Tales from Europa 1900

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    Hi, I’ve been writing a lot of short stories and flavour texts for my rpg project Europa 1900. Since I post the artwork in my gallery I figured i might as well post some of my writing too. English isn’t my first language, though, so my grammar and syntax might be a bit clunky. If so, feel free to point it out 🙂
    Here’s the first story!
       Queen Maria was in a good mood, it had been a productive day. The war against the Shogunate was proceeding swimmingly, her agents had caused an uprising against the protestant occupants of Lisboa and the cook hadn’t actually overcooked her bacalhau for once. But now it was late, she was tired, and so she was making her way through the palace to her quarters for some well deserved rest. It was past midnight, and apart from the guards and a few servants the court was fast asleep. With a muttered evening prayer on her lips and a half full rummer in her hand she approached the door to her bedroom, and just as she was about to put her fingers to the handle when intuition struck.
       She knew the feeling, and over the years she had grown to trust it. Something was amiss, she was sure of it. The wide stone corridor was empty, there were no footprints on the thick carpet apart from her own, and save for her own calm breathing not a single sound could be heard. That meant nothing. The tense, sucking feeling of imminent peril was clearly present, and she would be foolish to ignore it. She closed her eyes, quietly prayed to her Lord and saint Adriano and carefully probed the Aether. The Astral plane responded to her soon enough. She furrowed her brow, and gritted her teeth with concentration. Slowly, like a rock pulled from thick mud she drew the Astral forces into the Mundane plane and allowed them to infuse her mind, her senses and her muscles. When she opened her eyes they found the corridor changed. The colours were dazzlingly vibrant and clear. She could discern every single fiber in the fabric of the Persian carpet, every brush stroke in the paintings lining the wall, every movement in the air from the open windows and the thousands of miniscule insects buzzing through the room, their wings all creating millions of airwaves every second.
       She emptied her glass and the wine was like a myriad flames dancing on every corrugation of her tongue and throat, rolling through her belly like a crazed fiery bacchanal. She cursed her lips, took a deep breath, and placed the palm of her hand against the door. The skin of her fingers exploded in a rush of sensations. She could feel every line in the wood, every bubble in the red paint, every minimal splinter that had eluded the carpenter’s finishing. But more importantly she felt three separate breathings ever so slightly pulling and pushing at the planks. Her smile widened.
       Maria’s day was about to end on a very satisfactory note. She gave her thanks to God and saint Adriano before silently unsheathing her rapier. The intruders must have been there for quite some time, and it would be rude to keep them waiting. She channeled the Aether from her mind to her legs, took a step back, and then kicked at the door with all her might.
       The wooden planks shattered with a deafening crack under her heel and the brass hinges were ripped out of the plaster of the wall. A surprised yelp was heard as the heavy door slammed down on a man who had evidently been listening for her. A sharp stab of pain flashed through the young queen’s foot and calf. The kick had injured her leg. Foolish. No matter. She had work to do, and there was no turning back now. She stepped into the dark room, grabbed the sprawling man by his collar and pulled him up. She could see his face by the light from the corridor. He was a handsome young lad. Blonde hair, blue eyes wide open in shock and pain, a thin moustache topped by a well formed, sharp nose. She rammed the hilt of her sword into it, and felt it crunch under the gilded metal. She let go of him, darted down and slashed at his right heel. The blade bit deep and the Achilles tendon made a satisfying snap as it severed. She smirked and hurled the screaming boy aside. He wouldn’t bother her any more.
       His comrades had risen from their hiding places. One of them, a thin man with a thick black beard flowing out from under his equally black mask now stood behind her bed with a drawn revolver in his hand. The other, a giant of a woman a few yards to the queen’s right, had pulled a broad blade from the scabbard at her hip. The element of surprise was slipping out of Maria’s hands. Time to prioritize. With Aetherium-aided speed she snatched a vase from a pedestal to her left and hurled it at the face of the bearded man. It shattered against his forehead and he went down with a pained screech. Next target. She turned to the female agent and barely managed to duck under the slash of her shortsword. Her damaged calf screamed in protest. Foolish. No matter.The bitch had one hell of a reach, and her speed almost matched her own. Maria gathered all her strength and all her Astral energy, and struck against the assailant’s elbow with her rapier. Her steel hit the assassin’s arm with a resounding clang of metal against metal. A Stahlsöldner. No wonder she was so damn big. No matter. The force of the blow had sent the woman reeling, and she would be foolish to ignore such an opportunity. She sprang forward and buried her rapier to the hilt in the soft belly of the Söldner. They’re always so predictable. They spend all those coins replacing their limbs with iron, firmly believing that it will make them invincible, but they invariably forget to protect the truly important things. Like the liver that Maria was currently grinding her blade through.
