This is history but slightly changed. 90% of the people used in this story are real people from around this point in history, but they had never met until right now. This is a work of fiction based around some real events and real people. It is rate MA. I hope you read and enjoy and if you like it, please comment. Now Part 1 is long but that's just something you'll have to deal with, and I've tried something new with the formatting. Let me know peoples :)
Buckingham Palace, November 1877
Queen Victoria looked down her nose as she sat on her throne. On bended knee before her was the former Empress consort of France, Eugénie de Montijo whose curtsey was starting to waver.
“We are not amused.” stated Queen Victoria.
“Was not my intention to am…” Eugénie looked up and then looked back to the floor, almost forgetting her place. She and her son were guests of her majesty, who had kindly let them in after the death of her husband Napoleon III last year; royalty in exile from their native France.
Eugenie stood before the powerful woman in black, her unsmiling face almost made of stone.
“There was talk that your son were to marry my youngest” The Queen stood making Eugénie once again follow royal protocol and curtsey again “What say you on this?”
“Louis is an imperial prince your majesty,” said Eugénie as she followed the Queen as she traversed the throne room.
“I know your genealogy!” she snapped as she halted “Why is he good enough for my baby/”
“He is enrolled at the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich destined to follow in the footsteps of his great-uncle Napoleon”
Queen Victoria glared at the former empress, her gaze causing Eugenie to cower at its ferocity “That little man cost the lives of many a good Englishman. I would watch your tone and your reverence”
“Majesty” she bowed deeply and sincerely
“If your son believes he is good enough, he shall head to Africa once he has completed his schooling” said the Queen “The Zulu have taken umbrage by latest reports by Sir Henry. When does Louis finish?”
“Next year your majesty”
A small, miniscule smile almost escaped her lips “Good. That will be all”
I hope this letter finds you well.
I have spoken to our host and benefactor, her majesty Queen Victoria. The marriage of you to her daughter Princess Beatrice Mary seems upon the horizon. I know you have been writing her and have grown close these past months.
But my son, I honestly believe the Queen wishes you dead! Upon completion of your schooling she is sending you to Africa, presumably to be blooded in battle and return a hero for her daughter, but I fear it may be more sinister. I have no proof, nor would I ever dream of mentioning this but as I have a terrible feeling about this. Call me a superstitious old woman but I fear the dark continent bodes ill for you.
I have sent word out for a bodyguard for you to protect you from the savages. I know you are a brave and excellent soldier but it will make me feel better if you are escorted with an entourage befitting an heir to Napoleon Bonaparte. There is talk from Paris that you will be crowned Napoleon IV and restore the Empire. With your ties to the British throne from your marriage to Princess Beatrice, it shall come to fruition!
I wish you well in your studies
Empress Consort of the French, Eugénie de Montijo
Southampton Docks, November 1878
“Gateway to the Empire!” whistled an American as he looked around the busy and bustling place “If this is the gate, hate to see what’s inside the fence”
“So many people” remarked an Irish man with a strange lilt in his voice as he heft a large steamer trunk “Back home there’s this many people in the entire country”
“And where is home?” asked the American
“Atlanta Georgia,” he replied “Dallas Texas, Denison Texas, Cheyenne Wyoming, Dodge City Kansas, lots of different places. John Holliday,” he extended his hand “People call me Doc!”
“Edward Kelly, most call me Ned.” the handshake was returned.
“Excuse me honourable gentlemen,” the voice was soft and deliberate “Are you also here for the bodyguard position?”
Ned and Doc turned to the small Asian man dressed in traditional garb, whose arms looked like they were moulded steel.
“Who’s asking?” said Doc defensively looking the man up and down.
“Muk Yan Wah” he placed his left hand fist into his flat right palm and bowed “Pleasure to make your acquaintance”
“Met a few of your kind in the goldfields back home” said Ned scratching his big beard “First one I’ve met who can speak”
“We Chinese are full of surprises” Muk smiled “Is there anyone else?”
Smoke appeared from nowhere near the trio’s feet quickly rising and making a large black cloud that surrounded them. When the smoke cleared a thin man in a fine suit, a neat but full goatee and intense brown eyes stood before them. Ned and Doc had their pistols out and up, Muk had jumped into a fighting stance. The man merely stared at them with his strange unblinking eyes.
“I believe you were expecting me!” he said, his voice full of mystery and a lovely blend of French and German accent “I am Herrmann the Great!”
“Sneaking up like that will get you killed!” stated Doc waving away the last of the smoke “Drive a man to drink with tricks like that!”
“I do not perform tricks” stated Herrman staring unblinking at Doc who pulled out a hip flask.
“Thank you gentlemen for responding to my mother’s letter” A handsome young man strode up to them in a pristine military uniform, sabre by his side. “My name is Louis Napoleon. You are to be guarding me on my travel to Africa. If you’ll follow me, my boat is this way”
Please give my regards to her majesty Queen Victoria, also to the lovely Beatrice. Please pass onto Beatrice that I have written her as well and hopefully my letter finds her soon.
Now mother, whilst I thank you for your concern, these…words almost fail to describe the motley crew of miscreants, deviants, almost sub-human malcontents you have arranged to be my bodyguard on this trip to Zululand! I am more likely to be knifed to death in my sleep by THEM than any savage.
I shall write you again whence I am in a better frame of mind.
HMS Olympus, Atlantic Ocean, December 1878
Louis stood on the deck of the ship looking out across the waves as he puffed on his pipe. The trip to Africa was long, not much to do but walk the decks, write letters and smoke as they seemingly inched closer to where his destiny lay. He turned to see his bodyguards standing behind him. Louis hand went for his sabre.
