Steampunk Diaries – July 14th, 1878

Steampunk Diaries – July 14th, 1878

The last fortnight or so has seen some interesting sites and experiences. The wagon ride from Klausenburg to the remote farm in charge of my fields took nearly three full days. We accomplished about 75 kilometers during that time.

Situated as it is on the edge of some small mountains, many of the locals have vigorously turned from farming to mining. Having a good source of Iron was important during the war for the manufacture of cannon and every source was exploited to it’s fullness.

With the need for iron and steel not so great, many of the young men here will go back to farming. The land requires little work to grow grains or corn. Livestock consists of mostly goats and swine which thrive well in this climate.

A day and a half after my arrival, Madam Ioana Munteanu was found dead in her barn. Her husband reported that she had seemed a bit stiff that morning but thought little about it at the time.

With the customary three days of day and night vigil over the body, and the mourning meal where the whole village turns out, Madam Munteanu was put to rest and a simple stone erected to mark the location of her grave.

Having observed these customs first hand and partaken of a portion of sarmale myself, I decided to stay the night in the village and eagerly accepted the pastor’s invitation to a bed and intellectual conversation in his nearby cottage. This was carried out in that modernized Roman language, being one that we both had in common. My Slavic languages being weak, and his European ones being as bad.

Towards morning, soon after the cock began to crow, the caretaker came pounding and shouting upon the door. My host sprang to see what the poor man’s shouting was. Within a short time, he came back telling me in Latin, that the new grave had been desecrated.

With the purpose of a man about to enter battle, he donned his vestments and marched into the graveyard. I followed behind to lend a hand if possible and see the miscreantants brought to justice.

But to our horror we found the grave not only desecrated, but the body missing! The Pastor roused the caretaker to fetch some help among nearby citizens while the two of us examined the scene for more clues.

In a fit of reasoning from that school of thought recently popularized by Mr. Holmes himself, we found not one sign of a shovel or marks other then a single set of woman or child sized impressions leading away from the grave. The wooden box still laid at the bottom, it’s top broken crudely rather then removed. The culprits, if any, had not been kind to the poor woman.

Suppressing a fear for the worse, I failed to voice my knowledge of a similar event some years past. The Pastor would not have believed me anyways as we had plainly seen the poor woman dead only yesterday and with our own eyes. Nothing less then the whole village would be able to back him up.

Never less we repaired to the cottage again for a simple breakfast. I ventured to broach my fears with him over a piece of toast and some warm tea.

“Sir, do you read Latin?”

“I do indeed,” was my reply. He nodded at my assent, went to a book shelf and brought back a worn leather tome. Turning the thin parchment to a point halfway in, he showed me a diary entry dated about February 18, 1523. The common Gregorian Calendar not being in use at the time, I had to mentally figure the date.

What I found astounded me. Eradica mortuus pedites, or the walking corpse. The details of the entry matched perfectly the news I had heard while in Africa. The simple pastor looked at me with saddened eyes and cursed softly in his native language.

“That is merely the oldest case my predecessor knew about. It happens in this area every fifty years. I was hoping that God would spare me this test of faith. But I now see that my pride has been punished.”

“My friend,” I said, “if God means this to be a test for you, I will willingly take it upon myself to be at your side.”

“I thank you Sir, let us find Madam Munteanu and hope she has yet to cause much damage.”

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