…the very different approach of another privy councillor who sponsored a spy network, the still youthful earl of Essex. Quite simply, Essex was enthusiastic about the use and importance of spies, and spent heavily in allowing his close friends the Bacon brothers, in particular, to build up a network for him in the early fifteen-nineties.

An Elizabethan Spy Who Came in from the Cold: the Return of Anthony Standen to England in 1593

Paul Hammer


“And that’s how I gained the Queen’s favor. And it was hard earned, I tell you, for winkling that Italian poisoner out of his hole was no easy task! The Queen gave me her hand to kiss and said that there was none braver.”

Molly giggled and squeezed his cock. “Why, Bob Poley, I should be honored then, that the same lips that kissed Good Bess’s hand were not ten minutes ago kissing my bubbies.”

“Oh, yes. Powerful honored, I should think.”

The main room of The Ram and Daggers was packed with men sitting at their mid day meal, making the room loud and smoky. It had all the signs of a London Ordinary: scattering of tables in the middle of the main large room, booths providing a modicum of privacy lining the walls, servers busy bringing food and drink to the tables, clearing away dirty dishes, filling empty cups, a bustling hubbub of noise. But there was one way in which the Ram differed from other London ordinaries, and that was in the attire of the servers. They were all women, young pretty ones, and their bodices were low cut. So low cut that their breasts were exposed entire. That accounted for how happy the patrons were to pay double for food that could be found cheaper elsewhere.

Poley was in his element. He had his back to a wall and a woman on his lap. To be sure, he had troubles enough to kill a stoat. He was masterless, flat-pursed, and some foul fucker was undoing all his hard work in the Low Countries. Continue reading “(Broken Instrument) CHAPTER 8: POLEY: DESCRIBED BY A GRAN”

Mecha from a Weird War 2 miniatures game, Dust
Mecha from a Weird War 2 miniatures game, Dust

None of the shapeshifters can carry a tune.

Which really doesn’t matter all that much because they’re all singing different songs in different languages as they walk through Camp Cuckoo. It may not be music, but it’s one hell of a noise. The Norwegian bearskin has a deep and growly voices, provides the bass notes while the Navajo skinwalker yips and yelps the high notes and the catwolf Beast of Gevudan, representing the Free French, appears to be singing some sort of cabaret version of La Marseillaise.

The shifters appear to be a good mood. The winter weather suits them much better than the summer heat, especially the Norwegian and the French.

Tipareth feels queasy at the insane dissonance. His artistic nature revolts at experiencing art defiled like this. When a particularly loud blast from the experimental weapons area where the mad scientists are working on energy weapons drowns out the, he doesn’t hesitate to think out it as caterwauling, he smiles in relief and hurries to catch up with the others.

Joe, the Walking Tank, has developed into the unofficial center of the camp, due to his size. Whenever he and his crew are in for repair and rearm, people tend to cluster around, exchanging the latest news and gossip. The golems are heading in that direction, towards the looming metal man. Continue reading “(Fangs of the SS) CHAPTER 7: Golems, And Werewolves, And Mecha, And Zombies, Oh My!”

Jean via Brueghel (detail from The Peasant Dance)
Jean via Brueghel
(detail from The Peasant Dance)

For to him they entrusted the task of penetrating the disguises and intrigues of those who menaced them; not the least of Owen’s talents was that he never underestimated the skill of the Earl of Salisbury and others who countered his objectives. In the cold war of the sixteenth century Owen emerged as a man to whom desperate exiles looked to make their residence in Hapsburg territories the safe haven it was meant to be.

The Spanish Elizabethans

Albert Loomie


“Aye. They were my men.” Richard Helmsley gave a handful of stuivers and groeschen to the watchmen and turned to leave the alley. “The big one was Braathuis and the small one Edgewine. That coin should be enough coin for a burial and marker.”

Jean lifted his eyebrows as Richard exited the alley and entered into the busy Brussels street. Richard nodded and answered the unasked question. “It’s them. I knew those two to be entirely worthless, but I thought even such as they would be able to handle one fat man. Apparently I was wrong. Though, from the signs, they did at least draw blood.”

The two men set off down the street, dodging around a cart carrying firewood. They created an interesting contrast, the two of them. Richard, tall and skinny with black hair, was well dressed in black velvet doublet and trunks cut with red. He stepped delicately around the pig shit so as to smudge his new boots, elaborately stitched in the latest fashion, as little as possible. A sword with well worn hilt hung at his side. Jean was short with an amazing collection of boils on his face. When he spoke, which was infrequent and short, missing teeth made black holes in his mouth. Some sort of mange had been at work in his hair which was tufted and an odd orange color. A broad bladed knife, almost a cleaver, hung at his belt. Continue reading “(Broken Instrument) CHAPTER 7: HELMSLEY: DOING THE LORD’S WORK”

A Definite Influence
A Definite Influence

Mirsky’s on autopilot.

He walks through the camp, dodges around people, avoids Jeeps and trucks, salutes when required. He does all of this without seeing. He’s not totally divorced from his surroundings, that cunning survivor beast in the back of his mind won’t allow that. But everything but his survival instincts are bent on planning how to get to Leah.

