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.

And it’s (nearly) here

So finally, Dear Reader, we can explain all the Dreamtime Damsels malarkey. For here is the precious tome itself…

Including a story featuring the marvellous Miss Henderson as well as many stories from our friends, available Sep 25 – we heartily, excitedly and proudly recommend it.

#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour: Elevenses with Nav Logan

More Dreamtime Damsels fun…

Blake And Wight . com

rainbow keeper, put the fairy rainbow on the sky, magic ship in the dreamland, scene from wonderland,Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed ship, The Harlequin Ladybird. Yes that’s right we have escaped our dank cellar and our evil landlord (if you want to know how you will have to read our #RainbowSnippets posts on Saturdays and all will be revealed). So we are now heading the revolution in Ire from the skies – which turns out to be much safer and more fun than heading it from the ground! But never fear, we still have time to stop for elevenses! 

Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because this morning we are taking part in the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour and we are honoured to have one of the contributors, Nav Logan, as our guest for…

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Dreamtime Damsels: Character Interviews

Courtesy of Mary Woldering, some interviews from Dreamtime Damsels (of which we will explain more later) along with a recipe for lasagna and a history lesson on undergarments!

First Interviews

https://www.maryrwoldering.com/single-post/2019/07/29/Lasagnas-many-characters-Buku-Lord-Archos-Dreamtime-Damsel-1—Miss-Hattie-of-Miss-Hattie-and-the-Hoppers?fbclid=IwAR2DDsmOnEQukiEEcSZ5gXW3W7FJeSBBr2HDbK54uf77R5qIDDqrS4YCOqU

Second Interviews

https://www.maryrwoldering.com/single-post/2019/08/05/Underwear-Day-Nature-of-our-comfort-Ancient-Egyptian-underwear-3-Dreamtime-Damsels-and-Early-August-releases?fbclid=IwAR1Bt1I_zyfRWj8pz-eoMWEwPMedH8SfagXvQng5DQ2o2u73SV3PzP0FFjo

 

 

The Paris Awakening: Fire Part 4

Glove 2

“So Bisset, we have kept our end of the bargain,” said Clackprattle, throwing down the list of names on the large table. “All your terrible foes are dead.”

“Indeed,” said Bisset. “The fraternity is most grateful for your service. We will be free from the interference that scrutiny can bring. But, I have to say, you have not perhaps kept all of you bargain? There is, shall we say, a little lacking somewhere?”

Clackprattle snorted.

“We did more than your band of merry men could do. We have one piece of the key, if that trivial matter is what you are referring to,” he said.

“The very same,” said Bisset. “And whilst we understand the difficulty of the undertaking, we cannot help but feel a little… disappointment.”

“We’ve barely begun,” said Clackprattle, waving his hand. “Wait and see. Now that we aren’t distracted by your petty requests we’ll have the key in a week.”

“I’m afraid you are mistaken,” said Bisset. “We rather feel you are in fact, at an end.”

“Why you…” roared Clackprattle and pulled off the glove to reveal his corrupted hand. He started to lurch round the table to Bisset.

“Mr Pook?” said Bisset, arching an eyebrow lightly.

Pook nodded once and turned to face Clackprattle. Suddenly the fat man’s hand turned back towards his face.

“What is this?” he roared. “What is happening?”

“I’m afraid,” said Pook, “that I am not only in agreement with M Bisset, but I also have an agreement with M Bisset. We both feel you have, how shall I put it, run out of rope? And as such, you will rather have to swing.”

“But,” whined Clackprattle as his own hand locked around his throat and the terrible green depravity spread to his skin. “Pook, man, we have been companions.”

“Mr Clackprattle,” said Pook. “And please, allow me to call you mister. We have indeed been, shall we say, travelling companions. But I am afraid we have had different destinations for a while now.”

Clackprattle slumped onto the ground, his face green and aging, his hair falling, his eyes staring in confusion at Pook.

“And I am afraid that this is your final destination,” said Pook.

He stood over his former master as the last uttered a final wheezy plea before collapsing dead on the floor. A moment passed.

“Very elegant,” said Bisset. “And now that, as they say, the gloves are off, perhaps the masks can fall too?”

“Indeed,” said Pook, still staring down at the corpse. “For example, I think I can infer that you are not merely the servant but indeed the very master of this fraternity. Am I right?”

“Just so,” Bisset said. “And in return I may assume that your master, the one who gives you these remarkable powers, is not the ludicrous corpse slumped on the floor?”

“Indeed that is the case,” said Pook. “But there the mask must remain a little longer. It does not behoove me at this time to reveal that snippet of information.”

“A shame,” said Bisset. “I had hoped we might work further. The brotherhood is still most keen to capture the weapon. It is a matter of honour now.”

“Well then I can give a mixed report to you sir, and an offer nonetheless,” said Pook. “It seems that our little stone bug has left Paris and headed south.”

“Another failed ploy,” said Bisset, standing now and gathering his things. “Such a pity.”

“It means either Mme Jennings has left Paris, which would be an interesting development, or the bug has been detected and tampered with,” said Pook. “We will only know for sure if we investigate the situation where the Jennings are staying. As you have mentioned, your members are too public to carry out this kind of task. Which leaves you at an impasse.”

Bisset paused.

“Go on,” he said.

