to be in a crossfire when they do arrive.

Niko, I beg you, this is your own life I'm talking about."


"I've already made too many attachments ever since I stayed here."


Niko finished packing his bag; then was about to leave until Irenæus stopped him.


"Wait a moment, take this..."


The old man gave him an old green compass.


"...It will give you a sense of direction on where you're going."


Niko looked at it and said, "Thank you, Father."


"You're welcome, well see each other again soon."


Niko had a smirk of disbelief, then he waved goodbye and finally left.


The priest looked up and said.


"Lord, send a Sarif and watch over him, please."



A while later, the allied forces of the French and British have collided with

the Russians in the long river of Alma, which wasn't far from Sevastopol.


Both armies charged to cross the river,

Rifles and cannons fired,

men and men fighting each other with sore,

making a soaked bloody bath of war.


Bullets were flying,

explosions everywhere.

Fire of flames with smoke

and ashes elsewhere.


                                                       Battle of Alma by Horace Vernet


Niko walked through the field with the green compass;

he was nervously walking as he saw dead bodies of soldiers everywhere.

Some shot, some were stabbed, and some were not.


But not just soldiers, but warhorses too.


It made Niko feel disturbed and uncomfortable,

as he has never seen dead bodies of people and animals before.


In a surprise, a soldier was walking towards Niko,

he thought he was Russian, but he was a Frenchmen.


The soldier pointed his musket to Niko and spoke a foreign speech.


"Au revoir."


Before he pulled the trigger, the French soldier 

was shot and killed by a Russian comrade.


Niko was startled by the sound of the gunshot,

he looked down at the body of the Frenchmen

and saw his dead blue eyes before him.


The Russian soldier that saved Niko approached him and yelled.


"Get out of here, kid; this war isn't for children!"


Then he ran away and was never seen again.


Being scared, Niko saw the Alma river and ran for his life.

He passed the bodies, avoided the explosions, and tried to dodge the bullets.


                                                                          The Alma River

He finally reached the river

until he realized the edge was steep, and he fell into the water.

The river wasn't too deep, but he did hurt his leg, then slowly got back up on his feet and seen the river covered in blood and seen a few dead bodies; it was a blood bath.


He has never seen so much red in his life,

he felt exhausted and sick inside.

The boy was about to cross the other side,

until he heard someone whistle and said.


"Hey, hey you! Be not afraid."


It was another Russian soldier, a corporal, sitting next to a tree

at near the edge of the other side of the river,

he was blonde and had piercing blue eyes,

but he was not carrying a musket.


Niko approached him cautiously.


"Keep getting blonder, and you'll be target practice."


"I don't think it's a good idea to cross there, my friend."


"Why not?"


"Look and see."


Niko lay down on the ground and took a peek to see.

Fired bullets were coming at him, and he quickly ducked.

A few bullets hit the ground, putting exploded dirt on Niko's face.


"You're right, not a good idea."


The soldier pointed to the river and said.


"Walk on the river eastward. You'll be safe."


"How do you know?"


"Trust me."


"What are doing here?"


"Watching."


"Watching who?"


"Watching you, making sure every civilian is safe.

It's very dangerous here, child,

and there's someone in need if you go that way."


Niko kept staring at this strange individual

because he was too calm for a situation like this.

Then he decided to take this solder's advice,

ducking down and proceeded with caution.


There's was more trees and tall grass at the river's both edges.

He saw a couple more bodies; as he passed by them.

Then something grabbed Niko's left leg, and he fell to the water again.

He quickly got up, being petrified of what was grabbing him.


He heard someone calling his name.


"Niko..."


It was Luka, on the ground near the trees

on the edge of the north side of the river.


The poor soul was shot on his solder, barely conscious.


Niko quickly approached Luka to see if he was okay.


"Luka, I'm here. What happened?"


"The enemy wiped out my squad, and

the other soldiers left us behind.

I'm the only one left."


"No soldier should be left behind!"


Niko cried for help, but no one answered.

The boy tries to carry Luka on his solder,

and was struggling to carry him

because he was heavy.


They both went to the place were

the Russian soldier was at last, but he was gone.


"Hey, where are you! Heeeelp!"


But no answer.


"We'll find a way back; just hold on, Luka!"



Niko was looking everywhere to see

if there's anything to help out Luka.

But there was nothing on sight

until Niko was shocked with belief.


"Look, a pale horse!' Niko said.


A white warhorse came out of nowhere

running to the boys and stopped.


Niko didn't hesitate and put Luka first

on top of the creature and finally himself

behind Luka making sure he didn't fall off.


"Alright boy let's get out of here. Yah!"

Niko controlled the horse

and rode back to the city as fast as possible.

Passing through the battlefield

making sure it didn't hit anyone or gets shot.


Meanwhile, at the Hospital where Nikita works,

she was busy with her fellow nurses helping the wounded men.

Irenæus was also there praying for the wounded, but also praying for Niko.


Niko was still riding at high speed 40 Miles per hour with his horse.


He met 2 Russian guards at the city entrance.


"Halt! Who are you?" said one of the guards.


"This man is severely wounded; he needs medical attention NOW!"


"Alright, go on ahead."


Niko's new horse continued his speed to their destination.


Niko kicked the Hospital's entrance door and cried.


"Help Nikita! Help!"


The cry called Nikita's attention was shocked to see Niko returned

and also Luka in his serious condition.


"What happened‽," she asked.


"He was shot!"


"How badly?"


"I don't know."


"Luka, can you hear me?"


"Yeah...I'm just...tired..."


Niko and Nikita both carried Luka to the hospital beds.

A doctor was taking a look at him, then Niko left for the entrance,

he saw Irenæus and approached him.


"I told you we would see each other soon."


Niko didn't say anything but gave him his compass back.


"Changed your mind?" The priest continued.


"Yeah..." Niko replied.


He walked out the exit door and to find the horse, but he was gone.


"Uhh..." Niko said to himself and then went back inside.


"Lost something?" Irenæus asked.


Niko looked at him in a funny way,

he rolled his eyes.

and said. "No...."


He sat beside Irenæus,

then Niko put his hands on the face and said.


...not a thing."


The old man spoke.


"There's one good thing that happened to you today,

you woke up and seen reality."


Many hours later, Corporal Luka Romanov was treated better,

they took the bullet out, stopped the bleeding, and were feeling much better.


Niko, Irenæus, & Nikita was there with him.


"Hey, you okay?" Niko asked.


"I'm feeling much better, thank you, thank you both, thank you all!"


"Your welcome," Nikita replied.


"I'm just glad you're alive and well my boy," said Irenæus.


"Thank you, Father."  


Luka took Nikita's hand and kissed it.


Her face was all red and blush.

Niko gave Luka a thumbs up and

Irenæus thought that was a rush.


Everyone was happy that Niko was alive and well,

though they lost the battle and the allies won;

the war was just beginning.


To be Continued...


©2021 Æ Firestone

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