Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Silk and Steel

Happy Friday! I hope you’re all well and good and enjoying the spooky season ๐Ÿ˜€

In this next bit we go back a smidge and find out what Vraxi has been up to while Spyro and co have been having fun and games in The Cross Keys… (I’ve put two bits together here because the second one is so very short ๐Ÿ™‚ )

โ€œYou killed my brother.โ€

Vraxi had nothing to reproach himself for here. He had done exactly as Spyro had told him, dropped off the money to Bartzak’s mother in law and given her the message verbatim.

And then, having been given no further instructions, to his recollection, he decided to attend to some rather pressing business of his own.

Agathri had been disappointingly clear that the demonsong was a loan, that it would need to be returned before the Colonel missed it and that under no circumstances was she going to cover for him on that front.

Four bottles he had, and at least two of them (possibly all four) he was going to have to use in his plot to free Xander and his demon from eachother. Ideally he needed four replacement bottles to sneak back to Agathri and there was only one place he could possibly hope to obtain such treasures without actually having to pay for them. It was a favour he had hoped he would never actually have to call inโ€ฆ

โ€œYou murdered my brother.โ€ the Sapani woman said again, her reptilian heritage flaring to the surface of her skin and eyes as she glared at him from across the table where they sat in the back room of The Valkyrie’s Nest.

There was a reason Vraxi had chosen the scarlet Hunter’s shirt that morning, and for once it had almost nothing to do with looking fabulous. Only skyship crews were permitted to drink in The Valkyrie’s Nest and the person he needed to talk to -Kejyaana Valstrom โ€“ was a Skyship Captain, of sorts.

He could, of course, have dressed as one of the many unobtrusive deck-swabsโ€ฆ but where would have been the fun in that?

โ€œI prefer to reflect on that tragic incident as your brother having fallen foul of the fickle whims of fate, Kejya.โ€ he said, laying his delicate fingers upon his chest and bowing his head slightly in a regretful manner.

โ€œYou cut him out of existence with your soul-blade,โ€ Keyja hissed, balling her great tattooed fists upon the table.

โ€œI prefer to consider the matter as a chain reaction, with myself at one end and Markov, unfortunately, at the other.โ€ He waved a hand dismissively. โ€œAnd at any rate the blade was not mine, it was on a loan soโ€ฆโ€

โ€œSoโ€ฆ you are not responsible?โ€

โ€œIf you like.โ€

โ€œI don’t like, Yag. I don’t like none of it and I like your presence here now even less.โ€

Vraxi shrugged helplessly, โ€œthen the sensible plan would be to appease me as swiftly as possible and be rid of me, would it not?โ€

โ€œOr to slit your throat mayhap?โ€ the captain snarled, but she made no move to do so.

โ€œIf you like.โ€ the yag repeated, shrugging as if it mattered little. โ€œNo doubt that would make an interesting story for the ears of Mendicci. I expect it would make no sense to him at all, seeing as you were the one to tip us off that your brother had gone rogue.โ€

โ€œMy brother was loyal to Mendicci until the day he died.โ€ Keyja spat.

โ€œStrange then that he was taking a cut of Roccana for himself before mixing the rest with brick dust and passing it on to Silk and Steel as pure.โ€ the yag said with a shrug. โ€œEither way, if you kill me now Keyja, I am certain Mendicci would smell a rat and come hunting for it, aren’t you? And we both know what he would find, don’t we?โ€

Kejya slammed her fist on the table, rattling the tankards of kvass, โ€œI never asked you to cover my back, you little street rat.โ€

โ€œOh, I know. And I hadn’t intended to, believe me โ€“ Mendicci wanted every one of your double-crossing crew dead from the top to the bottom but,โ€ he took a long draft of his drink and grinned impishly at her when he set it down again, โ€œit is as I always say โ€“ why should I stick to one plan, when another would suit me better? And it struck me in the heat of the moment that it might suit me better for you to stay alive. That is all.โ€ He added an impudent wink to the grin and for a second wondered if he had pushed the captain too far as she looked ready to leap across the table and throttle him.

But instead she glanced around at the shadowed eaves above them; for who knew where Mendicci’s little army of urchin spies might be lurking? She steadied her nerve and took a swig of her own drink, wiping her mouth on the back of her hand. โ€œWhere did you get the shirt?โ€

The yag grinned broadly, โ€œDoes it suit me?โ€ he asked โ€“ genuinely interested in the answer.

