Governments usually use espionage, of course, but the Spanish Habsburgs did it on a striking scale, and perhaps more striking that the quantity of secret intelligence was the even greater amount of material of all kinds, from formal advices of experts and ministers to old historical records to accounts of the latest rumors running through Europe…

The Secret Diplomacy of the Habsburgs, 1598 – 1625

Charles Howard Carter

Moody’s hurried departure from The Nag’s Head went completely unnoticed and the noise of the common room lessened not a whit. Helmsley reached for his forgotten mug and took a leisurely drink. “Do you think it wise to let him go? What if he goes to warn someone?”

Denby’s smugness was unimpaired. “‘Tis no matter, and for two reasons. First, he’s left the Tower without permission. He can’t go to anyone that matters without being tossed back in. Second, even if he does find anybody to listen to him, he’s so well known to be completely untrustworthy that he won’t be believed. Denby shrugged unworriedly and took a drink. “If I deem it worth my while, I’ll approach him again, when this is all over. I have no doubt that he’ll sing a different tune then. But enough of him.” He leaned across the table towards Helmsley, and his manner became eager. “What does your presence here in London portend, sir? Do you bring word? Are we faithful about to have our dreams realized? What can I do to help bring about that blessed day?”

This has to be handled very delicately. He’s too valuable to be angered. He must be kept sweet. Continue reading “(Broken Instrument) CHAPTER 27: HELMSLEY: PUTTING THE PIECES IN PLAY”

Chad Michael Ward
Chad Michael Ward (NSFW)

The golem’s fist slams into her face.

They had been just down the corridor when the door at the end of it had opened and the woman vampire in some weird uniform or costume had backed through. Malkuth had just enough time to move as quick as he could, as silently as he could, down the hallway before the leech closed the down and turned around. The impact of his fist on her pretty face, the sounds of breaking bones, are the best things that have happened to him in a long time. The gloom that he’s felt since Hesod’s death lifts just a little.

Malkuth drags the vampire to one side of the hallway. “Get in there! I’ll catch up when I can!” And that’s the last thing he can say for awhile.

The last time Illana had been hit that hard in the head, it had been by a war club in South India sometime in 1600s. She’d been so angry when that had happened that she’d killed everyone in the fort where it had occurred. Now she was even angrier. Now, not only was her face smashed to bits, lucky that she doesn’t need to breath as her jaw is smashed back into her throat, but her Mistress is threatened. Continue reading “(Fangs of the SS) CHAPTER 26: The Battle Begins”

Joachim Meyer - Gründtliche Beschreibung des Fechtens 1570
Joachim Meyer – Gründtliche Beschreibung des Fechtens 1570

The term liberty referred to certain regions of the city … that, by charter or proscription, were independent of city and royal control. Some regions were exempt from specific taxes; others were private municipalities of particular crafts; still others were free zones immune from city policing and authority.

The Canting Crew

John L. McMullan

Time passed and it was coming on evening but before the dinner rush. The ale house was empty except for the serious drinkers. Jacob passed through the room, sweeping up old rushes and laying down new ones. Poley’s belly gnawed at him, reminding him that he had not eaten except for some small beer and bread early in the morning. He caught Jacob’s eye and had the boy bring him some stew and bread. He felt other pressures as well and went out back for a piss.

They came at him when he was mid-stream. For an instant, he was surprised at the lack of surprise he felt. A part of him had been expecting this. Continue reading “(Broken Instrument) CHAPTER 26: POLEY: FIGHT AT THE PISSING WALL”

set and horus

It’s been so long since she’s seen the face of her God.

Despite the urgency of the moment, she’s lost in thought. So like the remorseless powerful flow of the Nile, memory sweeps her away. She remembers the way it used to be. She remembers the quiet. Oh, the quiet! The quiet that lasted for centuries. Just the sound of the birds, sand against stone, water gurgling through reeds at the river’s edge, the same prayers chanted at exactly the same time each day, each year, each century.

She remembers the last time she saw the face of her God. The taste of blood, the way it pooled on the sandstone floor of the temple, the prayers and smoke from the censers both rising up to the painted ceiling. The shimmer that attached itself to the head of the statue that loomed over the altar at the front of the temple. The shimmer that sank into the stone of the statue. The pressure at her brow, the darkness that flared at the edges of the temple, the wind that swept from nowhere to whirl the smoke into strange shapes. This she remembers. This she has never forgotten when so much else of her past has eroded away in her mind. Continue reading “(Fangs of the SS) CHAPTER 25: Vampire Reverie”


As soon as he was released, Moody chose to offer his services to anyone likely to pay, juggling the wants of employers.

The Elizabethan Secret Services

Alan Haynes

The Nag’s Head was a well appointed public house with a bowling green out back. The main room stretched the length of the building and large doors were open in the back, giving a view of the green, the players, and more people at tables outside. By this time, it was coming on evening and the sunlight slanted down on the green sward, bathing it in a golden light and illuminating the fine clothes worn by the men playing at bowls. Inside, the tables along the walls were separated from each other by carved wooden dividers, making each table and its benches nicely private. Helmsley felt satisfied that he did not stand out as being too poorly dressed.

He nodded in the direction of an unoccupied table along the middle of the far wall, well situated to view the comings and goings. He and Jean were nearing it when he was hailed from a nearby secluded table.

“Captain Featheridge! It is good to see you. I hope that your voyage home was without incident.” Moody’s voice was affable. His clothes were travel-worn and dusty and it appeared as if he had only just arrived himself. He had yet to be served. Continue reading “(Broken Instrument) CHAPTER 25: HELMSLEY: THINGS BECOME CLEAR”