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

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Man in the Red Mask (Part I)

City of London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, January 1889.

To know a man, you must know his background, his family, his vices and virtues. To destroy a man you need to know his name, his abode, his habits, his place of work or occupation. What does one do, when the man in question has none of these? All about him is wrapped in silence, shadows and secrecy. He volunteers nothing and nobody who knows anything will speak of him. In a certain section of London, there was one such man, a gentleman by his dress and manners and possessed of both means, educations and more then average intelligence. He had many accomplices, spies and informants spread throughout the great city, he heard all the whispers and goings on in the London Underworld and little that went on escaped his notice. This man operated and did business in the twilight between law abiding society and it's polar opposite the world of crimes and criminality.

He, if he was indeed such as no one had ever seen his face beneath the mask he habitually wore or heard his real voice, went by various names in that society of that twilight world.  The Red Mask or  the Red Hood were amoung the more popular and printable names given to him by other criminals. He was known as Lord Hood by his own preference to those who worked directly for or alongside him on a given commission.

Lord Hood was something unique in the criminal underworld, he was what was beginning to be called a 'mastermind'. His occupation, if one could call it that, was the planning of crimes, sometimes he involved himself directly in their execution at other times he stayed on the sidelines as an advisor or acted from the shadows in a supporting role as the need arose. He worked for a set commission of seven percent of the take, though he would sometimes demand a higher fee if he had to become involved directly or the degree of risk in the attempting the crime was higher then what he regarded as usual. Lord Hood as a matter of habit and professional interest frequently took jobs that other criminal gangs or individual masterminds would not touch, either through a perfectly natural but unspoken fear of failure or because they thought the said crime was beneath their notice or reputation to involve themselves in.

Another quirk of his, was that he would never work with the same individual, group or gang of criminals, more then three times in a given year. On reflection most of the professional criminals in London, saw the sense in it. Some of the jobs Lord Hood's name was attached to over the years had been both notorious or sensational in the extreme and an interval to let the 'official' heat to blow over was not a bad idea in their opinion.

Lord Hood had first appeared as far as the London Underworld was concerned in 1880, and it was whispered though no one could confirm it, that he had been an apprentice of an American mastermind of some notoriety, in some New England port city or other, called the Red Hood. Whatever the truth of the matter, Lord Hood had evidently learned his trade well and begun work in the city offering his services as a consulting criminal to the smaller gangs and criminal outfits. His first commission according to popular rumor had been planning the Great Cliffton & Downs Bullion Train robbery, some Fifty thousand pounds sterling had been stolen by the Stafford Reubens gang, a relatively minor not to say at the time insignificant criminal gang of robbers, muggers and occasional safe crackers. Lord Hood was paid some three thousand and five hundred pounds for the affair, while the members of the Reubens gang had each received nearly five thousand pounds a piece!

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