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, May 13, 2022

A Ghost Amid Ghosts (Part I)

Schlossberg Fortress, Graz, Crownland of Styria, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, January 1866.

The Chapel master of the Schlossberg Fortress memorial chapel, an special annex to the fortress's Garrison Church, and like just about everything else on the Castle Hill, was more then half buried in the rock of the Schlossberg. He slowly made his way around the chapel making sure everything was in order. He was not required to do this, but out of long habit, he liked to see that everything was in order, tidy and correct. It was important, both for visitors to the chapel, and to those who were interned here or memorialized by their names on the tablets that decorated the walls or the lines of busts, portraits, statues and reliquaries and memento mori that decorated the chapel. Several of the local Graz flower shops, regularly provided the chapel with flowers and bouquets to decorate the place, and the Chapel master, liked to see that they were all properly attended to and freshened with a little water as might be required.

Most of the soldiers memorialized here had been in the service of one of the regiments or battalions raised or stationed in Graz over the years. A lot of the names were from the Siege of Graz in 1809. The Chapel had a small staff, a few lay care takers, three nuns and several novice priests and a dean and a deacon along with himself. He had been a soldier and then a military chaplain in his time, and did not mind the quiet of the chapel, most of his predecessors had found overseeing the memorial chapel a tedious, solitary and unrewarding task but he found it restful and contemplative, beside at this stage in life, he had no ambitions to raise in the church and he had plenty of time on his hands which he used to further his own education and knowledge.

A heavily cloaked figure silently entered the chapel, the Fortress clock tower was just beginning to ring the midnight hour. The deacon met her at the doorway, and politely inquired as to the person's business within the chapel. Night time visitors to the memorial chapel were by no means unusual, many people came to visit their lost friends, family or loved ones here when circumstances permitted it or the inclination took them. The Chapel master turned his attention back to the collection of splendid roses he was watering, they surrounded the statue that made up the center of the Siege of Graz memorials within the chapel. Votive candles set in ornate carved wood racks or bronze candle holders glowed in the darkness that filled the chapel at this hour.

The life sized statue was that of a young woman, dressed in the uniform of the Styrian Landwehr, medals and decorations adorned her tunic, while a sword was held up right in her hand, as if ready for battle. A pistol was held in the other hand at her side. Her body language and stance was tense and at the ready, while her beautiful features were set in a serious, earnest expression. Long tresses of flowing hair, with a stubborn tendency to curl decorated her head and framed her face. The sum of her features was rather attractive, despite the overall seriousness of the work, the Chapel master thought. She would command the immediate attention of everyone around her in any situation or gathering.

The two Latin mottoes decorated the statue's base "Omni tempore promptus et paratus" and "Primum pugnare, novissimum relinquere". The first stood to the left of the name and ornate coat-of-arms set into the stonework, it read "At all times prompt and ready" while the one to the right read "First to fight, Last to leave". A fair assessment of the woman who the statue memorialized, the Chapel master had thought on more then one occassion. The elaborate crown and raven decorated coat-of-arms was that of the Eggenberg family, a name to conjure with in Styria and especially in Graz. The personal name was another one that could be used to conjure with, for it was F├╝rstin Maria Ludovika Sophia Nathalia, the Last of the Graz Line of the Eggenbergs. Beneath the name was the her date of birth, December 2nd, 1780, followed by the curious inscription Died October 19th, 1813, Resurrected the day following by the Grace of God to the Imperishable Glory of her House and the People of Styria.

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