Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlefolk.

This blog will be devoted to my literary and cosplay interests and stories set in my own alternative historical steampunk background. I hope people enjoy the stories, as much as I enjoy devising and writing them and that it stimulates their own artistic interests, entertains them or if nothing else fires their own imaginations.

A special note to new readers of this blog, the entries "Nation States" are gazetteers of the nations as they exist in the An Age of Steam, Steel and Iron background, each with a few remarks/observations about each nation as they exist within. Any post headed by the title containing the words "Story Snippet" or "Fragments" is a stand alone, snapshot of the background, they will be developed into fuller stories in future, but at present they serve to give the viewer/reader a measure of what this world is like, what is going on in it and who some of the players are. Full stories, will be headed by their title and a roman number, as they will generally be in several parts.

Comments, suggestions or remarks by readers are welcomed.

I would like to thank the following people:

Yaya Han, for getting me seriously interested in cosplay at a time when things were looking very glum for me back in 2006 with several extended stays in hospital due to illness, and motivating me to get actively involved.

Ashley Du aka UndeadDu, for her unfailing friendship and cheerful support since we first met in 2014 at the Hamilton Comic Con, and for being my Cosplay mentor and advisor.

Sara Marly, for her interest in and support for my writings, since we first met in 2016 at the Hamilton Comic Con and incidently helping me make up my mind to finally do this.

Stephen Thomson, my friend, for his advise and assistance with creating and setting up this blog.

Daniel Cote, my friend and co-worker for his advise and friendship over the years.

The People of the The Aegy's Gathering (particularly Jonathan Cresswell-Jones, Scott Washburn and Jenny Dolfen, all of whom I have kept in contact with over the years), who were brought together in friendship by a certain randomness of chance and a common interest in the Honor Harrington books and stayed together despite distance and the strains of life.

The People of the Wesworld Alternative History website, who gave me the opportunity to sharpen my writing and story telling skills while directing the affairs of Lithuania and briefly France during their 1930s timelines.

My parents Mary Ellen and Logan, my siblings Adam and Danika and various friends both online and at work and play for putting up with me, encouraging and supporting me both in the very good times and the very bad times.

I remain as always yours very sincerely, your obedient servant, Matthew Baird aka Sir Leopold Stanley Worthing-Topper

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Attendence at the Kendal Ball (Part I)

Schomberg Palace, London, Great Britain: January 1886

Sir Leo stood at his writing desk, going through the morning newspapers, in the study of the suite of rooms that were his in the palatial ducal family home in London. The whole family had been gathered for the Christmas season and the New Year, Mama, Stephen, Wilfred and Cecilia and himself of course. A knock sounded at the door.

"Come in." Sir Leo, said aloud, still reading through the London Times. Hm, another revolution in South America, possible war in Africa. As he sifted through the leading articles.

Hector Deerborn, one of the family's oldest and most stalwart servants (his own and Mama's opinion if no one else's) entered the room, the second butler of Schomberg Palace. White headed, his mass of long hair, drooping moustaches and long wide beard, always reminded Sir Leo of a haystack, that had just been ineffectually combed with a pitchfork! Stooped and possessed of a slow gait that could only be described as shuffling, the man was the personification of decrepitude. Deerborn had to be nearly seventy if he was a day, Sir Leo thought as he crossed the room.

"What is it, Deerborn?"

"A letter from the Lady Ursula Wraithdale, milord it came by the post not ten minutes ago." Deerborn answered with his usual fawningly unctuous manner, presenting the large envelope on a silver serving tray balanced ever so delicately in one of his white gloved hands.


The Wraithdales were an old family, quite as old as his own; part of the Old English land owning gentry, being squires and baronets as old as England. They had only entered the ranks of the truly aristocratic English Peerage a few generations back, when Lady Ursula's great-great-great-great grandfather had been made Baron Wraithdale by King George II. They had gradually since then climbed up the peerage due to diligence at the Court of St James and service in the Royal Navy and the British Army. In 1821, Vice-Admiral Sir Basil Wraithdale, Earl of Wraithdale had been created the Duke of Kendal for excellent military and diplomatic services rendered during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Their dukedom's country seat was Kendal Castle in Westmoreland, Sir Leo remembered absently.

Urusla's father, the 3rd 'Wraithdale' Duke of Kendal had died recently, Sir Leo recalled it had been in all the newspapers when he'd arrived back in England in the first week of December of '85. Ursula being his only living and legitimate heiress had inherited the titles, income, properties and lands that went with his estate. Fortunately Ursula's father had been a careful, methodical man and a brilliant financial manager so unlike a great many of his fellow dukes. He had left his only daughter a well ordered estate and negligible debts to deal with when he kicked the bucket. Her ducal exchequer was an astonishingly handsome one, running in the millions of pounds sterling.

Sir Leo turned the heavily embossed envelop over in his hands, it crinkled when he squeezed it and felt rather heavier then if it's contents were ordinary paper, parchment or heavier card, perhaps? Sir Leo picked up a pen knife from his writing desk and carefully prided off the ornate seals, one the Wraithdale coat-of-arms clear as print in the sealing wax, the other being the Kendal ducal coat-of-arms and removed the several sheets of high quality paper contained within. Lifting his mononcle on it's cord to his left eye he began to read the first one.

Dearest Leopold,

I am delighted to hear that you have returned to England none the worse for your adventures and experiences in West Africa. I must admit when I first read of your planned expedition I was filled with some... no, strike that... a great deal of foreboding; after all Africa is not a safe place with regards to ones' health, reputation or life as my family should well know. I should not have worried on your account, after all if you can survive some fourteen years of hard and gallant service in the name of Her Majesty the Queen across three continents, you can survive nearly anything.

I apologize that my own affairs in Brazil kept me from being in England until recently. Coffee plantations do not mind themselves you know. I am still very put out that this necessary attention to family business prevented my attending your presentations at the Court of Saint James, the Royal Geographical Society and the Athenaeum when you first arrived home after nearly a year's absence in Africa.

I shall want to hear all about it when I next see you. All my friends, acquaintances and relations are just agog about your accomplishments! Please give my fullest regards to your mama, brothers and dearest Cecilia.

I enclose an invitation to my upcoming ball on Friday, I know of your dislike and disinclination towards society affairs and above all anything that requires you to stay in London. Of our old friendship, I implore you to please accept just this once.

Yours Sincerely,

Ursula Wraithdale, Duchess of Kendal

Sir Leo let the monocle drop from his eye, back against his deep blue brocade vest. His free hand tapped the desk top with two fingers repeatedly -- once, twice, thrice suddenly he made a throw away gesture with his fingers before dropping them back to the polished desk top for a fouth and final time.

Damn and Blast.

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