Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Silk and Steel

Happy fireworks weekend! I hope you’re managing to enjoy the festive spook-sparkle-tasticness of the autumnish season despite being locked down and wot not. If I didn’t lose everyone with the last nose dive into insanity then we now flip to Xander for the next bit…

Xander could smell the smoke as he opened the front door of the run down tenement building they called home.


He took the stairs two at a time, the thickening miasma fuelling his worst fears as he neared his own door.


The hallway seemed to lengthen, the adrenaline more than the distance sapping his strength.


Finally after seconds that seemed like hours he flung open the door of their room, splintering the feeble frame to shards without even bothering with the handle.


The entire place was filled with flames.


Hundreds of candles covered the floor, and every other available space in the tiny dorm.


Xander cast about him frantically for a second before realising that his friend was perfectly safe – albeit by some strange miracle – weaving and swaying unsteadily around the room and humming to himself while the smokey haze was coming from burning incense cones and not from anything that was actually on fire.


“IDIOT!” Xander screamed, seizing Vraxi by the shoulders and throwing him onto the bed. He quickly snatched the boa which had begun to singe and stamped it out before turning his attention to the candles and snuffing as many as he could at a time.


He doused the inscense cones with wet fingers and opened the window.

Vraxi laughed and rolled off the bed. “Xaaaaaan. Always sooooo dramatic!” he crooned, stumbling over the long silk dressing gown he was wearing over his clothes. “I don’t need to worry about the flames, the candles won’t burn me Xan, they love me, I’m their mouthpiece…their voice in the darkness of a world made all of dust!” He spread his arms up to the ceiling and started swaying about again as if dancing to a music that only he could hear.


“What crap are you spouting now?” Xander muttered, more to himself as he continued to snuff out the flames and clear some of the floor space. “Where have you been?” he growled, darting forwards to catch the yag as he careered to the side and almost out of the open window. “What the hell have you taken this time? Honey again?”


“Pff! Tish and pish to honey…Honey,” Vraxi giggled, trying to put his arms around Xanders neck.


“No. Stop it. Look, don’t do that.” Xander grabbed his wrists and disentagled himself.

“Urg. You are no fun at all Xaaaaan. No fun at all,” Vraxi sighed, sinking dejectedly to the floor in a puddle of lavender coloured silk. “Always soooooo up tight!” He grinned mischievously up through his long strands of untidy black and henna hair. “Ooooh, I know what will help you unwiiiiind!”


He pushed himself back to his feet and tried to reach for Xander’s belt buckle. “Don’t you want to unwind Xaaan?” he smirked, almost tripping over the dressing gown again.


Xander caught him by the elbows “Look. Stop this. Now.” He said sternly, feeling panicked and horrified and completely unsure what to do. “I don’t want… I mean I can’t… ok? I can’t… a…and I wouldn’t anyway… I would never, never take ad…”


“Never?” Vraxi frowned and stepped back a pace, feeling unsteady and confused.


“No! Of course not! What sort of a…”


“Oh.” The mischievous swirls of flame died instantly, leaving dark vacant pools. He smiled ruefully and shut his eyes; of course Xander would never want him that way, he could barely stand his company when they had to work together. He could see the disgust and revulsion in his eyes just contemplating it. Never mind. Nevermindnevermindnevermind….now where was he, getting distracted, candles…. and the music…the beautiful music that sang to his soul… he let it flood in again and eclipse that horrible yarn ball of feelings that felt like a lead weight in his chest.


Xander watched his friend slipping away from reality again as he raised his arms to the ceiling and started humming. Damn it. He hadn’t meant… well he had meant everything he’d said…it just hadn’t come out right. Stone the crows, the yag looked like a malnourished twelve year old who had been at his mother’s liquor cabinet and decided to play dress up with her wardrobe… what kind of a monster would take advantage of someone in that state?


He balled his fists as he thought of everything his friend must have been through in his lifetime before the end of the world. Eighteen years of a hell he had never spoken about, but he didn’t have to. Xander could imagine, and it made him sick to his stomach. So much so that some days he couldn’t even look him in the eye for fear the demon might burst out and annihilate the entire city on his behalf.


And he’d hurt him. Again. His clumsy words not conveying what he wanted to say, as usual… “Woah! Stop that! What the hell are you doing?” He snatched the matches away just in time to stop the curtains going up in smoke.


“Candles want it to be brighter…” Vraxi murmured, his eyes not really focussing on anything but the few flames still flickering on the mantlepiece.

“That’s the honey talking,” Xander snapped, putting the matches in his pocket for safe keeping.

