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

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Storm Clouds 1866 (Part III)

The Hofburg, City of Vienna, Austro-Hungarian Empire, Jan 1866.

Marie Luise, stood alone in the audience chamber of the Hofburg, the enormous collection of palace-residences, libraries, treasuries, chapels, theaters, ball rooms, barracks, offices, chanceries, and galleries, riding schools and mews which stood at the center of the city of Vienna, and formed the literal and figurative center of the Imperial and Royal Court. It had stood and grown with the centuries serving as the official capital and administrative center of the Holy Roman Empire, and it's successors the Austria and later Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was the official winter residence and workplace of her sovereign and master, the Kaiser Franz Josef I.

She wore the full dress tunic of a generalfeldmarshall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A long white tunic, trimmed at collar, cuff and lapels with scarlet facings and it's unique wavy patterned and oak leafed gold lace. Her lower torso and upper legs were sheathed in scarlet pants with broad gold zig-zag pattern lace Lampassen. Tall black riding boots, polished to a mirror like finish, covered her lower legs and feet. The Feldbinde -- the gold yellow and black sash -- of an Imperial and Royal officer surrounded her delicate waist.

A decoratively embellished military sword with and ornate semi-basket hilt hung at her left hip, while an interimstab of polished wood with a ivory handle , the everyday version of her more elaborate red velvet covered field marshal's baton, was clasped in her hands. It served as both a symbol of her high office and as a useful walking stick. The gold and black cords of a Habsburg officer's fist strap, used to secure the bearer's weapon to their wrist, were fixed to the base of the Ivory handle. To any onlooker she would have presented a striking figure.

Her tunic bore a colourful array of military orders and decorations from over a dozen countries, not just those of her native Austria-Hungary, for her service had been a long and distinguished one, although not devoid of controversy either in her personal life or her professional one. While Marie Luise, had had many friends, and not a few admirers, she had also acquired in her life, the typical legion of detractors, professional or mortal personal enemies, as well as self-serving hangers-on and sycophants that surrounded anyone who possessed either wealth, substantive political power or success in this life.

The Kaiser, had asked to see her privately through her friend, Baird de Auchmeddan, he wished to discuss the tense relations between Austria and Prussia and get her personal views directly, away from the interference of his various staffs, advisors and cabinets. He also wanted to question her about the possibility of taking a senior if not the most senior military command in the event, that the unstable situation within the German Confederation did actually come to a violent breech.

She had come to Vienna, shortly after receiving her guests in her palace in Graz, to gauge the situation for herself at the political and administrative center of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. What she had discovered since arriving and taking part in the social and court life of the capital, had not left her particularly reassured. Marie Luise, chided herself sternly, pessimism was as much a part of Austrian national character as anything else these days.

Marie Luise, stifled the impulse, to tap her stick against the floor. Her other hand was preoccupied, with holding her green feather topped bicorne hat. Patience had never come to her easily at any stage in her long life. She however did not anticipate being kept waiting for long, Franz Josef, was one of the most courteous and punctual of monarchs, an amused smiled touched her lips, and he hated wasting time, even more then she did.

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