Hello everyone! I’ve been working on the next chapter, but since it isn’t ready, I have a nice offering instead. I have the latest work from LoneWolf, featuring Adalwolfa and Wilhelmina together. W00t!
Archive for November, 2010
I took a day off to relax a little, do some shopping in Akiba, and most importantly, get cracking on chapter 4. We’re in totally new territory now, and while I had a lot of these ideas already in mind, we are now beyond the notes I had sketched out for the manga. I hesitated doing two character stories back to back, but I realize that part of my own interest in telling this story are the characters, which is a detour for me because I am usually very plot-centric. Next chapter we will get right back into the main story arc, as the beginning of this chapter suggests. I’m torn because I don’t want to be too formulaic, but I really like introducing each character’s back story. As the cast expands however, I’m not really sure I’ll be able to give this much attention to each one. Well enough of that. Grab some sausages, pretzels and beer, we’re off to Munich!
Chapter 4: A Beer Maiden’s Story
Berlin, Prussia, German Union
12 January 1940
Wilhelmina stood in front of a map of Central Europe. The area controlled by the Tower was a menacing red spot. “Fortunately, the Tower has been very slow to expand its territory towards Germany, despite us not really having any effective way to stop it. Still, the newspapers haven’t been given the whole story.”
Wilhelmina grabbed an overlay from behind the map stand and flipped it over. This time the overlay had a large “TOP SECRET” written across it.
Brunhilde let out a gasp. Even Adalwolfa’s normally stoic face showed surprise.
The overlay told a different story. The small red blotch on the map underneath it was just a small area compared to the much larger area shown with red lines. Most of the expansion was south and east, away from the German border, but deep into Poland.
Wilhelmina continued. “The area on this map shows the area that the Tower effectively controls. The area is sparsely populated, so it has been fairly easy to keep this a secret. We’re still not sure what happens to the population within the zone, but the few scout reports we’ve managed to obtain indicate that farmers seen at a number of farms appear to be working on their fields.”
Adalwolfa interjected, “If they are being left alone, wouldn’t we be able to get in contact with them?”
“All attempts to communicate with people living in the region have still been unsuccessful.” Wilhelmina paused. “Frankly we’re not sure what is going on. The information in these reports is more than we’ve ever been able to get before. The only other curious fact is one convoy was seen loading crates from one farm into trucks.”
“You mean they came all the way here to steal our potatoes?” Brunhilde’s normally humorous demeanor was dead serious.
“No, I don’t think so Hildy. But it does seem like they are after the same things any other invading nation would be after. Aside from the farms, they have absorbed a few mines, and interestingly enough, oil wells as well.”
Adalwolfa perked up. “They need petrol?”
“It seems so. In any case the League of Humanity has decided that these Aliens, whatever their intent are going to keep expanding their territory in order to seize more resources. Because of this, they have decided to launch a preemptive strike to push the invaders back to the base of the Tower, and if possible destroy the Tower itself. Due to operational secrecy I don’t have all the details just yet. But the operation involves us, so I wanted to brief both of you. The name of the operation is Fall Weiss.”
That evening, Adalwolfa went out into the brisk cold night to walk from her classroom to the campus cafeteria. Brunhilde was already seated, eating her sauerbraten and spatzle while intently reading a book. Adalwolfa helped herself to fish and sat down next to Brunhilde.
“Hi Hildy, what are you reading?”
Brunhilde put the book down and flashed a wide grin at Adalwolfa. “The latest Mills and Boon novel.”
Adalwolfa took a bite of her fish. As Brunhilde resumed reading, Adalwolfa let out a surprised gasp, “You’re reading novels in English?”
Brunhilde nodded. “Sure, they don’t really translate many of these into German. This way I can read all of the latest novels.”
“I…I’m just a little surprised.”
Brunhilde smiled a mischievous grin and switched to English. “Oh? Maybe you thought I didn’t speak English?”