“I’ve had nothing to do with any honey I’ll have you know.” Vraxi sneered, his eyes rolling as the ceiling flipped places with the floor and then back again. “Only the very purest sacraments have passed these lips tonight…”


Xander pulled a face.


“Shh! Blood…” he whispered.


“You drank blood?”


“Mm, blood from the red river…at the other church…”


“You went to church? That’s it, I’m… I’m calling the doctor…”


“He won’t come…”


“Damn it, you’re right, well I’m taking you to Bartzack then. What the hell were you thinking?”


“Bartzack is off his feet. Anyway, does it matter? My body remembers now…what happened…and why…we are not real, did you know that? We are nothing at all…just the memories of dust as it tries to rebuild what once was, re-enact what went before… but the clocks know, Xan, the clocks know the dust has got it wrong…this isn’t even how it happened but that doesn’t matter because look…look out there…the sun is dying and when its light is gone, who will we turn to to light our dark world? Hm? Not the dust, oh no!”


He gestured around the floor, “That is why we need the candles. Candles understand this, candles are ready to step forward and shine in place of our dying star… but we must keep them safe…they are so few and so fragile…”
He closed his eyes and began humming again.


“You’ve lost your mind. Candles? Clocks? Dust? Stone the crows what have you done to yourself?”


“I have sold my soul to the priestess of the evrlasting flame…” he sang, still dancing to the music only he could hear. “…in exchange for a twist of fate…”


Xander ran a hand over his face, uncertain what to do. There was an all night apothecary on bridge street but carrying this manic street preacher through the spires was not going to be a picnic. He took a deep breath. “Look, I’m going to apologise for this now…”


“Hm? Apologise for what?”


“This.”

5 responses

  1. Ooooh….thisssss.❤️ Is (almost) the stuff of all my hopes and dreams for my favourite scoundrels.😻 It’s gorgeous, heartbreaking, achingly adorable and as hot as a flaming feather boa. zonk.
    Then. The brandy soaked cherry on top…a manic street preacher ❤️Happy sigh.🥰

    💋🌹Thank youuuuuuuuu!🌹💋

    𝙐𝙧𝙜. 𝙔𝙤𝙪 𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙣𝙤 𝙛𝙪𝙣 𝙖𝙩 𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙓𝙖𝙖𝙖𝙖𝙖𝙣. 𝙉𝙤 𝙛𝙪𝙣 𝙖𝙩 𝙖𝙡𝙡,” 𝙑𝙧𝙖𝙭𝙞 𝙨𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙚𝙙, 𝙨𝙞𝙣𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙙𝙚𝙟𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙚𝙙𝙡𝙮 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙛𝙡𝙤𝙤𝙧 𝙞𝙣 𝙖 𝙥𝙪𝙙𝙙𝙡𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙡𝙖𝙫𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧 𝙘𝙤𝙡𝙤𝙪𝙧𝙚𝙙 𝙨𝙞𝙡𝙠. “𝘼𝙡𝙬𝙖𝙮𝙨 𝙨𝙤𝙤𝙤𝙤𝙤𝙤 𝙪𝙥 𝙩𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩!” 𝙃𝙚 𝙜𝙧𝙞𝙣𝙣𝙚𝙙 𝙢𝙞𝙨𝙘𝙝𝙞𝙚𝙫𝙤𝙪𝙨𝙡𝙮 𝙪𝙥 𝙩𝙝𝙧𝙤𝙪𝙜𝙝 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙡𝙤𝙣𝙜 𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙨 𝙤𝙛 𝙪𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙙𝙮 𝙗𝙡𝙖𝙘𝙠 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙝𝙚𝙣𝙣𝙖 𝙝𝙖𝙞𝙧. “𝙊𝙤𝙤𝙤𝙝, 𝙄 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙝𝙚𝙡𝙥 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙪𝙣𝙬𝙞𝙞𝙞𝙞𝙞𝙣𝙙!” 𝙃𝙚 𝙥𝙪𝙨𝙝𝙚𝙙 𝙝𝙞𝙢𝙨𝙚𝙡𝙛 𝙗𝙖𝙘𝙠 𝙩𝙤 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙛𝙚𝙚𝙩 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙘𝙝 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙓𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧’𝙨 𝙗𝙚𝙡𝙩 𝙗𝙪𝙘𝙠𝙡𝙚. “𝘿𝙤𝙣’𝙩 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙬𝙖𝙣𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙪𝙣𝙬𝙞𝙣𝙙 𝙓𝙖𝙖𝙖𝙣?” 𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙢𝙞𝙧𝙠𝙚𝙙, 𝙖𝙡𝙢𝙤𝙨𝙩 𝙩𝙧𝙞𝙥𝙥𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙙𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙜𝙤𝙬𝙣 𝙖𝙜𝙖𝙞𝙣.

