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

Friday, December 9, 2016

Attendence at the Kendal Ball (Part III)

Schomberg Palace, London, Great Britain: January 1886

"Thank you, Deerborn, that will be all." Sir Leo suddenly remarked, as his fingers hit the desk top for the final time. "Tell, Stephen, I shall be joining him in the family dinning room for breakfast momentarily."

"Very Good, My Lord."

As soon, as Deerborn, closed the door behind him, Sir Leo, went to the door and locked it. He wanted neither to be disturbed at this moment nor to have to explain what he was doing. Once that was done, he went back to his desk, unlocked a special drawer hidden by a false panel and leafed through it's contents. Withdrawing a bundle of two dozen letters and a leather bound notebook. Quickly replaced the monocle in his left eye and carefully re-read each of the letters, giving particular attention to three of them addressed to him by the late 3rd Duke of Kendal, Sir Geoffrey Wraithdale.

Sir Leo, then carefully restacked the letters and turned his attention to the leather notebook, flipping through several pages, filled with scribbled notes of drafts of figures, sums and accounts. He abruptly snapped the notebook shut after several long moments of study. The residue of Sir Geoffrey's estate was considerable... so considerable in point of fact, that many men might play a dangerous game to either gain it or at least control it. Sir Leo replaced the items in their locked drawer, and left his study to make his way downstairs to the dinning room with the morning newspapers and the Duchess's letter under his arm.

"Morning, Leo." Stephen remarked from the long table, his breakfast already finished save for a cup of coffee set at his elbow, as he leafed through the morning papers. Sir Leo's older brother, the 7th Duke of Schomberg, as was his habit dressed in his naval uniform, which to do him justice suited him wonderfully well. Dark haired and dark eyed, like all the Worthing-Topper men with a face rendered tanned by the sun and long periods of sea service, Stephen looked the picture of the gallant and professional British Royal Navy officer. His good looks, smartly trimmed moustaches and goatee, his considerable height - he was nearly six feet from head to toe - enhanced that image, as did the rows of service ribbons and decorations that adorned his chest.

"Morning, Stephen." Sir Leo responded as he filled a plate from the buffet, deposited it on the table with his papers, then returned to the buffet for a cup of tea. "Vivian not joining us this morning?" he remarked over his shoulder. Stephen's wife was punctuality personified, so her absence was immediately noticed by Sir Leo.

"No, still taking things gently this morning. That preparation, your man, Otani, came up with helped with her cold very well last night. Vivi' is breathing more normally, I think she got a decent rest finally, although she's still has not gotten her appetite back fully. Still, she got down a glass of orange juice, a chocolate roll and some coffee at 7:30 this morning, so hopefully she'll be receptive to something with more substance by lunch."

"I will pass on your compliments to Otani, then shall I?" Sir Leo remarked with a smile over the brim of his tea cup.

"Please." Stephen rejoined between sips of his own coffee. "Any plans for the day?"

"I have some errands and some parliamentary committee duties to attend to this morning, yes. Although I should be free by the late afternoon, at the earliest. Am I required for some special social duty?"

"Mama, will be joining us, shortly and she's in one of her moods, again."

"Which one would that be? Let me guess: it's either I or Wilfred are behaving absolutely disgracefully, again, or Cecilia has done something that Mama does not approve of?"

Stephen surprised himself with a short bark of laughter at his younger brother's equal parts droll and exasperated tone. Stephen had always been the dutiful son, with regards their parents, while the youngest son, Lionel Wilfred had always been something of the black sheep of the family. Leopold however had always had the most stubbornly independent strike of the three brothers, and thought absolutely nothing of answering back to either of their parents if he thought they were in the wrong or being merely obstinate. Father, of course had never been bothered by this: it showed his second son had character. Leo was as a rule rarely disrespectful to them even if he managed to exasperate them at times and in most reasonable things was perfectly willing to accommodate his parents wishes and commands. Mama had always taken it badly however, she saw her middle son's having a mind of his own, as nothing less then patent disloyalty, disrespect and disobedience.

Sir Leo rolled his eyes, at his brother's expression. At that moment, Wilfred casually sauntered into the dinning room and helped himself to a cup of coffee.

"Morning, fellows." He said affably. Both his elder brothers nodded in return, before resuming their study of the morning news.

"Better make yourself scarce Wilfred, Mama may be on the warpath again." Sir Leo said without looking up from his letter.

"Oh God, and it's only just past breakfast?!" Wilfred remarked with a look of mock innocence and  horror written on his face.

"You are as bad as Leo, Wilfred!" Stephen shot back with a chuckle and shake of his head. Cecilia, their youngest sibling chose that moment to make her appearance in the dinning room.

"Morning." She said gaily, her brothers smiled in unison, Cecilia had a way of lighting up a room with her sunny disposition and graceful beauty. She quickly seated herself beside her favourite brother, Leo, as Wilfred gathered up a plate of food for her.

"Thanks, Freddie." As Wilfred laid the plate before her, and topped up a cup of coffee for her as well. Cecilia was the only one who called Wilfred by the nickname 'Freddie', or rather more importantly was allowed to. Leo and Stephen, usually called him Will or Wilfred, as they knew he was less then enthralled with his first  Christian name Lionel.

"Oooh!" Cecilia cooed as she say the letter from the Duchess of Kendal, Cecilia was never one to pry into others affairs but she loved news, adored gossip and absolutely cherished parties. It didn't hurt that she was an acquaintance of the Duchess's and shared much the same social circles.

"You got an invitation to Ursula's ball too, Leo?" Cecilia remarked between sips of coffee.

"You as well?"

"Yes, the first round of invitations went out eight weeks ago, you were still in Africa, so it's not surprising that you missed yours. Today, this Monday, she sent out a second round to re-confirm everyone's attendance and remind those who got missed the first round for one reason or another."

"Hm." Sir Leo said seemingly refusing to comment further as he looking at the formal card of invitation.

"You are planning on attending...?" Cecilia asked coyly, leaning closer to her brother. "The Duchess's Ball, just would not be the same without her Captain of the Scarlet Battalions... ." Cecilia's voice had dropped to a low, alluring octave with the last words. A bright light of mirth, conspiracy and devilry glowed in her dark brown eyes. Sir Leo instantly swatted his sister over her golden head with the invitation.

"Bad Girl."

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