For whom the bell tolls…
July 28th, 1917
Diary of Major Horace S. Browntrout
I was in Steenvoorde with Stanley today when we heard the church bells tolling and saw a Belgian Catholic priest walking down the main road at the head of a long procession. He saw us and crossed himself and said a prayer. “Who died?” I asked. “Haven’t you heard?” he said. “The Germans sent a new type of war machine. Steel Giants, they say. Or some such beastliness. It was your countrymen, friend, that took the brunt of it. The 2nd Olympian Saysquack were decimated.” This was too much to take in. I was speechless. He put his hand on my shoulder and leaned closer. “Did you know someone…?” I looked back at him. “How many survived?” He shook his head sadly. “The officers? No one?” I said with total disbelief. “That’s impossible.” The priest looked back at the procession. “I must go. These souls await me.” I walked off and stood aside, watching. A line of horse-drawn carts slowly made their way past, all filled with dead Saysquacks wearing our uniforms. The bells continued tolling. They kept coming and coming and coming, seemingly without limit. I waited to see any human officers, but there were none. Stanley let out a low growl, then a pained moan. He began to hit himself in the head. He knew many of these Saysquacks. I put my arm around him. It began to rain. I vow to never stop looking for Branwell. I will find him, no matter how long it takes.
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