“I..I do not und…understand,” replied Adalwolfa meekly in broken English.
This time Brunhilde was surprised. “Oh, Ada, sorry. You’re so smart I assumed you spoke English.”
“Actually I only know German and French. Where did you learn English?”
Brunhilde paused for a moment, her eyes looking distant. “Actually, there is a story behind that…”
Munich, Bavaria, German Union
16 September 1935
My family has worked for many generations at the Spaten brewery in Munich. I grew up around the brewery and beer, so when I was 16 it was logical for me to start working there. Instead of working at the brewery itself, my father found me a job at Spatenbrau Bierhalle, which is run by the brewery. It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed serving beer and food. I think that is the nice thing about Bierhalles, people always go there when they are in a good mood. Every day felt like a party, and the job fit me perfectly.
Bierhalles are built for socializing, so most people sit together at long tables. There were a few tables for couples who wanted a little privacy. There was one table that had a permanent “stammtisch” sign on it. Every day, lunch and dinner, the same man would sit in the seat and order a sausage platter with a bottle of mineral water. He would sit there all day between the two meals. He had one of those leather notepads, and he was always writing in it. When I asked about it, the manager always said, “let Greta handle him, he’s a friend of the boss.”
I always wondered what kind of man would sit in a beer hall all day long and not drink beer, so I’d watch him whenever I’d have the chance. He was a middle aged man, dark hair, wore glasses, had a pretty average build and very fair. Really, there wasn’t anything particularly noticeable about him, except that he wore casual clothes every day, and only seemed to shave once a week.
I discovered the reason why Greta was the only one serving him was that he seemed to only speak English. That made me even more curious about him. What exactly did this Englishman do for a living? One day Greta called in sick and the man showed up. I told the manager that I would handle it since I had studied a little English in school. The manager laughed and wished me good luck.
I approached him and decided to practice my English. At the very least it would satisfy my curiosity.
“Hello sir, can I take your order?” I asked, in my best English.
The man looked back at me, a bit confused. He didn’t seem to know how to respond. I thought maybe my English was wrong. I slowed down and tried again.
“Hello sir. What can I get you?” I tried my best to pronounce each word carefully.
“My goodness, I’m sorry.” He replied, apologetically. “I understood you the first time. It’s just that nobody has ever spoken English to me here before.”
Hi introduced himself as William Huffington. He went on to explain that the woman that always served him asked him a question in very broken English and he never understood what she asked, so he always just nodded his head and ate what she brought him. He was a friend of one of the managers at the company, and so he came here every day to work.
William was a gentle man, with a kind voice. When he spoke his eyes were animated, and his hands moved around quite a bit. It was so interesting listening to him talk, I almost forgot about my job. I explained the menu to him, which made him even more excited. I think he thought we only served that one sausage platter. He ordered a cutlet. When I asked him about the beer however, he insisted on bottled water. Apparently that was the one part of the order that Greta understood correctly.
It happened to be a slow day, so we started talking after I brought him his food. He was a writer. He wrote romance novels for a publishing company named Mills and Boon. I had never heard of a romance novel before, so he explained that the audience of these books were mostly English middle-class women, and it was one of the few places where women writers dominated the field. He actually wrote with a female penname. He said that because books were a way for people to travel to times and places they couldn’t easily go to, as a writer he liked to travel around to get ideas for his stories. It helped him make the stories more interesting and seem more realistic to his readers, which is why his friend helped him find an apartment in Munich. He asked his friend if he could work in the beer hall, because he found that he couldn’t work well if he stayed in his apartment. That’s why a table was reserved for him.
