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 II)

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

This particular night in London, was nothing so grand a caper but never the less was something important as far as Lord Hood was concerned. In point of fact he had two commissions to concern himself with this evening, once professional and one personal. He stood alone in a darkened room, save for a single lamp, which stood alone on a table beside him. Lord Hood drew a valuable gold pocket watch from the right hand pocket of his red brocade vest and examined it critically for several moments after popping it's decorative lid. The man he was waiting for was late, not surprising considering the man, but most unfortunate for the man in question. His masked face turned abruptly towards the door. A doubt knock announced his visitor, as the automaton on the other side of the door opened it to admit his visitor.

A smallish, ruffled gentleman with a halted shuffle entered the nearly blackened room. Tom Hachett was his name and he was an informant for hire by trade. The man was not much to look at, eyes pale blue and red rimmed from too much opium smoke, his sandy blond hair, unkempt as was his short beard and mustache. His face was a pale, wasted oval marred further by a weak mouth and a great beak of a nose which was a bright mottled red from a life time of drinking too much cheap gin. He had a slouching carriage that spoke of a lazy disposition and his soiled, much patched clothes said much both about his standards of personal cleanliness and the alarming state of his finances. That said Hachett had a brain in his head and kept his ears and eyes open and knew quite a lot that was going on at street level in the city of London and the surrounding boroughs. In that regard he was most useful to Lord Hood, although not regarded as an altogether reliable or trustworthy agent come to that. Hackett had a number of vices, expensive vices, when one considered he often spent as much as five times his annul income on them. He was frequently broke as a result and would sell his carefully garnered information, street gossip and rumour to whomever paid his next bar tab as often as not.

Lord Hood looked wordlessly at Hachett, who practically cringing when he saw the red mask and red brocade waist coat seemingly floating in black darkness before him, picked out by the dim illumination of the lamp. The pocket watch lid clamping smartly shut made Hachett jump in barely suppressed alarm. The black, reflective and completely soulless eyes of the red mask gazed balefully at Hachett, who just managed to not swallow reflexively in fear. The gold pocket watch, slipped back into his vest pocket and Lord Hood's hands dropped behind his back as he gazed at Hachett for several long moments.

"You are late, Mister Hachett." Lord Hood's voice was a flat, distinctly mechanical and almost a perpetual sarcastic monotone. Hachett reflectively tugged at his tall shirt collar, and swallowed several times before responding.

"Yes, Your...um... Lordship. Me 'pologies for being behind my... appointment." Hachett stammered. He rummaged around in his coat for the packet he had for his employer. He placed it on the table, where Lord Hood could clearly see it in the lamp light. A black gloved hand picked the packet up, and broke the seal with a knife. For several moments he did nothing but read the various written reports contained in the packet. Lord Hood suddenly nodded to himself, carefully replaced the documents in the packet and placed it back down on the table.

"Very Good, Hachett, I commend your diligence." Lord Hood remarked before withdrawing a large envelope stuffed with British bank notes. He placed it at the edge of the table facing, Hachett. Hachett cautiously picked up the envelope, opened it and make a quick count of it's contents. Sighing softly when it tallied with his previously agreed fee. Lord Hood, watched Hachett's red rimmed eyes carefully saw the look of relief mixed with avarice.

"You may go, Hachett."

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