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








Wednesday, August 3, 2022

A Ghost Amid Ghosts (Part II)

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

The Chapel master was a well preserved, fit seventy, having been born in 1796 into an Austro-Slovenian farming and merchant family from Marburg. He had joined the Imperial-Royal Army in 1814 as a common infantryman in Infantry Regiment "F├╝rstin von Eggenberg" Nr.45, and seen action in the 1813, 1814 and 1815-16 campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars. He had stayed in the army after his initial term of service, largely because he cheerfully admitted, he had nothing better to do and fought in the campaigns in Italy from the 1820s and 1830s on wards, and in the suppression of the Galician Polish Nobles and the Peasants Revolts of 1846. Following service in the suppression of the various Insurrections and revolts of 1848-49, the Chapel master had decided he was done with the life of a soldier. He had resolved to do something more productive or at least peaceful with the remainder of his life, so he retired from the Imperial and Royal Army in 1850 with the rank of major and decided to seek service in the Roman Catholic church as a professed priest. He had been fifty-four at the time, and while it was a surprise decision to his friends and family, it was not an unusual or rash one once they thought about it. He had recently become a widower, after many happy and devoted years of marriage, all of his children had grown up and were well on finding their own ways in the world. An idle, purposeless retirement did not attract or suit him and would put him into an early grave faster then anything else he might have considered.

The Roman Catholic Seminary he had directed to had been a trifle surprised at him arriving on their door step to apply as a novitiate, but he had excelled at his studies and taken service as a parish priest in his native Marburg and in Graz were he had often served or resided during his army career. That had been his clerical career for a some years, before he had found himself, once again drafted into the Imperial and Royal Army, assigned to duty as an army chaplain with the Schlossburg garrison. Last year he had been assigned to take over the Memorial Chapel, after the previous incumbent had died unexpectedly.

He observed the Dean coming towards him as he continued to water the roses and made sure each vase of flowers was presentable. The florists had done an excellent job with them, as they did with all the chapel's floral adornments. The Dean, shook his head and remarked inaudibly but sourly as the Deacon left the presence of the stranger at the chapel entrance in something of a huff, which was not all that unusual for him. The Deacon was a pompous, self-important ass, in the Dean's considered opinion. The Dean had trained many novice priests in his time in the Roman Catholic Church and did not miss much, despite his failing eyesight and partial deafness.

The stranger went to the altar and made their reverences, placing a beautiful bouquet of flowers upon the steps, along with a multitude of bouquets and wreaths laid there by other visitors and knelt and prayed for a few minutes. Then they rose, with the aid of an ivory handled stick and turned to light a votive candle near the altar, he could see that it was a woman, by certain details of her clothing and movements. Neither he nor the Dean could make out her features, as they were shrouded by a scarf and hood, placing her face in darkness, except for the brief flare of light when she struck the candle alight. Her eyes flickered with a strange, luminous and unnatural inner light.

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