“Stay your hand your majesty!” uttered Herrmann waving his hands dramatically as if casting a spell “We merely thought that after nearly a month, you may like to know who will be protecting you”
Louis eyed the four of them suspiciously, wondering if they were planning to dump him over the side in the dead of the night. Doc pulled a square bottle from his coat and wiggled it playfully.
“Best thing to come out of Scotland” he laughed “Care to join us?”
Louis slammed his glass down onto the table “I do not believe you monsieur Holliday!”
“Well your majesty, as is said back home either squat or get off the pot?” quipped Doc as he took another shot of scotch, adding it to the small wall he was slowly hiding himself behind.
Ned stroked his beard and quietly folded as Louis smiled and pushed all his tokens into the centre. Herrmann looked around at the others.
“Seven hundred monsieur” said Herrmann dramatically as he waved his hand over the deck.
Doc grabbed another shot before casually shoving all his chips in “Call”
Muk looked at his cards “I do not understand this game” He pushed his chips into the middle “But since you all have done so, so will I”
“Ha!” Louis dramatically threw his cards onto the table with four 10’s and an ace.
Doc looked at the cards, knocked back another shot and casually tossed his cards onto the table “I believe mine, your majesty, has more heart” A 7, 6, 5, 4 and 3 of hearts of hearts glared up “Straight” Doc reached out to grab the pot when Muk’s hand shot out and grabbed him by the wrist with lightning fast speed.
“Does this beat yours?” Muk revealed a royal flush of diamonds. Herrmann applauded as Doc’s jaw dropped.
“Well played China man” said Ned as he poured himself another scotch.
“My name is Muk. Not China man”
Muk sighed “Perhaps you should call me Woodman, since you have trouble with my name”
Muk sighed again and stood up “Mr Kelly, if you would please” He motioned to Ned who shrugged and stood up “Please pick up your chair from the back” Ned rolled his eyes and obliged.
“Now what?” asked Ned
“Quiet, please” said Muk as he gripped the air, flexed his muscular forearms and took a stance. Herrman watched attentively as did Doc and Louis.
“HEEEEEEEE-YAAAAAAA!” Muk screamed as his hand lashed out and broke the chair in half. Ned stood there a little shocked and confused as Herrmann stood and applauded.
“Amazing!” said Herrmann “What a display! You must show me how you do that”
Muk bowed respectfully “Perhaps my friend” He turned to the others “Goodnight gentlemen”
“Woodman” nodded Ned as he picked splinters from his beard.
“So how did my mother manage to get in contact with all of you?” asked Louis as he got comfortable in his chair as the ship rocked backwards gently on the waves.
The Bricklayers Arms, Dover, December 1877
Empress consort of France, Eugénie de Montijo hurried into the old tavern under the cover of darkness. Though it was nearly midnight, the pub was full of patrons mainly sailors and farmers and ruffians, escaping the bitter cold. The sound of skittles being played echoed through the pub, along with cries of joy and those of anger.
“You look lost?” A young man stepped from behind a group of drinkers. He was a striking figure, a half-caste possibly Indian, well built.
“I am looking for a whale?” replied Eugénie
“Ahhh well, you may call me Ishmael” the man smiled and ushered her to a table “Would you like an ale?”
He clicked his fingers at the bartender and sat down “So you what can I do for you my lady?”
“I am Montague Gurung formerly of 4 th Prince of Wales's Own Gurkha Rifles” he stated “I understand your problem and though what I do, could be considered treason, it is a greater crime that my birth country is ruled by a white woman from this country!”
A sailor looked down on Montague “Aye, whad joo say bout er majesty yoo darky?”
Montague shot up from the table, grabbed the man by the throat and slammed him back onto the table “I said, you fish smelling dullard; my birth country is ruled by a white woman from this country! Are you deaf and simple?” The man struggled but Montague kept his arm pressed tight across his throat “And does somehow the slight tinge of brown in my complexion make me any less English than you, you Welsh bastard!?”
“Release him!” ordered Eugénie “Now!”
Montague scowled at her and then back at the sailor “You are very lucky. If you wish to continue this I shall wait outside but know this,” He tapped the handle of an ornate blade at his hip “I am a gurkha! Once my blade is drawn, it must taste blood before it is sheathed again” Montague stood and threw the man to the floor before taking his seat “How can I help?”
Eugénie was a bit flustered by the commotion but soon regained her composure “Across the Empire, there are stories of brigands who work for pay. I wish you to recruit some men to protect my son when he travels to Africa late next year”
“Just wave your purse her” smiled Montague
“No, no English” said Eugénie as she took the brandy that was handed to her “They are untrustworthy in matters such as this, present company excused”
Montague laughed “Well I’m only half English; who did you have in mind?”
Eugénie spread out on the table four pieces of paper. Montague whistled “America, France, China, Australia! This will cost you”
Eugénie tossed a bag onto the table and slowly stood “In there is enough gold to start a small war monsieur Gurung. Use it wisely to hire those who will protect my son”
“What if I take this and run off?” asked Montague
“Then I will shoot you in face!” stated Eugénie as she revealed a derringer from her purse and pointed at him “I hired you because you are a gurkha monsieur Gurung, don’t let me down. Au revoir!”
I hope this letter finds you well. Reports have come in from Africa that over two thousand troops have been killed by the savages at a god forsaken place called Isandlwana, the area where our benefactor has sent you! I do honestly believe she is engineering your murder by hiding it in a war!
In regards to your bodyguard; they are the best money can buy and they are experts in their fields. They may lack class and breeding but I hired a bodyguard and not an entourage to amuse you.
Beatrice pines for you, much to her mothers chagrin.
Empress Consort of the French, Eugénie de Montijo
To be continued