Cogs, Crowns and Carriages (and Kickstarters)

Twitter Regicide and Prejudice quote 2Dear Reader

We are delighted beyond belief to inform you that our esteemed lead writer Mr Paul Michael Esq has had the very good fortune to be in yet another anthology. This time he will be in the most excellent Cogs, Crowns and Carriages Steampunk anthology (one of a pair along with Gears, Ghouls and Gauges).

Alas, though, the anthology may never see the light of day unless enough charitable folk contribute to a “Kickstarter” campaign. We implore you to consider this opportunity presented here bit.ly/SteampunkAnthos

In any event, we are excited about the imminent release and will be posting more anon.

 

 

 

The Paris Awakening: Fire Part 6

vials

“I thought they’d never go,” said Miss Henderson coming into the church with Morag and letting her off the lead.

“I thought you liked the police?” said Morag, innocently.

Miss Henderson sighed and put her hands on her waist.

“I have a very good friend who happens to be a detective, yes that is true,” said Miss Henderson. “That doesn’t mean I like all of them. Especially not with my family.”

Morag chuckled, then stopped.

“Sir John,” she said, “is something wrong?”

Sir John was sitting at the big table staring at his hands. He looked pale.

“Emile is dead,” he said. “Poisoned, apparently.”

Miss Henderson gasped and took a seat.

“Who?” she said.

“The police rather seem to think it’s Miss Bellevoix,” said Sir John. “They found her keys there.”

“That’s not proof,” said Miss Henderson, “that’s, what does Detective Symonds call it… circumcisional evidence.”

“Nevertheless,” said Sir John “we haven’t seen her for a day or two. And they want to speak to her.”

“Perhaps she’s with Marie,” said Phlebotomous, emerging from the vampires’ lair with Osvold. “We haven’t seen her for a day or two either.”

“Ah,” said Sir John, “you noticed.”

Miss Henderson glanced at Morag.

“We all sort of noticed,” said Morag. “But we didnae wanna ask.”

Sir John sighed and continued to stare in front of him.

“Mrs Jennings… Marie… has gone to find her family. She discovered that the pendant and the moondial seem to behave strangely when they are together. The compass, it points south. So Marie was following it to find out why. She thought she wouldn’t be missed because… because…”

“Emile and Sabine were still here,” said Morag. “Now one is dead and one is missing.”

“And we,” said Sir John. “We are alone.”

The room was silent for a moment.

“Poor Emile,” said Miss Henderson. “He seemed like such a kind man.”

“He was a rogue and a joker,” said Sir John. “He was a thorn in the side of professional idiots and… my friend. I shall miss him.

“You don’t think,” said Miss Henderson. “It’s not possible that Sabine…”

“No,” said Sir John. “She’s not a poisoner. I’m worried for her safety. I think she dropped the keys in shock. I hope she’s just… spending some time away. I hope she’s back soon.”

The silence returned.

“Mr Bosch,” said Morag, “Did you manage to find anything about the next key?”

“Well, it’s been a little bit harder without Sabine to translate the ancient Greek, but we have made some good progress.” said Phlebotomous.

“Oh, that’s good,” said Morag.

“Yes,” said Phlebotomous, “we’ve managed to get the list down to around one hundred possible places.”

“Ah,” said Morag.

“What’s the criteria?” said Sir John.

“Well, last time we had the Oracle to help,” said Phlebotomous. “This time we just have the notes. They’re a little more obscure.”

“…than the Oracle?” said Morag.

“There are references to aristocrats born, kings dying and doors to nowhere and everywhere,” said Phlebotomous.

“So we’re stumped then,” said Sir John.

“It’s fire isn’t it,” said Morag. “The element of imagination?”

“Yes,” said Sir John. “Why do you ask?”

“Well, as a practising alchemist of several hundred years, I may have something to help,” said Morag. “But, I’ll need a spare pair of hands.”

The Paris Awakening: Fire Part 5

hand keys prisma

Sir John sat alone in the Church of the Artists. Miss Henderson and Morag were out walking and the vampires were huddled in their lair, trying to work out where the final key piece lay. Sir John had dropped the mask of enthusiasm he had been wearing and stared vacantly ahead. Occasionally he sighed. There was a knock at the door, and he pulled himself up and walked to it, opening it slowly. Outside were two men in police uniforms.

Madame Bellvoix est-elle ici?” said the taller one.

“I’m sorry,” said Sir John. “My French is… Je parle seule un peu Francais.

Anglais?” asked the Policeman. “Parlez Anglais?

Oui, yes,” said Sir John. “Both.”

The Policeman looked puzzled.

“I am English and I speak English,” Sir John said. “What is the matter?”

“Is Madame Bellevoix here?” said the Policeman.

“Er, no,” said Sir John. “She went out… I don’t know when.”

“But she lives here?” said the Policeman.

“As much as she lives anywhere…” said Sir John. “Has something happened?”

“Do you recognise these?” said the Policeman and held up a set of keys with a fob. Written on the fob was Sabine’s name. “Do these belong to Madame Bellevoix.”

Sir John squinted at the keys.

“Maybe,” said Sir John. “I couldn’t swear to it. Did you find them somewhere? I can keep them and see if they are hers when she returns?”

The two policemen glanced at each other then spoke quickly and quietly in French. Sir John couldn’t quite keep up. The shorter man stepped forward.

“We want to speak to her as a witness to a suspected murder,” he said. “The keys were found at the scene, so we cannot let you have them. But we would like to know if you see her. Can we take your name please?”

“Yes, of course,” said Sir John. “It’s Sir John Jennings. I live in London but we are visiting here.”

“We?” said the Policeman.

“My wife and I,” said Sir John. “She’s French.”

“May we speak with her?” said the Policeman. “She may know something.”

“Er…no,” said Sir John. “She is away.”

“She will be back later?” said the Policeman.

“Not today, not… well I don’t know when,” said Sir John and looked down.

The policemen glanced at each other.

“Does anyone else… stay here?” said the short policeman.

“My maid…” said Sir John, “ and… er… some friends, some times, but they are out too.”

“May we come in?” said the taller policeman.

“It’s not very convenient at the moment,” said Sir John.

The policemen spoke quickly in French again.

“Do you know an Emile Planquette?” asked the short man.

“Yes, yes,” said Sir John. “He is a friend of mine. But he’s not here either.”

“We are aware of that,” said short policeman.

“How do you kn…” started Sir John. “Wait, is it Emile? The victim?”

“Yes,” said the short policeman.

Sir John moaned, tipped back and held on to the door frame.

“Dead?” he said.

“Yes” said the policeman.

“How?” said Sir John. “What happened?”

“We believe he was poisoned in his home, from the condition of the body. We found these keys next to his corpse. So naturally we are keen to speak to Madame Bellevoix.”

“Sabine?” said Sir John. “They were… they were very close… they were…”

“Lovers?” said the policeman.

“Something like that,” said Sir John. “I don’t believe it.”

“That she killed him?” said the policeman.

Sir John shot the policeman a sharp look. 

“That he’s dead!” shouted Sir John. “I’m sorry she is not here, but Sabine would never hurt him.”

He slammed the door on the police.

“Would she?” he said.