He pauses in the shadow of the gate to Camp Cuckoo. He spares the monster skull a considering glance. Puts the last pieces together. Nothing too complex at this stage. Too early. But the general outlines seem to be solid.

The survivor instinct taps him on the shoulder. He turns at the sound of his name.

“Sergeant Mirsky! Sergeant! Hold up a minute, there!”

The man calling his name wears Major’s rank, so Mirsky snappily salutes. “Yes, sir!”

The Major’s a tall man, uniform’s tailored, looks like he’s got Intelligence pins on his collar. Mirsky checks his hands and they’re soft and clean. He’s desk, not field. Probably never seen combat. Then he gets close enough and Mirsky sees his eyes. Cold liar’s eyes and Mirsky automatically makes him as a dangerous man. Continue reading “(Fangs of the SS) CHAPTER 6: What A Putz”

Portrait of a Lady in 16th Century Dress Caterina van Hemessen
Portrait of a Lady in 16th Century Dress Caterina van Hemessen

This general overview of women working in trade in the early modern Netherlands shows that, although there were some restrictions, women were able to become active in trade on different levels, and in diverse products. The examples mentioned above show that even married women could act as independent traders.

Women and work in the early modern Netherlands: women’s work in trade

Danielle van den Heuvel


“He’s blessed with fat.”

“I know that you’re an Anabaptist and therefore prey to all manner of all strange fancies, as well as the everlasting hellfire, but that is a strange comment, even for you.”

“All I meant, Frau Cornieliuszoon, is that without the extra armor of his fatty gut, Mynheer Crossby’s bowels would have surely been pierced. And then death would have followed, sure as salvation is a matter of Free Will. If all my years of patching the wounded have taught me anything, it’s that.”

“I take your meaning, Doctor. It is indeed a blessing.”

“And armorial padding is not the only use for gut fat. Why, I recall one time in Muenster, during the siege, when I was one of Jan of Leyden’s child judges – “

“Enough! I have told you before, no more tales of Muenster and the evil that befell it. Now take your leave of us. You have my thanks, Doctor, for without your skill, Mynheer Crossby would have not survived. Go back to Grotius and tell him to wait word from me.”

“Your servant, Frau Cornieliuszoon.”

Footsteps moved away and a door closed.

“You can open your eyes, Nick. I know that you’ve been awake and listening some moments now.” Continue reading “(Broken Instrument) CHAPTER 6: NICK: HEALING UP”

army camp

“Istanbul? That makes sense. But how the fuck do I get to Istanbul?” Mirsky stops muttering to himself and looks up from the letter. In his mind, he’s already on the way. “I’ll get Bing and Bob and we’re on the road to Istanbul.” Deserting the Army is just an obstacle to be overcome. Sure, it’s been nice to be given the opportunity to kill Nazis, but this is his sister and she’s more important than anything. He starts figuring angles, scams, different ways to make it happen.

Thoughts, memories of Leah keep intruding. What she must be going through. Memories of how scared he was, the first times he had to do what needed to be done. She was always the tough one. Fearless. Anyone could stand up to the Russians, they were just thugs, but she stood up to their father, stood up to the Rabbi, stood up to all the scary old women who looked and judged. She stood up and never backed down. All alone. He always had his gang at his back.

He carefully smooths out the letter, folds it, and puts it back into the envelope. He tucks the letter away safe into an inside pocket. Each movement is precise and controlled. Those who knew him, back then, back in the cities, they would have recognized that style of moving. Benny Mirsky getting ready to do what needed to be done. Continue reading “(Fangs of the SS) Camp Cuckoo”

Part of London
Part of London

Parts of it (London) would have resembled a vast building site, while other areas were left to slow neglect and in Stow’s words, became ‘sore decayed’.

London: The Biography

Peter Ackroyd


Moody caught the eye of one of the murder as he was leaving through the Iron Gate. The murder knew Moody well, marked him ever since he’d taken one of them down with a well aimed rock, then stomped to death the broken winged one. So this one gave voice, informing the rest of the murder as to its intent, and took ebon wing.

It swooped across the open meadows surrounding the Tower walls, following Moody as he left the Tower Liberty and made his way down Thames Street. It spilled air and landed on the topmost timbers of a house being raised from the ruins of an old religious hall. Pausing to search for bugs in the oaken timbers, still green and oozing sap, it cocked its head this way and that, beady bright eyes observing both wood and busy street below. Moody could change his doublet, his hat, duck behind this wagon and that chair vendor with his wares strung high on a pole, do all these things and confound a human pursuer. But the eyes above tracked all those maneuvers and never lost sight. Continue reading “(Broken Instrument) CHAPTER 5: MOODY: RAVEN 1 MOODY 0”

Map of Budapest
Map of Budapest

Leaving the post office, Leah Mirsky knows that she’s got to get out of the city. Get out of the country. She finds it hard to believe that she was so stupid as to think that Budapest could have been any sort of refuge. When she’d first arrived, fleeing the Bolshevik pogroms in Odessa, it had seemed liked a comforting piece of the old Empire, Gentiles and Jews of all nations living together, assimilated.

The war stripped all that illusion away. Now she sees behind the baroque pastry facades and knows that it’s the same as it ever was: everyone for themselves and kill the Jews first. Continue reading “(Fangs of the SS) CHAPTER 4: Escape From Budapest”