Beneath the interplay of the big battalions, at least until 1590, smaller parties of troops fought, intrigued, and killed ceaselessly for the control of villages.

The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road

Geoffrey Parker


“I once ate a fat man’s stomach.”

Nick glanced over and gave the barge boy the cold eye. “The fuck did you just say?”

It was the second day on the canal. They had tied up at Vilvoorde for the night, negotiated the locks there just after dawn and continued towards Antwerp. The barge master, the crewman, and the boy all kept to themselves and that had suited Nick just fine. The cloak and the brandy staved off the chill, so he slept as much as possible and tried not to poke or pick at the stitches on his belly. The boy had crept close to where Nick was sitting and busied himself with a mess of cordage before essaying that somewhat disturbing conversational gambit. Continue reading “CHAPTER 13: NICK: A FAT MAN’S STOMACH”

Nazi woman2
Photo by Chad Michael Ward (NSFW)

She looks up at the ceiling and opens her mouth to catch the falling drops of blood.

Oh, how delicious, he’s still alive. She can taste his agony and terror as his life bleeds out. She wonders if his eyes are open, is he looking down on her and von Regensberg? Probably not, Illana likes to blind her prey, it makes them even more terrified. But just in case, she takes her hands from von Regensberg’s head, where his mouth is busy between her thighs, and runs her hands up her bloody skin to her breasts. She plays with them, displays them to the prisoner suspended above her, hanging from hooks in the ceiling, bleeding out over her. Oh, she feels so playful! Continue reading “(Fangs of the SS) CHAPTER 12: Blood Sex”

The London Exchange
The London Exchange

Sir Thomas Gresham’s major gift to the City, the Royal exchange, was built as a lasting monument to London’s position in these markets, and it quickly became the center of economic life in the City.

The Jewel House

Deborah Harkness


Poley awoke mid morning, full of purpose, plans, and piss. As he stood over his chamber pot, he felt like a terrier with its teeth in a rat at last. He knew the author of his woes. This Denby fucker might think himself protected and above it all, but Poley had bested stronger. Had to find out more about him. What did he do at Court, where did he get his intelligence?

But first, coin.

Poley shook his cock dry, tucked it away. The name popped into his mind and he grinned, sharp and joyless. Alewife Kate Harvey. She would be good for some coin. Her late husband had knocked her about something fierce but left her the drinking house when he died of being stabbed. Poley had been always careful to treat her with respect and kindness and she responded well to that. Like a beaten dog, grateful for the smallest kindness. And like a dog, Kate Harvey had her uses. Continue reading “(Broken Instrument) CHAPTER 12: POLEY: A VISIT TO THE ‘CHANGE”

Art by Mitchell Nolte

Luxor, Ancient Egypt, A Long, Long, Long Time Ago

Outside, in the desert, in the night, a jackal barks. And then howls.

Inside, in the temple, the sound barely penetrates.

Inside the temple, the air is still and smells of stone and smoke and people and snake. Very much of snake, the dry reptilian odor is a constant presence and rasp of scales on stone seem to always be on the edge of hearing.

The walls and the pillars holding up the roof are covered in hieroglyphs recounting Set’s battles with Osiris. Snakes, the servants of Set, are carved everywhere. There is a large door across the room from the dais. The room is filled with priests and priestesses and temple guards. They give voice to a hymn, praising the God and and beseeching his favor. Their voices are low and the sounds sibilant. Echos form and gather against the ceiling, against the tops of the pillars with their crowns of snake heads.

A dias at the end of the room, overlooked by a tall statue of Set, so tall that its head brushes the high ceiling of the temple, stands Mnemtarep, the High Priest. He is a majestic man, filled with charisma. The color of his skin proclaims that he’s from the south, up the Nile, from Meroe and its fabled necropolis. The gold and black of his regalia gleam in the torchlight. The crown, a coiled cobra, rests on his shaved head. Continue reading “(Fangs of the SS) CHAPTER 11: In The Temple Of Set, A Vampire Is Born”


Flowers and rushes on the walls of rooms (painted with oils or size) gave way to tapestries which could ‘be made from all sorts of material, such as velvet, damask, brocade, brocatelle, Bruges Satin, caddis’.

The Structures of Everyday Life

Fernand Braudel


It was a normal business day and Frau Margritte Cornieliuszoon was attending to her correspondence in her counting room. A letter of credit for Donati et Cie. The bill of lading for the last shipment north to Amsterdam to be checked against a coded invoice. On her desk, the pile of items to be dealt with grew smaller while the pile of items dealt with grew larger as time passed. The sunlight through the window moved across the room. The movement of the sun was accompanied by several different sounds. The rustle of paper, the click of an abacus, the scratch of a quill, ‘gritte’s breathing, all were audible as the sunbeam made its progress across the room. Its light made the bright colors of the tapestry glow for a time. Then the polished doors of the cabinet gleamed brown as the light traversed them. Henryk felt the warmth on his shoes and enjoyed how the light contrasted the brown leather with the green tile upon which he stood. He waited for the right moment and then cleared his throat.

She was in the midst of writing a letter to a group of bankers in Bruges, checking her latest intelligence on the position of the English pound against the Spanish escudo, when her majordomo, Henryk, cleared his throat. She put down her notes, finished writing her sentence, then looked up to where he was standing in the doorway.


