Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

#WritingWednesday: In The Cities of Cloaks And Daggers

Happy Wednesday! I’m using Wednesdays to share some short bursts of the stories I’m working on… because that way, I figure, I’ll be motivated to keep working on them

Right now (besides the Smith and Skarry adventures, which get quite enough attention in my other posts) I’m working on an LGBTQIA+ Mythpunk standalone novel called In The Cities Of Cloaks And Daggers whose central themes are identity, voice and power.

It’s based in a world where Time grows like grass and is harvested, where people of the four cities – Gnarl, Ash, Slain and Caligari – wear their whole lives on their backs in the form of patchwork story Cloaks. Those who don’t have a Cloak, have no clue as to who they are. Those who have Cloaks guard them jealously for fear of the desperate Daggers who would steal them for themselves.

The novel is divided into four books – The Book Of Bujo (which btw is a complicated word whose closest meaning would be heist/ joke/ prank/ trick), The Book Of Scales, The Book of Feathers and The Book Of End – but in the opening the reader finds themselves in a burned down library where the pages of all these books have been scattered, charred and disarrayed across the floor so the narrative has to be pieced together in fragments and the time line dawns slowly rather than being obvious from the start.

It’s ambitious, I’m scared about failing at the vision I’m aiming for, but I love pushing the boundaries of what I can do and I’ve done similar things with short stories so I really hope I can make it work, let’s see… This is the next extract, you can find the previous part here:

Victorian Steampunk Plague Doctor Assassin


The next part of the story moves on from the book of scales and the crew of the landkite’s perspective to the book of feathers and some different characters entirely… maybe…



“The City Of Slain was built from the blood, sweat and tears of the dryad forces of The Forest Of Aeon when they dared to march on the Children Of Kalash and Ullna, back in the Ash Dynasty at the end of the Poet Wars.”

Such were the little tidbits of happy knowledge meted out to the slaves of the Garnet Heart at the change of every Celestial Face, marking the time of Work Ending or Work Beginning.

Trikashi had no idea what a dryad was, if you’d told them it was a tree spirit the 105120000 step-old child still would have been none the wiser, but they figured there must have been a fair few of the buggers slaughtered for that to be true. And it puzzled them.

“In The City Of Slain, The Honey Caste see all with their eyes of smoke, and purge all secrets from the darkness with their tongues of flame, the shadows they cast are monstrous and will devour all who trespass beyond The Boundary. Only the great and the wise can cast such shadows.”

Trikashi knew all about the demons of The Honey Caste, who didn’t? What they wanted to know was why these legendary rulers, Bright Kalash and Silver Ullna incarnate, could only lay claim to one measly monstrous shadow, when they, little Trikashi of The Garnet Caste, nail-bound slave to The Heart, had six. It was another thing which puzzled them.

Trikashi collected puzzles as other children might collect seashells, stamps or teddy bears perhaps. It kept their mind occupied and away from the stench, pain, fear, misery and degradation of their everyday existence. It stopped them falling asleep as their bare, blistered feet trod the wooden slatted wheel which turned the mechanism of The Machine, and plunging down the 600ft drop into the gears. Trikashi had been nail-bonded at 70080000 steps-old and since then they had counted 1,754 bodies go spiralling down that shaft ; they rather prided themselves they were better than that.

Trikashi’s favorite puzzle was Time. Time seemed to be a conundrum their quick little mind just couldn’t figure out. Each Work Beginning, a bell sounded deep in The Garnet Heart, the slaves rose and assembled in the gallery to eat and priests appeared carrying the sacred Celestial Face of Karash. They recited the latest revelation, and then took down the sacred Celestial Face of Ullna and put Karash in her place. Then the slaves would go to their posts at the machine and remain there until the bell sounded again, marking Work Ending.

When Trikashi was first nail-bound, they had tried to measure the space between Work Beginning and Work Ending in steps. Steps were a convenient unit of measure because they had to make them constantly on the wheel anyway, might as well, they thought to themselves, contrive a little purpose to the affair. But now, after 35040000 steps of calculation, still Trikashi was no closer to fathoming just how long a ‘day’ might be. It seemed to change. And it puzzled them.


There you go, I hope you enjoyed reading the next little extract and thankyou so so much for taking the time to read along and for all your kind ‘likes’ and words of support and encouragement- they keep me going! 🙂 What are you writing at the moment? Feel free to share links to your own works in progress or Writing Wednesday posts in the comments 🙂

Blessings on all your writing endeavours!

5 responses

  1. Time being counted in steps is a fascinating concept. Trikashi collecting puzzles as other children might collect seashells, stamps and teddies is searingly poignant. Particularly in distracting them from the stench, pain, fear, misery and degradation of their everyday existence. It’s such a rich, evocative description. The entire snippet is steeped in the hopeless abasement of their situation and yet, they seem heroic in their struggle, rather than belittled by their servitude.❤️Their stoicism seems admirable, rather than defeatist. I particularly love the last paragraph, how their very measurement of time seems to shift beneath their feet.

    But now, after 35040000 steps of calculation, still Trikashi was no closer to fathoming just how long a ‘day’ might be. It seemed to change. And it puzzled them.

    Wonderful. I can’t wait to see what comes after ‘puzzled’…it’s such an understated word, yet somehow perfectly fitting for the Trikashi. Another puzzle to occupy their minds, rather than a tool of oppression. I loved it, thank you for sharing 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    December 11, 2019 at 7:55 am

    • smithandskarry1

      Thankyou my lovely! 🥰 It took me a long while to come up with the time as steps concept (lol it’s no secret I’m a very slow thinker! 🤣) to create the impression I was going for so I’m super-super glad it worked! And also that little Trikashi’s punk verve personality shines through as I’d hoped it would! ‘happy dance’ 😁Aw you’re welcome I’m so glad you’re enjoying it – it means a lot that my crazy ramblings make sense to someone other than myself, lol – thankyou as always for being awesomely you! 🥰🥰

      Liked by 1 person

      December 11, 2019 at 3:09 pm

      • Aw…you’re welcome🥰 It was worth every step of the way to rustle it up 😁 It worked beautifully, I loved it❤️ Oh it does! It’s fabulous, I adored their punky spunkiness. Oh, they’re fantastic and they make perfect sense to me (um, that’s supposed to sound reassuring 😝) But they’re brilliant…as are you. Aww…I’ve gone all daft now…thank you. Tis a sentiment returned tenfold❤️🥰

        Liked by 1 person

        December 11, 2019 at 4:46 pm

      • smithandskarry1


        Liked by 1 person

        December 12, 2019 at 2:09 pm

      • 🌹🥰🌹

        Liked by 1 person

        December 12, 2019 at 4:27 pm

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