Into her three score years and ten she continued to pack an impressive variety of activities, all of them lucrative and most of them unlawful.
The Elizabethan Underworld
She was dressed in red. She always was. The color was a reminder to all who knew her, who knew of her. A reminder that if any poor fucker thought to take advantage just because she was a woman, the red would flow.
Nick needed no reminder. Those last moments years ago when he realized just who he’d given his heart to, those moments were seared into his soul. Even with all the nervy work that he’d been doing this past few years, pretending to be this, that, and t’other, the Inquisition just a word away, what woke him up screaming more often than not was the image of Meg’s cleaver flashing silver through the air and Meg’s blood-splattered face, the joyful blankness of her eyes.Continue reading “(Broken Instrument) CHAPTER 28: NICK AND MEG: PAST AND PRESENT”→
And that pisses him off. It’s not like he’s the handsomest golem, the Rabbi did his best but he’s a better occultist than sculptor, the handsomest is definitely Tipareth, but damn it, he’s going to be looking like the fucking Sphinx until he can find some glue or something. He hopes he doesn’t step on it. Continue reading “(Fangs of the SS) CHAPTER 27: Pieces Start To Fall”→
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?”
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”→
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.
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
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.
Bleick watches in dazed confusion as blood drops to the dirty flagstones underneath his boots. He’s afraid. Scared down to his bones. That he can feel. He’s a veteran, he knows the normal initial rush of fear that accompanies combat. This is different. Something like a pile driver or a piston, strength that can’t be denied, pushes him between his shoulder blades and he stumbles ahead. More fear. The monsters frighten him like he was a child, scared that Shock Headed Peter was going to leap out of the closet and cut off his thumbs. He’s afraid he might start to cry. He hugs himself as he stumbles towards the dungeon cell.
It hurts to breathe.
He hugs himself tighter and welcomes the pain. The pain drives away the fear, drives away the urge to cry. The pain reminds him that he’s a soldier of the Reich, a decorated veteran of the Wehrmacht. The Captain and the Sergeant are still free, they’ll figure a way out of this. He’s a soldier, he has to be ready when they call upon him. He straightens against the pain, wipes his bloody nose with the sleeve of his uniform, and starts to pay attention to his surroundings.
With the rest of survivors from the troop, Bleick is herded into a large dungeon cell. The front of the cell, looking out onto passageway, is made up of large iron bars, with the door cut out from the middle of the bars. Light is provided by a single flickering lightbulb strung from the ceiling. It smells of piss and shit and fear. There’s a narrow drain in the corner. There are no windows. One of the monsters in its black leather greatcoat, gasmask now slung around its neck, slams the door shut and locks it. The monster grins and licks its lips and leaves.Continue reading “(Fangs of the SS) CHAPTER 24: The Enemy Of My Enemy…”→
These that do counterfeit the Crank be young knaves and young harlots that deeply dissemble the falling sickness. For the Crank in their language is the “falling evil”. … and never go without a piece of white soap about them, which, if they see cause or present gain, they will privily convey the same into their mouth and so work the same there that they will foam as it were a Boar, and marvelously for a time torment themselves…
A Caveat for Common Cursitors, Vulgarly Called Vagabonds.
The sun was going down and it shone red and yellow through the murk like a rotten cracked egg above London. Farmers and drovers were leaving the city, their day’s business done.
He’d been riding a swayback nag for the last two days. Spine like a saw and he hadn’t felt his cock for the last day. He was afraid to look, in case something had been cut off.
Arnold Mulemaker the jeweler lived all the way over on the other side of the city. No way to get there before he closed up for the night. He found that he was again gnawing his lip in frustration and fear. Getting close and it seemed that the closer he got, the slower things moved. He might have shaken that bastard Helmsley in Vlissengen, but there were no guarantees. He had to assume that they were still on his trail. Hell, probably worse than that. They had to know where he was bound, there being so few boltholes open to him now. They were probably already waiting for him in there. So he had that in front of him. He spared a glance over his shoulder to check on what was behind him. Him that called himself Stephen Gardener.
He had to hand it to the little shit, he’d gotten Nick into England, smooth as butter. And now they’d been on the road for three days, heading towards London. Pleasant enough company, always ready with joke or conversation. Stingy with the coin, though, and Nick took him for being completely skint. But with all the jokes and stories, Nick was no closer to knowing who this cove was than when he first woke up and saw him in that room in Vlissengen. One thing he did know for certain. He didn’t trust him. At all.Continue reading “(Broken Instrument) CHAPTER 24: NICK: BACK IN THE SMOKE”→