“But due to the ah, unfortunate and untimely demise of Mr Clackprattle, I am, as of this very minute, the head of a large secret society of fine, well educated men and women, I need only click my fingers and a team of anonymous investigators from London can appear,” Pook said, before looking up at Bisset. 

“That would be… most useful,” said Bisset.

Pook clicked his fingers and there was a knock at the door.

Bisset looked at the door then at Pook.

“How?” he said.

“I knew this day was coming last week,” Pook said. “I told them to arrive here right now.”

 

You can find Mr Clackprattle’s glove here and the floral background here.

via Dreamtime Damsels Blog Tour: Soup Of The Day: With Nav Logan

The Paris Awakening: Fire Part 3

keys 2

The corpse of Emile lay withered on the floor of his apartment. The note that Pook had read was dropped by his face and the room was silent. His dead hands clutched at empty air.  Dust motes circled aimlessly as Emile’s blank eyes stared at nothing, his face frozen in confusion.

There was a knock at the door.

“Emile?” called Sabine. “Emile? Let me in.”

There was a short pause and a sigh from outside. Then there was another knock.

“I know you must be there,” said Sabine. “You never get up til lunch. Open the door.”

There was another short pause and the doorknob rattled.

“I thought we had made a rapprochement,” said Sabine. “Is there something new that has happened?”

She rattled the door handle again.

“Or someone new that has happened? Are you… are you seeing someone else now, is that it?” said Sabine. “Don’t make me look for these blasted keys, you know my bag is a mess.”

There were sounds of rummaging from outside the door followed by a sound like a sack dropping and a loud “Merde!”. More rummaging followed before the distinctive rattle of keys was heard.

“Found them. I hope your new hussy isn’t there,” said Sabine. “Because I’m opening the door.”

There was the sound of a key being pushed into the lock, more cursing and the clatter of dropped keys which provoked another “Merde!”.  Finally the door was unlocked and swung open.

“Is she pretty?” said Sabine marching into the room, looking furious.

She looked around, slightly puzzled then looked down to see the corpse at her feet. The keys dropped from her hands and she stared down at the body. For some time she stood motionless looking down and then she made an unearthly, low keening sound. She fell to her knees and her hand went over her mouth. She gasped for air like she was drowning and her eyes looked up for a moment before staring back down at the remains of Emile.

“No,” she sighed. “No.”

“No, please no,” she said louder, then like a prayer, “no no no no no.”

Her hands left her face and held the frail head of Emile, she stroked the remaining hair.

“Why… why you… why you?” she whispered. “Why you?”

She keeled over and held his head to her chest. Lying on her side and clutching Emile to her she made a guttural sound in her throat. She then emitted a series of rhythmic sobs.

“We would have been so good, my love,” she whispered. “We would have made such magic, such poetry, such beauty. We would have lived a life so wild and vivid.”

Sabine’s eyes closed and she moved no more as tears trickled down her face. After a little while like this, she disappeared.

The Paris Awakening: Fire Part 2

moondial necklace prisma

Sir John looked at Marie. He was feeling exhausted and a little anxious from the encounter with the Walrus and had not yet had a chance to speak to Marie. He’d noticed she’d been preoccupied with the pendant and the moondial she had acquired and had barely met his eye.

“What is it?” said Sir John nervously.

“I think I have figured this out,” said Marie, holding up the moondial and the pendant. “You see they have the same stone, and when they are together the compass behaves strangely.”

“I see,” said Sir John, who was thinking it wasn’t just the compass behaving strangely.

“It points south,” said Marie. “When they are together. Not north”

“Maybe that necklace is a little magnetised?” said Sir John.

“No I checked,” said Marie. “No matter where I place the necklace, it always faces south. Do you see?”

“I see,” said Sir John, who didn’t.

“You know what I think this means?” said Marie. “I think it is pointing to my mother, or a connection with my mother, somehow. The necklace and the moondial are from my family.  And the moon… not a sundial, you see? I think it is a way to find them.”

“But Marie, your mother is dead,” said Sir John. “You said your aunt told you.”

“She said many things,” said Marie, “not all of them true. She was not even my blood relative, that was my uncle. The Walrus said, well, it implied she might be alive, that my aunt might have lied.”

“You think the Walrus told the truth?” said Sir John.

“It said that it told, what was it, emotional truths?” said Marie. “I don’t know, but I know that there is a chance she is alive and this could lead to her. Don’t you see mon cher, this is what I have been looking for. A way to find out who I am.”

“But what about Clackprattle, and, and Pook and the key and everything?” said Sir John.

Mon cher, we have most of the key now, and there is Sabine and Emile and the others,” said Marie, “and… you. You won’t need me for the rest.”

“You want to go… alone?” said Sir John.

“No of course not,” said Marie, “but you are right, it’s better for you to stay because of the situation. But for me, I have to go, I have to find if she is still alive.”

“Well, if you’re sure you don’t need me to go…” said Sir John.

Pff,” said Marie, “I am a French woman in France. What could be safer? I’ll be fine. I’ll just follow this lead and come back as soon as I can. You won’t even notice I’ve gone.”

Marie headed to their living area excitedly. She whistled a popular tune under her breath. Sir John watched as she started piling up clothes with wild abandon and little apparent discernment. She picked a suitcase and threw the clothes in, before sitting on it to close it. 

“If you’re sure you don’t need me,” said Sir John again quietly.