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

Saturday, December 14, 2019

A Question of Territorial Exchange (Part I)

 Imperial and Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ballhausplatz, Vienna, Austria-Hungary, January 1889.

Heinrich Karl Freiherr von Haymerle, the Austro-Hungarian foreign minister looked up from the rather puzzling packet of assorted diplomatic notes, papers and private letters sent to his office that morning by the Spanish Embassy, which cluttering his desk. The ornate, gilded wood doors of his office had opened quietly, and admitted his private secretary, Franz.

"His Imperial and Royal Highness, the Erzherzog Friedrich, is here to see you, Your Excellency." Franz said with some diffidence.

A moment later, the white-haired archduke entered the room himself, an expression of mild but thoughtful bemusement on his clean shaven features. Which Haymerle could quite understand, he himself had worn the same expression this morning when he had started reading his morning's correspondence and had to request a meeting with the Imperial and Royal Minister of the Marine and Colonies. 

Archduke Friedrich Ferdinand Leopold, was something of an irregularity amoungst the members of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, to whom army careers were very much the norm: in that he was a highly professional and enthusiastic naval officer and took to his ministerial duties with a rare combination of zeal and effectiveness and enjoyed widespread popularity and respect both amoung his governmental peers and subordinates.

At sixty-eight, he had an accomplished naval and ministerial career behind him, having served in various capacities with the k.u.k. Kriegsmarine, as ship captain, squadron and fleet commander, naval commander-in-chief and naval minister. Although now grown grey in the service of his dynasty and his country, he had joined the Austrian Navy at the age of sixteen in 1837, and been involved in every crisis or war that Austria had experienced since. Archduke Friedrich had not lost his zest for active duty, his devotion to the interests of the Navy and doing his best in whatever assignment he was given by his sovereign.

"My apologies, Your Highness, for requesting this meeting so unexpectedly, but a matter of some interest and importance has come to my attention this morning." Haymerle tugged at his side whiskers uncertainly as he rose quickly to greet his fellow cabinet minister and gestured for him to take a seat in a comfortable arm chair before the desk.

"Your letter of this morning indicated you wanted to sound me out about something before approaching the cabinet and His Majesty, perhaps with us handling the matter in joint fashion, if I considered it prudent to do so." Archduke Friedrich remarked quietly as he took the proffered seat.

"That will be all, Franz, my thanks." Haymerle, remarked to his quiet secretary, who took the cue and left the two men alone to whatever business they had to discuss, both men heard the doors lock behind them as the secretary closed them.

"Yes." Haymerle continued still looking unsure how to proceed, Archduke Friedrich realized the matter must have been both unexpected and unusual to put the normal poised and accomplished diplomat off balance.

"I will presume for the moment that the matter involves, at the moment at least, the Foreign Office and the Navy?"

"Yes, and the Spanish Government, and our own cabinet colleges, eventually." Haymerle said abruptly, as he turned and picked up a envelope from the pile upon his desk. He passed it without another word, to the archduke. Friedrich took the envelope, removed and unfolded the pages of the letter within in it and began reading. His white eyebrows rose in surprise as he read, though his eyes remained thoughtful.

"I see, why you wanted to discuss this..." Archduke Friedrich said after several long moments of careful reflection. He settled back in the arm chair, putting the letter aside on the right arm of the chair, then looked up at the foreign minister.

"The question being, what do we do about this?" Friedrich remarked thumping the letter with the fingers of his right hand for emphasis.

1) Erzherzog, Freiherr: German for the title of Archduke and Baron, respectively.

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