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, June 24, 2022

Storm Clouds 1866 (Part IV)

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

Marie Luise, shifted her stance to one of attention, when a door hissed open behind the throne on it's raised platform. An ornately decorated automaton, emerged. It's armoured body was covered in jet black plating decorated with elaborate gold and silver filigree and etchings and baroque decorations and the full coat of arms of the Imperial and Royal Court. A hiss of surprise slipped from her lips, it was the Grand Marshall of the Mechanicals, Constructs and Automata of the Imperial and Royal Court! This automaton had served the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire, for generations being set in place within the court of Charles the Great, known as Charlemagne to later generations. It has watched over many generations of emperors and empresses and their families: the Carolingian, Franconian, Saxon, Salian, Hohenstaufen, the Separate Emperors, Luxemburg, Habsburg , Wittelsbach and Habsburg-Lorraine dynasties, and if any single being could be said to totally and completely embody the grandeur, prestige and living history of the Imperial and Royal Court, the Grand Marshall was it.

Even the human officials carried out it's merest instruction or order with a promptness bordering on sheer terror. Nothing that happened in the Imperial and Royal Court happened without the Grand Marshall, being made aware of it, no action could be taken on anything without it's carefully considered direction. An court official who dared challenge it, was ruthlessly dismissed, disgraced or removed, the Grand Marshall was omniscient, all knowing on all matters of court or ceremonial edict and protocol, and to be obeyed immediately without any question. Despite it's ominous reputation as the "eminence grise" of the Imperial and Royal Court, the Grand Marshall was actually universally esteemed and respected by the majority of the court staff and lower officials, who found the automaton to be courteous, and considered in thought and action. Only the higher human court officials, particularly the more stuffy and officious ones, who thought they were actually in charge, tended to run afoul of him, much to the rest of the court staff's gleeful if carefully concealed amusement.

Marie Luise had heard all this from Archduke Karl and Archduke Johann, over the years of their long friendship, but she always felt just a little off balance, even awed, when meeting the ancient automaton. "He" was in many ways the stuff of legend and the ages, as few living things could be in these times. The Grand Marshall, was eternal, as no mere human was, he would go on forever unless felled by some freak accident or malfunction, like some living avatar, as did his fellow court automatons.

"I bid you welcome to the Imperial and Royal Court, Your Serene Highness." His mechanical constructed voice was surprisingly soft but intensely clear, almost musical in tone. It was recorded that at least one attempt to assassinate an emperor in his present had been thwarted when, the Grand Marshall had screamed at him with such vehemence that the man's eardrums had explosively ruptured, allowing the emperor's attendants to seize the would be assassin.

Marie Luise, bowed deeply in respect. The Grand Marshall's glowing eyes, seemed to twinkle at her from their darkened slots, one of it's gauntlet like hands reached out and touched the ivory handle of her interimstab and spoke.

"There is no need for such ceremony, in private. We are equals here, you and I, Fürstin von Eggenberg. We are both dedicated servants of the Emperor."

Suddenly, the Grand Marshall, straightened and swerved to his right his eyes flashing in response to some internal alarm or message sent to him through the special communications system built into the very walls of the palace, that the automatons used to communicate, a door opened to the side of the audience room adjacent to the throne. Two automatons entered almost as ornately decorated in snarling scarlet, gold and black as the Grand Marshall. They were we part of the Imperial Trabant Guard, the bodyguards of the Imperial family.

A moment later, his Imperial, Royal and Apostolic Majesty Francis Joseph the First, Emperor of Austria, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Bohemia, King of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia and Lodomeria and Illyria, King of Venetia and Lombardia, King of Serbia and of Montenegro; King of Jerusalem etc., Archduke of Austria; Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow, Duke of Lorraine, of Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and of Bukovina; Grand Prince of Transylvania; Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Upper and Lower Silesia, of Modena, Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla, of Oświęcim, Zator and Ćeszyn, Friuli, Ragusa (Dubrovnik) and Zara (Zadar); Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca; Prince of Trent (Trento) and Brixen; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and in Istria; Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenberg, etc.; Lord of Trieste, of Cattaro (Kotor), and over the Windic march; Grand Voivode of the Voivodship of Serbia, entered the room alone save for two more of his automaton Trabant Guards.

Marie Luise, came to rigid attention beside the Grand Marshall, both bowed deeply to their master. Franz Josef, accepted their courtesy with quiet deliberation, then gestured for them to rise and join him.

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