Thursday 29 January 2009


Duke Karl Frederick raced across the Library floor like a thing possessed! He found the multi volumed codex he had been looking for and opened it at the picture of a strange machine. He turned to the scruffy individual standing bewildered in the corner. The Duke made a concerted effort to calm himself. He paused and looked at the man. " Look very carefully at this illustration,are you certain it is what you saw in the castle courtyard at Saschen-Vindow?"
The man considered what lay before him, he recalled what he had seen and heard. He nodded his head gravely and with certainty. Duke Karl Frederick's countenance was seen to become ashen...


  1. I see the hand of Monte Cristo in this, I fear.

  2. I don't know, but Colonel Guderian of the Hetzenberg Horse Grenadiers has just gone into a trance...

  3. Monte-Cristo? Would we debase ourselves to *selling* the drawings, and even mere idea, of such a cumbersome and archaic contraption? So much the more as the design is public domain, according to our law (50 years after the death of the author, and that genius Leonardo left our plane so long ago...).

    Then if they don't think of it by themselves, only steam power could make this monstruosity (of doubtful interest, yet interestingly protected against missiles dropped from war balloons) move: and indeed we master the technology...
    But Tradgarland publicly tried a steam-propelled ship, so... On the other hand, it may give Duke Peter the idea of buying the patent of such an engine if his spies cannot steal the plans in Tradgarland? As it happens, we we *do* have a prototype of very improved steam engine, recently devised here by Mr. Ouatz...

    For POPP Louys and by delegation,

    Professeur Docteur Edgar Allan Lovecraft de Dunwitch et Innsmouth, Permanent Secretary of the Monte-Cristan Academy of Sciences.

  4. I fear we may be talking man-powered here I believe ...

  5. From Louys to his Brother Karl Frederick

    ‘Man-powered’? Then Tradgarland has nothing to fear. Indeed «Wow ! That ‘thing’ is impressive!» (as foreign ladies touring Monte-Cristo are often heard to exclaim – but I digress…) and the apparition of such ‘moving fort’ on a battlefield would for sure have a dramatic morale effect – but at first and only once.
    Only steam power could make this rolling oversized blockhouse to move steadily – even if entirely covered with (spiked to prevent boarding) steel plates à la Korean ‘turtle ship’): the whole would be then proof to musketry, but still hopeless against artillery. If astutely deployed and deplaced, this kind of contraption may be initially of some use against Turks, who keep their artillery behind earthworks. But such ‘land Leviathan’ would be useful (as an ‘mechanized’ version of the ‘gulai gorod’, the ‘running castle’) mainly against swarms of Tatars and other light horsemen of the steppe –if a *very flat* steppe with a *very firm* ground. Maybe also against hordes of primitive savages in some favourable areas oversea: indeed the Huguenots of Bonne-Esperance are rumoured to built mobile pillboxes of similar design (but oxen-powered) to escort their ‘treks’ inland (?).

    Now, would any Enlightened Sovereign be interested (address of our Board for Lucrative Patents available on request), Monte-Cristan mechanists are current developping several projects of lighter, faster, realistic ‘war vehicles’.
    One pattern is a steam-powered evolution of the proven Hussite ‘artillery’ war wagon, but with the protected gun at the front, the char d’assaut (‘assault wagon’) being intended to be used not as part of a laager but *offensively*, in direct support of advancing infantry. Musket loopholes on both sides for the embarked half-squad of heavily armoured ‘sturmpionere’ (the project is managed by one Herr Henschel, who disgruntled came here after his ideas were ridiculed in Berlin and Vienna) –they would disembark to clear any obstacle hindering the progression of the vehicle; a mini-organ (a brace of carbine barrels) on a swivel mount for point defense of the rear.
    A ‘flute’ variant, with a drawbridge in front and armed only with an amusette ‘en barbette’ over the rear of the passengers compartment, would safely carry the infantry forward.
    Such chars would be specially precious to cross the ‘killing ground’ when assaulting edges, lines of fieldworks, barricades, villages…

    A lighter project corresponds to a ‘mechanized’ equivalent of the jingal elephant (as lately exposed in the London War Room): a light steam-powered coach with a 2.5 pder ‘Rostaing’ in front and a giant jezzail / amusette on each side. Hopefully on good going the voiture de guerre (‘war car’) would be able to keep with the (heavy) cavalry.

    Then, Brother Mine and between you and me, it must be confessed that, in their current stage of development, the effect of such steam-powered engines of war on a battlefield would be mainly psychological, and would not survive for long the initial surprise. For that matter, some equatorial savages are said to field fierce bodies of amazons: their apparition on one of our battlefields surely would have a more drastic (if of different nature) and longer-lasting unsteadying effect. But Monte-Cristo owns neither patent nor import licence for such.

    I seize the opportunity of this message to deny with the most outraged indignation those malveolent rumours (seemingly from Waldreck: I’m every day more certain people there share a common, if illegitimate, ancestry with the Stagonians) suggesting we had this Da Vinci Code piece to appear *for free* in Saschen-Vindow: in order to entice customers (a sound, if disgusting, marketing practice) and start an ‘arms race’, with Monte-Cristo selling more and more advanced designs alternatively to both sides, keeping the momentum of the escalation. Nothing could be more abject and alien to the Monte-Cristan basic honesty and ‘peace and love’ ethos. Of course. Obviously. It goes without saying. Evidently . And all that kind of things.

    Please accept my brotherly embrace.