“There is a man asking to see you, Frau. Well dressed. Polite. Possibly from the Court. From the British Isles, by his accent. He says his name is Hugh Owen.”

She carefully set the letter aside and gathered the loose pages of her notes together. She took care to make sure that they were all facing down. She thumbed through the letters and memorandums in both piles, double checking that none of them referenced overtly illegal business. She was pleased to note that her fingers did not tremble despite the apprehension gathering in her stomach.

So now is the time for me to make my decision. I was hoping I might have had longer. Continue reading “(Broken Instrument) CHAPTER 11: ‘GRITTE: THE FRIGHTENERS”

Mad Scientist Lab. Photo by   Salemburn
Mad Scientist Lab. Photo by Salemburn

An assault on the senses.

The sound of screams. Agony. Pleading. Echoing against the stone walls and the vaulted ceiling. The sounds of mad science – arcing electricity, pounding generators.

The smell of blood. Thick and coppery. So thick that it can be tasted.

Red is the first color of the room. Blood in its many varieties of red. The red banners of the Blood Reich which hang and sway from the ceiling, on the walls, the pillars that hold up the ceiling. Continue reading “(Fangs of the SS) CHAPTER 10: The Power Of Death”

It's awful when you get fish guts on your second favorite doublet.
It’s awful when you get fish guts on your second favorite doublet.

His (Hugh Owen’s) reports from England included not merely verbatim reports from courtrooms but even letters from privy councilors. Spanish and English espionage was mainly directed to gathering information on movements of troops and shipping. Owen’s services were chiefly valued for his work in this field.

The First Earl of Salisbury’s Pursuit of Hugh Owen

Francis Edwards


“Fuck!” The hard-flung potato left Helmsley’s ear stinging. “Damnation!” Before he could dodge, fish guts smeared his doublet. It wasn’t his favorite doublet, he wasn’t a complete fool, wearing something precious to possible violence, but the red velvet with the black side buttons had sentimental value. And now it was ruined. Almost as ruined as his plans. Desperate, he slid around a midget doing something perverted to someone supine on the market’s besmirched cobbles. He strove to catch a glimpse of the far side of the market. There! Not a bad trick, exchanging his hat for a hood, but the whoreson’s bulky shape was unmistakable. “Jean!” He pointed across the brawl that just moments before had been a weekly market. “There!”

At the yell of his name, Jean looked around. He saw where Helmsley was pointing and dropped the man he had just headbutted. Bulling his way through the rioting crowd, he made much better progress than his master, and reached the far side of the market several moments before Helmsley.

Helmsley dodged around three market provosts who were liberally applying peace and quiet with their staves and headed towards Jean who was standing just inside an alley. As he was about to reach Jean, a man burst out of the alley, stumbling, tying up his codpiece. Helmsley noted with a sinking heart the blood splashed on the man’s shoes. He realized his sinking heart was well justified when he came up beside Jean and beheld the scene in the alley. Continue reading “(Broken Instrument) CHAPTER 10: HELMSLEY: A DOG’S BREAKFAST”

Vampire Queen by ultracold
Vampire Queen by ultracold

The vampire is lost in memory.

Fugue state.

This is happening more and more often, she thinks.

No matter where she is, now matter how far away she is, she who is now called Bathory in this loud and fast time always knows where the Nile is. It’s over in the east and low in winter. No matter how fast time has started to run in the last few centuries, the Nile has remained slow and regular. It rises, it floods, it retreats. Year after year. Century after century. Millennia after millennia. Continue reading “(Fangs of the SS) CHAPTER 9: Back At The Castle Of Blood”

Market Day
Market Day

Daily life within a small radius was provided for by weekly or daily markets in the town… Supplies came in from the surrounding areas…

The Structures of Everyday Life

Fernand Braudel


Nick was sitting in the back garden, at a table set on an area of slate slabs. There was a clay pitcher of ale and two wooden mugs on the table. In the summer, the leafy vines wrapped through the beams above his head would give pleasant shade, but now were only studded with buds, promising greenery to come. The two trees and the flowers laid out in their pots and urns were all showing bright green. Vegetables were poking green lines of shoots from their ordered beds.  He was enjoying the warmth of the late afternoon sun. It was a nice day, the sun breaking through the white clouds scudding across the sky. Nick drank in the sun and the colors, so refreshing after the long grey and cold of the Netherlands winter. He hiked up his doublet and checked the stitches. Not bad. Some redness, swelling, still tender, but no pus, no stink. But still tender enough to put paid to any dreams of bed play. His lips quirked in remembrance of that morning’s encounter between himself and ‘gritte and his cock twitched a bit as he recalled the feel of her. He tilted his head back, taking the sun’s rays full on his face.

“What a beached whale! Or is it a walrus, basking on a rock?” Continue reading “(Broken Instrument) CHAPTER 9: NICK: A SMALL BOY WITH A LARGE CHEESE”

The Tree Of Life
The Tree Of Life

North Africa, 1942 and a back room in Temple Ben Judah, NYC, 1941


Outside the tent, the golem paces.

Malkuth finds it impossible to maintain a statue’s stillness.

Inside the tent, the crunching footsteps of a pacing golem go unheard.

Inside the tent, the Kabbalist sleeps. A troubled sleep. Memories make him toss and turn. Despite the cold and the damp, sweat darkens his uniform and the cot where he lays. Memories of pain. Continue reading “(Fangs of the SS) CHAPTER 8: The Creation Of Malkuth”