Historical fiction novel, by Dimitris Apergis. Exclusively at the blog of OKYPUS in 36 weekly episodes, in English and Greek languages.
Synopsis: London, 1824. The boss of London's Crime Syndicate, Wilbur Barnaby, assigns two men to travel to the -revolting against the Ottomans- country of Greece and locate the renowned poet Lord Byron in order to obtain a gambling debt of his to the underworld. One of the two men is Welsh Bugs Hamhaduke, the so-called "neckwringer." The other is the enigmatic Lord Greywood. The two men will embark on an adventurous journey to the Greek city of Missolonghi via Paris. None of those involved, however, is aware of Lord Greywood's terrible secret: That he actually belongs to the Order of Strigoi Morti, the oldest and most dangerous generation of vampires.
ISBN : 978-618-00-1549-2
PRELUDE : Guilá Naquitz (1 chapter)
PART ONE : London (4 chapters)
PART TWO : Paris (10 chapters)
PART THREE : Vampires (10 chapters)
PART FOUR : Missolonghi (10 chapters)
EPILOGUE : Los Angeles (1 chapter)
[ep. 26 of 36]
PART FOUR : Missolonghi
In 1824, Missolonghi (or the Holy City as it is often called) was a highly strategic point during the Greek Revolution that began in 1821 against the Ottoman Empire and which aimed to throw off the Turkish rule and to create an independent Greek state. Located west of Central Greece, Missolonghi was the main communication channel between the Greek peninsulas of the north and the south and therefore its functionality in organising and coordinating the Revolution was extremely vital.
This, of course, did not escape the attention of the Turks who had already attempted two sieges - one in 1822 and the other in 1823 - to conquer it. In vain however. These two Sieges ended in failure as Missolonghi was half surrounded by a shallow lagoon that made Turkish ships' access impossible, and by land the city was fortified with deep ditches and high walls and emplacements armed with guns and cannons. Additionally, inside Missolonghi's lagoon stood eight fortified islets which acted as bastions in a possible attack. Not to mention, of course, the stubborn resistance of the Missolonghians.
Reşid Mehmed Pasha, the so-called Kutahi, boiled in anger, for he couldn't succeed in throwing Missolonghi as the Sultan had decreed. Missolonghi or your head, the Sultan ordered characteristically and Kutahi weighed things up. Ridiculed, this capable Turkish general captured with his armies — numbering about 30,000 men — almost the entire Central Greece and camped on the outskirts of Missolonghi, waiting for the right opportunity or the grace of the goddess of fortune. However, this was of little importance because, with Missolonghi undeterred, the Revolution was well under way. At the same time, in Missolonghi also functioned an arsenal supplying the armies of the various Greek chieftains and as a result Kutahi's position in Central Greece was increasingly weakened.
But alas! - 1824 was a year of division among the rebellious Greeks. Two rival parties were formed among the Greeks in the midst of the struggle for liberation. The one of them was the political party led by the noble Alexander Mavrokordatos who supported the European course of Greece. The other one was that of the military, led by the legendary chieftain Theodoros Kolokotronis, who believed that Greece would achieve its independence alone, without the help of foreign powers.
It is worth noting here that this internal division came from personal interests rather than political differences. Both of them were really fighting over which of the two would first grab the public treasures and the Turkish loot and the English loans arranged by Lord Byron through the London Philhellenic Committee. Amaranthine itch, the money ...
No matter what, these two divisions had been in dispute for some time until they came into a split and eventually waged two terrible civil wars between them in 1824. The situation was critical, and Kutahi couldn't be happier with this development. What he could not succeed long with his numerous armies, the Greeks were now in serious danger of serving it to him on the plate themselves with their division.
As if this all was not enough, there came Lord Byron's death on April 19, 1824, caused by high fever and encephalitis. The concerns he put into his head to unite the Greeks in combination with the miserable Missolonghian climate shook irreparably his delicate condition, and the fatal finally occurred. As if he had anticipated his imminent end, the Lord had written in his poem "On this Day I Complete My Thrity-Sixth Year" the day of his birthday, January 22, 1824, in the house where he was staying in Missolonghi:
If thou regret'st thy Youth, why live?
The land of honourable Death
Is here:—up to the Field, and give
Away thy breath!
Seek out—less often sought than found—
A Soldier's Grave, for thee the best;
Then look around, and choose thy Ground,
And take thy rest.
A dreamer as he was by nature, Lord Byron was preparing himself as commander in chief of the Greek campaigns against the Turks. The maturity of his age made him practical, and the youthful ideals had abated within him, something that he proved by fraternising with the Greek chieftains who were quarrelling between them like rabid dogs. Both in his life and in his death, Byron introduced the grand idea of a free Greece to even the most sceptical or cynical.
It was therefore unfair for that remarkable man to die in the spring of April. The spring of Missolonghi is the time when nature is sweetened by its own self and displays its beauty like a lust-stricken daughter. But who'd be more appropriate truly to describe the Missolonghian spring than the wonderful Greek poet Dionysios Solomos?
April and Cupid are dancing and laughing together,
and as many blossoms and cores come out, so many weapons enclose you.
A small white hill of sheep yells in movement,
and gets thrown deep within the sea again,
and, being vast white, it merged with the beauties of the sky.
And into the waters of the lake, which it reached in fast,
a blue butterfly played with its shadow,
that felt its sleep within the wild lilium.
The petite worm is also being in its sweet hour.
The nature is magic and a dream in beauty and grace,
the black stone and the dried up grass are vast golden.
It spills itself with a thousand faucets, it speaks on a thousand languages:
"Whoever dies today, dies for a thousand times."
Trembles the soul and sweetly forsakes itself.
[to be continued next Friday, 10 July 2020, exclusively at the blog of OKYPUS]
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A few words about the author
Dimitris Apergis was born in Larisa, Greece, in 1978. He graduated in BA (Hons) Film Studies in the UK. He lives in Greece.
His books are published in both English and Greek languages, by the OKYPUS PUBLISHING. https://en.okypus.com/okypus-publisher
Dimitris Apergis has received several awards for his literary work.
In 2018 he received the First Literature Award from the Panhellenic Association of Writers for his novel Gerard & the father. Additionally, in 2018 his novel Gerard & the father also received the First Literature Award at the 8th International Literature Contest held by E.P.O.C. (Hellenic Culture Association of Cyprus) under the aegis of UNESCO.
In 2017 his novel ‘At the Whiskey County’ received the First Literature Award at the 7th International Literature Contest held by the Hellenic Culture Association of Cyprus under the aegis of UNESCO.
In 2015 his novella ‘Jazz Room’ received the Second Literature Award from the Panhellenic Association of Writers.
In 2013 he received a Praise from the Panhellenic Association of Writers for his short story Labyrinth.
In 2012 he received the First Literature Award from the MONITOR Press for his short story Acid Rain.