Monday, October 22, 2012

Stolen secrets

Versailles, 24th November 1713

Marquis of Vilana was happy, on that day. He went down the streets of Versailles, unconsciously whistling while heading to the small palace that once had hosted Princess Elisenda --a building that now had become the central headquarters of Catalan diplomacy in Europe. A recent letter from Lord Dalmases, their Ambassador in London, was behind the evident happiness of our good Marquis: the new king George had summoned them for a formal audience.

When he reached the palace, however, he realized with surprise that the front door was oddly open wide. One of the front windows glasses were broken into a thousand pieces. Alarmed, he climbed the stairs two by two, while a confused butler hurried on to meet him: --Sire, oh Sire, what a disgrace!

Muted, the Marquis crossed the threshold, closely followed by an ever lamenting butler, and went to the place of dislocation: his own deskroom, where a bleaking outlook was awaiting him. It was as if a hurricane had devastated the room: drawers thrown violently to the ground, scattered papers, a broken pipeline on the Persian rug, books with torn pages, lying chairs... all lying on the ground in chaotic disorder, stirred by someone embedded in a devastating fury.

The Marquis then had an ominously bad feeling, so that his gaze went quickly toward a spot in the wall where a painting should be hanging. The canvas lying on the floor, the wall behind revealed a hidden cavity, where the Marquis used to store State secrets in a safe chest. The coffret had been forced and emptied of its contents.

Vilana turned pale: the contract and payment orders to the corsair ship carrying Princess Elisenda had disappeared. He then understood who had perpetrated the attack: agents of King Philip, no doubt. And now they would know the whereabouts of Her.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

State of war

[My most sincere apologies for my incapability of keeping a regular pace at posting on this blog, I've been thrown into a frantic life lately --permanently fighting against the odds to carry on my projected miniatures company. Always afraid of what else can go wrong, or what else won't be finished as scheduled, or who else will deceive expectations... Hard to be a newly born enterpreneur amidst a wholly troubled country, if you know what I mean. Such frenzy has even affected my biorhythms --I had never before suffered from insomnia, but now it's becoming a habit. As a result of all this, the calm moments necessary to continue weaving my stories are becoming more and more hard to find. I'd love to keep the rythm and speed compulsory for keeping it all alive --but I'm afraid not to be able to. Still, I'll try!]

[On the other side, I must admit that in nowadays' Catalonia it has become difficult to abstract yourself from "real life" and imagine tortuous fictional storyboards, while that very same "real life" is in fact offering everyday lots of quite more thrilling and scaring stories... Looking no further, yesterday a Spanish Army Colonel demanded for Catalonia to be put under state of war ("estado de guerra", he literally said), to prevent our secession from Spain. If I'm not wrong, this is the third Spanish high officer claiming for military action against us Catalans since September 11th, our National Day --and no one in the Spanish Government has disavowed him yet. There's no chance of such becoming real, I believe, but it's still an effective war of nerves, for many of us are old enough to recall the frightening 1981 military putsch.]

["OK men", I should say, "let's extract ideas for our Imagi-Nations from the real life, then"... But, after a little thinking, I've plainly discarded it. There's too much surrealism in nowadays Spain's politics for a plot based on it to become likely. Better to keep our own, original storyboard. So that... allow me a few hours and I'll draw something for the story.]

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

The Bay of Biscay

Bayonne, 23rd November 1713

When the corsair brig carrying Princess Elisenda sailed into the Bay of Biscay, a strong storm forced them to seek refuge. Due to obvious reasons, the harbour of Santander was not an option, so they headed back to Bayonne. Along their way numerous Spanish galleons were met but, as they were quite busy seeking a safe haven too, none did pay much attention to them --so they sailed undisturbed. However, Princess Elisenda got worried enough to share her fears with Claire Baizanville and the brig's captain.

--Certainly, I noticed it too, and was disturbing indeed --Claire said.

--They were scattered, but they all seemed to follow a similar route --the captain explained--. I bet it was a single fleet that, surprised by weather, could not avoid losing formation. I guess each one is now looking for any safe haven between Bilbao and Santander.

Claire did not respond, but once their ship had safely anchored in Bayonne, she hurriedly apologized and went away without a word throughout the day. She wouldn't board again until dusk --and she looked pretty serious. When anxiously questioned by Elisenda, Claire tried to look reassuring: --Do not worry, princess. They are'nt seeking us, they even have no idea we're here, so close to them.

--So?

--Well... it seems that, in compliance with the Treaty of Utrecht, King Philip ought to evacuate His troops in Flanders. And He has decided to do it right now, before winter is come. So in an hurry He seems to be, that all available ships in the Atlantic have been committed to this mission.

Elisenda stood silent for a moment, pensive: --I can recall that King Philip I was holding no less than 12 line infantry regiments in Flanders. Are all of them being evacuated?

Claire nodded: -Most of them. Apparently, there's only one left; most probably, this is the one reserved for garrisoning the principality eventually assigned to Princesse des Ursins. A confidant passed me the whole list, here you are it.

Princess Elisenda couldn't reprime a sigh while reading: --Storff, Bournonville, Coupigny, Treffer, Pasfeuquières, Scepeaux... That makes a total of seven Walloon, one Spanish and one botifler regiments, plus the Walloon Guards 2 battalions still remaining in Flanders, horse troops, artillery, engineers... Easy to imagine what is King Philip going to do with them when spring is come, right?

Claire simply grimaced.