โ€œYes and no. So. What do you want?โ€

โ€œFour vials of demonsong, please.โ€

Keyja laughed out loud and took another drink. โ€œWho have you been crib-crackin,’ the duke? You couldn’t afford one, never mind four.โ€

Vraxi smiled pleasantly and sipped his own drink a little. โ€œOh I don’t intend to pay for them.โ€ he said, his eyes twinkling with tiny sparks of flame. โ€œYou are going to get them for me, Keyj โ€“ or I will suddenly realise that I was misinformed and that you were, not only involved in your brother’s cream-skimming operation, but are still carrying it on, in his memory.โ€

โ€œYou wouldn’t dareโ€ฆโ€

โ€œOh I, so would!โ€ he grinned, his eyes dancing with flames of mischievous delight as he watched the hulking smuggler captain wrestling with the urge to rip him limb from limb.

โ€œThis shipment’s all counted for,โ€ she said at last, โ€œyou’ll have to wait.โ€

โ€œPff, crates get dropped all the time!โ€ he scoffed with a nonchalant flick of his hand.

But at this Keyja shook her head and smiled. โ€œIt’s not that simple. Leave it with me, Yag, I’ll send you word when I’ve got it but it’ll be a while yet.โ€ She drained her tankard and stood up.

Vraxi frowned, โ€œHow long? I need it soon โ€“ time is of the essenceโ€ฆโ€

โ€œIs it?โ€ Keyja raised an eyebrow and smirked at him, โ€œwell then mayhap it’s in my interests to wait and see how that plays out for you? Huh?โ€ She laughed nastily and headed for the door. โ€œI’ll send word when I’ve got them. Hope you keep yourself safe in the meantimeโ€ฆโ€

Vraxi frowned and poured himself another drink from the jug. He toyed with his tankard a while as he turned over what he might do next. This was not playing out the way he had hoped. But he couldn’t see another option.

A knock at the door snapped him out of his thoughts and the barman, who looked far too pretty a rose to be wasted in a dive like this, Vraxi thought sadly, stuck his head round the door.

โ€œSorry, was wonderin’ if you’d done in here and wanting the, er, you know, the jug ‘n’ that cleared away?โ€

Vraxi gave him a sidelong smile, โ€œunless you want to help me finish it off?โ€ he asked, indicating the half-full jug and extra tankard.

The barman laughed, โ€œI wouldn’t mind but the battleaxe who runs this gaff would skin me!โ€

โ€œAh, alas.โ€ Vraxi sighed and gave a rueful little smile.

โ€œIโ€ฆ finish early tomorrowโ€ฆโ€ the barman said, throwing a perfectly mischievous little smirk of his own into the mix.

โ€œOh do youโ€ฆโ€ Vraxi began, and then remembered his promise to Edmund and his hopes that the half demon would be able to help him. โ€œโ€ฆ ah, but alas again, I’m afraid I have a prior engagement.โ€

He necked his beer and stood up. โ€œYou can find me at the Cross Keys most nights though,โ€ he added, with a wink which set the barman grinning again.

He left a sizable tip on the table and slipped quietly out of the back door and into the little back alley that ran parallel to the docks.

He should have checked.

He always checked.

Why the hell didn’t I check it was clear? He thought miserably as two jeering dock-rats held him by the arms and a third delivered Keyja’s ‘message’ by means of a series of slugs to his chin, chest and stomach while the sapani captain looked on.

โ€œYou wanna learn not to corner a snake, Yag.โ€ Keyja laughed, her reptilian heritage gleaming to the surface as she leant back against the alley wall, enjoying the show. โ€œBut you’re right, I do owe you a favour, so I’m gonna let you walk out of my skydock with nothin but a bit of a bruised ego and the wind knocked out of you.โ€

She waved for her crew to let him go and they dropped him to the cobbled ground, shoving him forwards so that he fell hard on his hands and knees in front of the captain.

โ€œWell, your kindness is incomparable,โ€ he managed, struggling to catch his breath and get himself upright again.

โ€œBut if I see your trouble makin little face around here again,โ€ she continued, โ€œOr hear you’ve breathed one whisper to Mendicci about my business, I’ll turn you inside out and hang you on a flagpole and Mendicci can ask all the questions about it he likes, savvy?โ€

Vraxi brushed the dirt off his trousers and scowled briefly at the snags and creases in his shirt. Then turned and grinned impudently at the smuggler captain. โ€œCan you fault me for trying?โ€ he asked, spreading his palms in a brash and roguish gesture designed to perfectly mask the fact hat he was shaken to the core.