After that day, I told Greta that I would take over serving William, much to her relief. Once in a while after the lunch rush, I’d sit at his table and talk. Some days he’d have a serious look on his face as he scribbled in his pad. On those days I left him alone. It became a regular occurrence, and after a few months not only had my English really improved, but I found myself thoroughly enjoying our conversations. Everybody at the beer hall noticed how much attention I’d give William, and it became a bit of a joke among the staff. I was 16 years old, and I really didn’t understand my own feelings. To make things more complicated, not only was he twice my age, William seemed to me to be quite inept at love. It was agonizing to me that he didn’t realize how big a crush I had developed for him.
Because we talked about them so much, William started lending me romance novels to read. At first they were from different authors, he said he was too embarrassed to let me read anything he had written. Eventually he let me read his books too. When I started my English was very bad, so my progress was very slow. I would occasionally bring the book to the restaurant to ask him to explain any difficult parts. After a while, my English improved a lot. I guess unlike at school, I was really motivated to learn.
After half a year of our beer hall romance, my feelings got the better of me. One day I asked if I could visit his apartment to borrow more books. Poor William, he was a bit naive. Bavaria is a conservative place. He was so enthusiastic that he didn’t really think about what it looked like to outsiders. I visited his apartment a few times, looking through his library of English books. They were his treasure, and he couldn’t live without them, he told me. He said that one reason he avoided moving too often was that it was so expensive to ship his books around. He had more books back in his flat in London, but even his small library (all that he could fit into a steamer trunk) was still wonderful to me.
As innocent as the visits were, neither of us considered the consequences. He was always a gentleman and nothing ever happened, but my father got wind of it and was absolutely furious when he found out. He stormed into the restaurant and dragged me out where my mother was waiting. He went back in and dragged poor William out too. William was trying to explain in English, which only made my father more enraged. Eventually the police came and sorted everything out. I explained everything, crying the whole time and the policeman, who was a friend of the family, managed to calm everyone down.
That was the last time I saw William. Apparently the police asked him to please stop visiting the beer hall, and more importantly, to stay away from me and to return to London. My father locked me up for a month before I was able to convince him that nothing had happened. Eventually he calmed down, but by then it was too late, William had left.
Berlin, Prussia, German Union
12 January 1940
Adalwolfa had completely forgotten her dinner, looking at Brunhilde in complete silence.
Brunhilde picked up her fork, took another bite of her roast. Seeing the concern of Adalwolfa’s face she suddenly perked up. “Oh, no no. Don’t worry. The story doesn’t end there. Eventually I sent William a letter, confessing my love. To my surprise, he wasn’t as oblivious as I had thought. Apparently he had feelings for me too, but was just too afraid to say anything because I was too young.” Brunhilde resumed eating in earnest.
“And?” Adalwolfa looked at Brunhilde, expectantly.
Taking another bite, Brunhilde just grinned. “And what? He said I’m too young for us to have a relationship. He said I should experience life first, maybe even love too. And once I’ve experienced all those things…” Brunhilde paused, looking thoughtful.
Adalwolfa looked even more impatient. “Please don’t make me beg. Then what?”
“Well, that he would be waiting for me.” Brunhilde let out a smile.
Adalwolfa looked at Brunhilde with wide, watery eyes. “Just like a romance novel!”
After dinner, Brunhilde walked back to her room. Once she closed the door, she opened up a chest she kept under her bed. In it was a stack of typed pages tied with twine. On the top of the stack was an envelope. Carefully opening the envelope she pulled out a handwritten letter, well-worn from repeated reading.
She read it aloud, softly, to herself, for the thousandth time.
“To my dearest Muse Brunhilde,
I never got a chance to tell you what I was writing about during my time in Munich. Enclosed please find a draft of the story. I’d appreciate your comments as always. The title of this particular novel is ‘A Beer Maiden’s Story.’ I long for the day I can complete the last chapter.
With my deepest love,
Awesome awesome new pic from LoneWolf of the original Projekt MUSE trio, Wilhelmina, Adalwolfa and Brunhilde of the German Union. I keep looking at their title and wonder if I should change it to Valkyrie Dames Battalion, but it doesn’t have the same ring…in any case, enjoy!