Monthly Archives: July 2016

#FlashFiction Friday

Year 299
Flash Fiction by Laura Libricz

The wind blew the massive oak door open and the page struggled to keep it from shattering against the stone wall. The snow blew vertically into the hall as the king stomped in, shaking the ice from his long black braid. Together, the king and the page forced the door closed, defying the anger of the raging storm.
     The page relieved the king of his saturated fur coat and threw the coat to the awaiting maid. The king sat down on the low bench and two other maids pulled his boots off. He winced as if this pained him. Suddenly, all five of them looked up into the darkness of the high ceiling; the wind whipped and the tower moaned.
     “We must move on into the next chamber, master,” the page said. “The tower is no longer stable. It could crash under the weight of the snow.”
     “Then this portion of the castle will be uninhabitable, too, my boy. We cannot build a-new, not in these conditions. If we are to believe their books, the snow should stop this year. If we are to believe that those men existed at all.”
     The king stood and the page ushered him through a low door into a warm, intimate chamber. A fire crackled under a large iron tank and two maids stood at the ready, their faces warm in the fire’s glow.
     “Have you heard the latest theory?” the page said. “That the world began 299 years ago and all the stories of a society before ours cannot be proven. They say, we are the only intelligent beings to have ever roamed this frozen planet.” He unsnapped the king’s black tarnished armor, removed the breastplate, the backplate and the legplates. “Flora, run the bath,” he said.
     The young blonde maid tapped the iron tank and hot water spilled into the copper bath tub. The somewhat older, dark-haired maid sprinkled handfuls of lavender into the steaming water.
     “Fauna, take these.” The dark-haired maid came to the page’s side and carried the armor away, into the shadows.
     “I do not believe this new theory,” said the king. “No king would have led his people to inhabit such a barren, frozen land.”
     The page poured two mugs of steaming spiced wine, handed one to the king and sipped cautiously at his own. “But surely no intelligent beings would devour and decay a civilization to the point of ruin and an eternal blizzard? I believe this new theory.”
     The king handed his mug to Flora. She set the mug aside, unfastened his shirt string and pulled the soiled and soaked fabric over his head. Three deep welts adorned his waist. She ran her finger over his wounds. Fauna produced a small pot of salve from the fold of her apron and gently doctored his split skin.
     “And what do your theories say about the ice tigers? Are we maybe decendants from their kind? By the way, our hunting party brought back three. We now have meat for a few weeks.”
     Fauna stripped the king’s torn trousers away and led him to the bath. The two women helped him climb up and over the edge and descend the ladder into the tub. He let out a growl of relief as he settled into the aromatic, healing water. 
     “One more thing, master,” the page said.
     “Can it wait until I am finished here?”
     “We need to discuss this tonight.”
     “Leave me with my maids. We will talk in the morning.”
     “There may be no morning, master.”
     “All the more reason to leave me with my maids, page.”
     “We only have enough fuel for the generators to get us through the night. If that. Then we are on our own. Our last bit of peace and comfort will be gone.”
     “Who was to secure our fuel?”
     “The last of the Morixen, master. They contracted the sickness after you left for the hunt and died while you were away.”
     “Page, go. Now.”
     The page bowed low and disappeared noiselessly behind a curtain. Fauna approached the king and undid his braided hair. Anointing his hair with soothing oil, she worked it into a lather and Flora rinsed his hair with warm, scented water. Both women took a brush each and scrubbed the hunt from the king’s soiled and scratched hands. His feet were sore and blistered and he let no one touch them.
     He pulled Fauna to his side and kissed her generously on the mouth. “Undress her,” he said and pointed to Flora.
     Fauna approached the petite blonde, pulled on her apron and unbuttoned her blouse.
     “Slowly,” the king said.
     The maid did as she was told.
     “Kiss her.”
     Fauna kissed Flora on the mouth, pulled her into an embrace and undid her pinned-up hair. Golden curls cascaded down the naked girl’s back.
     “Help me out of here,” the king said, his taught muscles gone to mush in the warm water.
     Zzzzzzzt. Zzt. Zt.
     Winds howled and that familiar snow-white blindness pierced the king’s protective goggles.
     Zzzzt. The warmth of the fire.
     Zzzzzt. The cold of the snow.
     The warmth of the fire.
     Ice. Snow. Cold.
     The king pulled off his goggles and looked up into blocks of ice; the domed ceiling of his igloo lit by the midnight sun. His snow pants restricted his massive erection.
     The page threw a handful of snow into a pot simmering over a pathetic blue flame. “I’m sorry, master. The generator’s out. I have a party out searching for fuel. Your dream date will have to wait!”
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The Real Witch Story #mondayblogs

Kirche-und-Teufel

Kirche und Teufel

 

Bamberg, Germany: The Early Modern Witch Burning Stronghold

Throughout the dark ages, Christianity had difficulties setting down roots among the Germanic tribes. Stories are told of saints who came to the German people and destroyed sacred trees and mystical places in order to show the people that their gods had no power. Even after Christianity took hold and the Catholic Church was established in the Germanic territories of the Holy Roman Empire, evidence shows that the Germanic people held onto their beliefs in goddesses, magic, herbal remedies, and pagan practices. Read more here

(This post first appeared at History…the interesting bits! Please check out this wonderful website !)