Keyja snorted and turned her back on him, motioning for her crew to follow her. โ€œFolks talk, Yag.โ€ she said, not looking back at him. โ€œword is, Mendicci ain’t that happy with you right now, mayhap he’ll think kindly towards someone who puts you out of his misery?โ€


*


Vraxi sucked in a deep breath, balled his fists to his temples and tried not to panic. He had nothing left in his hand. Keyja was his last card. Spyro was already on his back about the business with Agathri, Ros seemed out of sorts with him as well. Xander wasโ€ฆ being impossible as usualโ€ฆ and soon he expected the Colonel would show up with his harpoon gun and demand recompense for his demonsongโ€ฆ

Calm your fears, do, he chided himself, your back has been against the wall enough times to know that there is always one more place to run toโ€ฆ thinkโ€ฆ what have you not tried? What have you not dared to even think about trying?

And then he had it. Oh dear. He really wished he didn’t, but he did and it was likely the most desperate, distasteful and foolhardy idea he had ever had in his lifeโ€ฆ and death.

โ€œOh well, in for a penny in for a pound,โ€ he muttered to himself as he smoothed the creases from his shirt and headed towards home. He would have to get changed; he couldn’t possibly go to church looking like this!

2 responses

  1. ‘๐˜ผ๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š๐™ฃ ๐™๐™š ๐™๐™–๐™™ ๐™ž๐™ฉ. ๐™Š๐™ ๐™™๐™š๐™–๐™ง. ๐™ƒ๐™š ๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™ก๐™ก๐™ฎ ๐™ฌ๐™ž๐™จ๐™๐™š๐™™ ๐™๐™š ๐™™๐™ž๐™™๐™ฃโ€™๐™ฉ, ๐™—๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™๐™š ๐™™๐™ž๐™™ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ž๐™ฉ ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™จ ๐™ก๐™ž๐™ ๐™š๐™ก๐™ฎ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ข๐™ค๐™จ๐™ฉ ๐™™๐™š๐™จ๐™ฅ๐™š๐™ง๐™–๐™ฉ๐™š, ๐™™๐™ž๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™–๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™›๐™ช๐™ก ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™›๐™ค๐™ค๐™ก๐™๐™–๐™ง๐™™๐™ฎ ๐™ž๐™™๐™š๐™– ๐™๐™š ๐™๐™–๐™™ ๐™š๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง ๐™๐™–๐™™ ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™๐™ž๐™จ ๐™ก๐™ž๐™›๐™šโ€ฆ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™™๐™š๐™–๐™ฉ๐™.

    Oh this is magnificent. โค๏ธ How I love spending time with Vraxi. ๐ŸฅฐHe’s such an indefatigable scoundrel…and divine drama queen. โค๏ธ

    โ€œ๐™Š๐™ ๐™ฌ๐™š๐™ก๐™ก, ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™›๐™ค๐™ง ๐™– ๐™ฅ๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฃ๐™ฎ ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™›๐™ค๐™ง ๐™– ๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฃ๐™™,โ€ ๐™๐™š ๐™ข๐™ช๐™ฉ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ง๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™๐™ž๐™ข๐™จ๐™š๐™ก๐™› ๐™–๐™จ ๐™๐™š ๐™จ๐™ข๐™ค๐™ค๐™ฉ๐™๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™˜๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™จ๐™š๐™จ ๐™›๐™ง๐™ค๐™ข ๐™๐™ž๐™จ ๐™จ๐™๐™ž๐™ง๐™ฉ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™๐™š๐™–๐™™๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™ค๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ง๐™™๐™จ ๐™๐™ค๐™ข๐™š. ๐™ƒ๐™š ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ก๐™™ ๐™๐™–๐™ซ๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™œ๐™š๐™ฉ ๐™˜๐™๐™–๐™ฃ๐™œ๐™š๐™™; ๐™๐™š ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ช๐™ก๐™™๐™ฃโ€™๐™ฉ ๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™จ๐™จ๐™ž๐™—๐™ก๐™ฎ ๐™œ๐™ค ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™˜๐™๐™ช๐™ง๐™˜๐™ ๐™ก๐™ค๐™ค๐™ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ก๐™ž๐™ ๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ž๐™จ!’
    ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ˜‚

    As marvellous as this action-packed rollercoaster ride of a chapter is…I couldn’t help but delight in Vraxi’s ever impeccable dress to excess sense of occasion.๐Ÿ˜ป I adored his flirty interchange with the barman too.