       She hurled her shoulder against the Söldner and brought her crashing to the floor. She roared in agony. Maria silenced her with a quick stomp against her windpipe, and felt it crunch under the sole of her shoe. She felt warm, sticky blood flow out from the assassin’s mouth, soaking through the fabric of her stockings. The sensation of hot wetness mingled with the now quite agonizing pain in her toes, calf, and knee. She ought to have used her other foot. Foolish. No matter. More work to do.
       The remaining agent had gotten up again. His pistol was pointed at Maria, but it was shaking in his hand. Pain? Nerves? Both? Either way, she was now staring down the barrel of his gun, and her sword was stuck under the weight of the large, dying woman. She let go of the hilt and smirked at the bearded man.
       “Stay back!” he growled in German. There was a highly noticeable tremble to his voice. Maria could see every vein in his bulging eyes, every red drop and stream of trickling from his brow into his mask and beard, mingling with sweat and tears. The man was desperate. He was going to shoot her sooner or later, no question about it. He might miss. He was clearly still disoriented, and there was blood in his eyes. Still, if she were to charge at him he would have ample time to fire at least twice. Hell, maybe thrice, with her right leg being what it was. If she didn’t want to get shot – and she certainly didn’t fancy the idea of that – she would have to change her tactic.
       “Sir, let’s be rational,” she said in her calm melodic voice, using the assassin’s native German, “My guards are on their way, they have undoubtedly heard the commotion me and your associates have caused, and no matter what action you take from here they will apprehend you.”
       The bearded man didn’t move, but he did look slightly surprised that she had opted to even speak to him. “What you have to ask yourself is this,” Maria continued, feeling the itching sensation of sweat trickling out through her forehead, “would you rather they catch you with me dead or alive?”
       His face tensed up even further, and he took a step backwards towards the window, pistol still pointed at Maria. “So what are my options?” he asked, scraping the back of his leather jacket against the wall.
       Maria cursed her lips, trying her very hardest to look amicable. “You are a businessman, you should be able to notice a profitable deal when it appears before you. If you throw down your pistol, surrender and let me know who hired you I promise on my honour as a lady of house Braganza, and as the regent of the Portuguese Empire, that no harm will come to you. I might even pay you quite handsomely for your cooperation.”
       The bearded man was silent. Footsteps were rapidly approaching through the corridor. Maria had heard them for quite some time, but now she was sure that they were audible to the assassin as well. His eyes darted back and forwards for a few moments, every muscle in his body tensed up, and for a fraction of a second Maria was certain he was going to fire. But then his shoulders slumped down and he tossed his pistol across the bed. It landed with a thud on the rug before Maria’s feet. “Very well,” he sighed, “I surrender myself to you.”
       Maria smirked and shrugged her shoulders. The hidden blades in her gilded vambraces snapped out with a metallic click, and she lunged forward across the floor, over the bed, and rammed her shoulder into the man’s chest. His sternum cracked and he fell to the floor with a throaty scream. She flipped him over on his back, straddled him, and punched the steel blades into his chest again and again and again. Every fragment of her anger, hate and Aetherial strength was concentrated into the musles of her forearms and her fists.
    “You come into my palace!” Another punch. “My own bedroom!” A punch, a stab. “You intend to murder me!” She attacked his masked face, and felt his jaw and cheekbones shatter under her fists. “And you expect mercy!” Teeth shattered by her blows, eyes punctured by the blades. “You expect money!” Collarbones snapped under her knuckles and every stab released another bubbling stream of blood. “You!” Punch. “Sir!” Slice. “WERE!” Stab. “SORELY! MISTAKEN!”
       She didn’t know how long she had pummeled the assassin, but when she looked up half a dozen of her Imperial Guard stood around her.  She looked down at the mangled corpse. It hardly even looked human.
       A guardsman offered her his hand. She took it, and stood up. Her leg was a burning agony. No matter. She couldn’t show weakness to her subjects. “The blonde one is still alive,” she gestured at the wincing youth with the broken nose and ruined calf. “Take him to the dungeons. Make him talk.” Exhaustion hit her like an lightning bolt. She had been tired before, now she could hardly think of anything but sleep. Her guards and some awakened handmaidens helped her into another bedroom. She was disrobed, and put to bed.
       “This has been a productive day,” she muttered as the heavy blankets were spread atop her limp body. She smiled, let go of the last remaining Astral energy, and finally fell into a dark, deep, dreamless sleep.
    Herr D

    End of 1rst paragraph: intuition ‘stroke.’ Struck?

    Last opponent: “, and she lounged”  Lounged means laid  luxuriously. Lunged means jumped / dove with all might.


    Thanks for the input, edits have been made.

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