    💜💜💜💜💜

    𝘿𝙖𝙢𝙣 𝙞𝙩. 𝙃𝙚 𝙝𝙖𝙙𝙣’𝙩 𝙢𝙚𝙖𝙣𝙩… 𝙬𝙚𝙡𝙡 𝙝𝙚 𝙝𝙖𝙙 𝙢𝙚𝙖𝙣𝙩 𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙮𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙝𝙚’𝙙 𝙨𝙖𝙞𝙙…𝙞𝙩 𝙟𝙪𝙨𝙩 𝙝𝙖𝙙𝙣’𝙩 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙚 𝙤𝙪𝙩 𝙧𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩. 𝙎𝙩𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙘𝙧𝙤𝙬𝙨, 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙮𝙖𝙜 𝙡𝙤𝙤𝙠𝙚𝙙 𝙡𝙞𝙠𝙚 𝙖 𝙢𝙖𝙡𝙣𝙤𝙪𝙧𝙞𝙨𝙝𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙬𝙚𝙡𝙫𝙚 𝙮𝙚𝙖𝙧 𝙤𝙡𝙙 𝙬𝙝𝙤 𝙝𝙖𝙙 𝙗𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙖𝙩 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙢𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧’𝙨 𝙡𝙞𝙦𝙪𝙤𝙧 𝙘𝙖𝙗𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙩 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙙𝙚𝙘𝙞𝙙𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙥𝙡𝙖𝙮 𝙙𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙨 𝙪𝙥 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙𝙧𝙤𝙗𝙚… 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙙 𝙤𝙛 𝙖 𝙢𝙤𝙣𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙧 𝙬𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙩𝙖𝙠𝙚 𝙖𝙙𝙫𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙖𝙜𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙨𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙩𝙚?

    💔💔💔💔💔

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Huge tentacular hugs xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Like

    November 12, 2020 at 5:45 pm

    • Oh my angel, I can’t find words enough to thank you for persevering with the ineffable mess that this show has become! – lol and also much head banging against the wall – your comments always make my day, when wp deigns to reveal them to me! Aw, I’m over the moon and back again glad that this was a little push in the right direction for you my sweetheart… I’m so so glad you want things to work out for them and hope you (and they!) can forgive me the wickedness of all the mountains in their way 😉 XD … thankyou for all your wonderful words I’m so glad you’re still enjoying the story – and super-happy you love the lil street preacher sneak at the end! XD HUGEST TENTACULAR HUGGIES BACK TO YOU MY CHERRY PIE! XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

      Liked by 1 person

      November 18, 2020 at 11:21 am

      • Aw…there’s no need to thank me at all! It’s been an utter pleasure to have shared in this story from its very start. How I loved meeting everyone and have relished every moment of their dastardly and delightful doings.🥰 I’ve rarely read a story that has taken me so much by surprise at every turn – in the most wonderful of ways. Every character is so vivid, so uniquely, utterly themselves and the words you weave around them are a joy to read. It’s farrrrr from a mess – except praps in the sort of way that peeps are messy – which makes them feel real…rather than one dimensional paper chain peeps cast to fill a role/progress the plot. I always feel that they’ve walked onto the screen fully formed; 3D folks with pasts who 𝙗𝙚𝙡𝙤𝙣𝙜 in this world. Each an essential skein of silk in the tapestry of the story. As much as I love them all, I have to admit that these two scoundrels have stolen my heart…and can’t help but hope they admit that they’ve stolen one anothers😁
        Aw…thank you! HUGEST OF HUGGLES MY SCRUMPTIOUS STRUDEL XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

        November 19, 2020 at 12:07 am

      • Penny Blake

        Oh my lovely one you have made my day yet again! I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that you ‘see’ them all – the ‘plotless mess that is life’ is exactly what I’m trying to convey (in fact Edmund has a little meta-fiction-ish line or two later on that alludes to that intention XD) so I’m over the moon that comes across and also that you like it because I’m sure a lot of people will prefer a ‘proper plot’ instead, lol. And thankyou to the moon and back for your lovely words especially about Vraxi and Xander – I won’t do spoilers unless you want them, lol, but I’m super glad you love them as much as I do. Hugest of huggies back my treasure xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

        November 20, 2020 at 2:00 pm

      • Aw…I’m so chuffed I see them as you hope❤️ I love the way you write weave your words fullstop, no matter where or how they happen my way!🥰 Oooh…citing😁 I won’t ask to be spoiled…I shall wait with breath abated and hope reaaaal hard.😻 Aww..thank you and humungous huggies back my scrumptious one xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

        November 27, 2020 at 5:50 am

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