    ๐™๐™๐™š๐™ง๐™š ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™จ ๐™– ๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™จ๐™ค๐™ฃ ๐™‘๐™ง๐™–๐™ญ๐™ž ๐™๐™–๐™™ ๐™˜๐™๐™ค๐™จ๐™š๐™ฃ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™จ๐™˜๐™–๐™ง๐™ก๐™š๐™ฉ ๐™ƒ๐™ช๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™งโ€™๐™จ ๐™จ๐™๐™ž๐™ง๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ข๐™ค๐™ง๐™ฃ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ, ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™›๐™ค๐™ง ๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™˜๐™š ๐™ž๐™ฉ ๐™๐™–๐™™ ๐™–๐™ก๐™ข๐™ค๐™จ๐™ฉ ๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฉ๐™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™™๐™ค ๐™ฌ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ ๐™ก๐™ค๐™ค๐™ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™›๐™–๐™—๐™ช๐™ก๐™ค๐™ช๐™จ. ๐™Š๐™ฃ๐™ก๐™ฎ ๐™จ๐™ ๐™ฎ๐™จ๐™๐™ž๐™ฅ ๐™˜๐™ง๐™š๐™ฌ๐™จ ๐™ฌ๐™š๐™ง๐™š ๐™ฅ๐™š๐™ง๐™ข๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™™๐™ง๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™  ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™๐™๐™š ๐™‘๐™–๐™ก๐™ ๐™ฎ๐™ง๐™ž๐™šโ€™๐™จ ๐™‰๐™š๐™จ๐™ฉ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ฅ๐™š๐™ง๐™จ๐™ค๐™ฃ ๐™๐™š ๐™ฃ๐™š๐™š๐™™๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ก๐™  ๐™ฉ๐™ค -๐™†๐™š๐™Ÿ๐™ฎ๐™–๐™–๐™ฃ๐™– ๐™‘๐™–๐™ก๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™ง๐™ค๐™ข โ€“ ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™จ ๐™– ๐™Ž๐™ ๐™ฎ๐™จ๐™๐™ž๐™ฅ ๐˜พ๐™–๐™ฅ๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ž๐™ฃ, ๐™ค๐™› ๐™จ๐™ค๐™ง๐™ฉ๐™จ. ๐™ƒ๐™š ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ช๐™ก๐™™, ๐™ค๐™› ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง๐™จ๐™š, ๐™๐™–๐™ซ๐™š ๐™™๐™ง๐™š๐™จ๐™จ๐™š๐™™ ๐™–๐™จ ๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™š ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ข๐™–๐™ฃ๐™ฎ ๐™ช๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™—๐™ฉ๐™ง๐™ช๐™จ๐™ž๐™ซ๐™š ๐™™๐™š๐™˜๐™ -๐™จ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™—๐™จโ€ฆ ๐™—๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™ฌ๐™๐™š๐™ง๐™š ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ก๐™™ ๐™๐™–๐™ซ๐™š ๐™—๐™š๐™š๐™ฃ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™›๐™ช๐™ฃ ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ?

    ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿคญ๐Ÿ˜

    โ€œ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ง๐™™ ๐™ž๐™จ, ๐™ˆ๐™š๐™ฃ๐™™๐™ž๐™˜๐™˜๐™ž ๐™–๐™ž๐™ฃโ€™๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™๐™–๐™ฅ๐™ฅ๐™ฎ ๐™ฌ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™ง๐™ž๐™œ๐™๐™ฉ ๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฌ, ๐™ข๐™–๐™ฎ๐™๐™–๐™ฅ ๐™๐™šโ€™๐™ก๐™ก ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™  ๐™ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™™๐™ก๐™ฎ ๐™ฉ๐™ค๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ง๐™™๐™จ ๐™จ๐™ค๐™ข๐™š๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™š ๐™ฌ๐™๐™ค ๐™ฅ๐™ช๐™ฉ๐™จ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™๐™ž๐™จ ๐™ข๐™ž๐™จ๐™š๐™ง๐™ฎ?โ€

    Such fabulous word wrangling, my scrumptious one. I love Keyja’s take that ye olde idiom.โค๏ธ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Like

    October 13, 2020 at 1:44 am

    • Tee hee! Thankyou so so much my gorgeous pie, Iโ€™m over the moon and back again delighted that you love spending time with the little rogue! Aw, Iโ€™m so glad that youโ€™re enjoying his irrepressible spirit and his devotion to drama and wardrobe fiery to boot! XD Iโ€™m so sorry itโ€™s taken me long to reply โ€“ weโ€™ve had no internet for days and wp is still being hit and miss with how / when it will let me reply to comments! XD Thankyou from the bottom of my heart my lovely for persevering and still being here. Hugest monster hugs xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

      Like

      October 20, 2020 at 11:01 am

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