The Dutch East India Co. #earlymodern

The Dutch East India Company

The Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, the Dutch East India Company, was a trading company founded in 1602. Considered by some to be the first corporation in the world, the VOC was in any case the largest and most impressive trading company in Europe during the Early Modern Period. The Company ruled the trade zone between South Africa and Japan and was granted authority by the Dutch government to build forts, appoint a governing body and to form an army, as well as conducting trade and establishing colonies continue reading…

 
Painting: Willem van de Velde, The Cannon Shot (ca. 1670) Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

 

What am I reading? #mondayblogs

 

Heather Richardson

I’m reading Magdeburg by Heather Richardson:

Link to Magdeburg on amazon.com
 
1631. Germany. As the Thirty Years War rages across central Europe, the Protestant denizens of Magdeburg are holding out against the armies of the Catholic Emperor Ferdinand.
Sweeping in its scope and ambition, Heather Richardson’s debut novel tells the intertwining and conflicting stories of the Henning family, their friends, their associates and their enemies.

 

 

And she’s here today to tell us a little bit about herself:

 
1.) Who are you and what do you do?
Well, for my day job I’m a university lecturer. I teach Creative Writing at the Open University, which is a distance learning university based in the UK.
2.) What project would you like to discuss today? 
My first novel, Magdeburg, which is set in Germany during the Thirty Years War.
3.) What inspired you to take on a project like this?
I first heard about Magdeburg on a BBC radio programme. An historian was talking about its destruction in 1631 – it was pretty much razed to the ground and around 24,000 people killed in one day. The historian explained that this had as powerful an impact on northern Europe as the 9/11 attacks had in our time. I was struck by this, and when I researched the story I found many echoes with Irish history. I’m from a Northern Irish Protestant background, and have long been intrigued by the Protestant mind-set. There were strong parallels between Magdeburg and the Northern Irish city of Derry. In the 17th century both were prosperous, devoutly Protestant, and besieged by the army of a Catholic king. The big difference was that Magdeburg was destroyed, while Derry – which was besieged sixty years later – was saved. The Siege of Derry is a big part of the Northern Irish Protestant identity, so I guess I saw the story of Magdeburg as a way of exploring identity without confronting it head-on.
4.) How do you find the time to write?
Like most writers I’ve had to fit it in around the other demands of life. I’ve adapted my approach over the years, depending on whether my days were occupied with full-time employment, child-rearing, caring for elderly parents etc. If I’m working on a big project like a novel, I do try to write a bit every day – often only 25 minutes. It doesn’t seem like much, but the words gradually mount up. Because I’ve always done it like that, I suspect I wouldn’t be able to sit down and write for days at a time.
5.) What fuels your fascination with Germany? Have you ever been here?
I didn’t have any particular interest in Germany before I started writing the novel, but having read so much about the place I’m a convert! I’ve been lucky enough to go to Germany several times, and stayed in Magdeburg for a few days when I was researching the novel. A couple of years later I made use of a family holiday on the Rhine to take a trip to Mainz. Several of my novel’s characters were printers, so I wanted to see the Gutenburg museum to help me understand the process.
6.) If you could time-travel, what time period would you want to live in?
Probably the future – I wouldn’t want to go back to any time that predates antibiotics, analgesics and anaesthetics! 
7.) Write me a story in three sentences, 100 words or less.
Her mind went blank. ‘I can’t,’ she said. And she didn’t.
8). When you aren’t writing, what do you like to do?
At the moment I’m on a textile arts and crafts kick – I’ve got a spinning wheel, I crochet, I embroider… It’s for the satisfaction of making a physical artefact that I can touch, wear or wrap myself up in. It’s a way of counterbalancing the ‘in the head’ nature of both my job and my writing. I also run – slowly. I completed my first (and last) marathon a couple of years ago. I was fifth from last, but I finished the damn thing. That’s a pretty good metaphor for writing!
9.) Where can we find out more about you and your books?
I am woefully inactive on social media, so my Amazon author page is probably the best place to go.
10.) What advice would you give to a budding writer?
Read a lot, including 19th century classics. Those guys (and gals) knew how to create a gripping story. Read outside your preferred genre. Don’t worry what your mother will think of your writing. Acknowledge the things that disturb you, and write about them. Write little and often. Finish something.
 
 
 
 

Hoydens & Firebrands #histfic

RECONSTRUCTING THE THIRTY YEARS WAR

Judging by the images and the books that are popular today, can you imagine how someone 400 years from now will view our society? How will they reconstruct our day in age based on the records we leave behind? That is, if they can even access our information. What impressions will they have of our culture? continue reading…  

masterandmaid_3D