Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Silk and Steel

Eep, so sorry I missed a week last week – things got in a bit of a tiz! XD – hoping you all had a fabulous week and wishing you all a marvellous weekend…

Despite the fact that his unconscious charge was as light as a feather, it still took a good thirty minutes to dodge and weave his way through the backstreets and gunnels from the cinders to bridge street, trying to avoid the main streets where every drunk and his mother thought them a fine sight to test their dubious wit against.


The apothecary shook her head in disgust when he explained the situation. “Other Church!” she spat; and crossed herself forwards and backwards and washed her hands in a bowl of salt water on he counter. “Bring him though, put him on the couch.”
She took a handfull of black charcoal from a barrel and added it to a pestle and mortar with more salt solution then lifted the yag’s lids and peered into his eyes. “Blood and Demonsong.” she said, matter of factly. “For the blood, he drinks this. For the Demonsong…” she shrugged “…listening to that affects everyone differently. Some get their wits back, some don’t. You’ve seen the street preachers?”

Xander nodded.

“Well…was it his first time?”

“I… I think so…”

She heaved herself upright again and handed Xander the mortar and a metal pail. “For when he brings the blood up.” she explained, and left them to it.

“Here, sit up, you’ve got to drink this” Xander said, trying to coax his friend into a sitting position.

Vraxi cradled his head in his hands. “Owwwww… and also very much ouch…some blackguard slugged me, Xan…”

“No one slugged you. I strategically and harmlessly incapacitated you for your own good. And I already apologised. If your head’s hurting it’s what you’ve done to it, not me. Here, drink this.”

“What the hell-spawned poison is that?”

“A better kind than you’ve had so far, do you want me to hold your nose and make you choke it down?”

The yag waved a hand, and took the mortar, gulping the thick black soup down in one and pulling a face.

“Uck. What the hell good is that supposed to d…. mphwmmmmph…

Xander quickly shoved his head between his knees over the bucket and held his hair back from his face as an evening’s worth of blood, coffee, kvass and tsujka vacated the yag’s stomach along with the charcoal mixture.

They sat like that for about an hour. Xander saying nothing while his friend continued to bring up bile and black grit in sporadic outbursts of choking fits and curses.

Xander shook his head. He had absolutely no point of reference for this kind of… what was it? Self indulgence? Self destruction? … mind altering substances had not been permitted in the armed forces (other than those administered forcibly in the name of government aproved military strategy ) and since the end of the world and his escape from that life he had never dared do anything that might give the demon a chance at taking control of his conciousness. Of course he drank kvass, there was little else in a city where the river was blood and the only rain that fell was brimstone, but he knew exactly what his limits were and he never, ever, over stepped them. The fact that his friend seemed to constantly need to push the boundaries of his own ability to escape reality was something he found utterly incomprehensible.

This has to stop, he told himself furiously. What is the point in me going to all this effort trying to keep him safe from what’s inside me when I can’t even keep him safe from himself? I can’t keep doing this. I can’t. We’re just both too broken to do anything but…bloody destroy eachother.

“Urg. I’m empty. Anymore and I’ll be bringing up hellfire. Which won’t be pretty, I assure you. Voice of experience speaking.” He wiped his mouth and his dressing gown sleeve, flopped backwards onto the couch and laughed out loud. “Woooo-hooo! Church! Ha! I think I’ve re-discovered my Loca!”

“You are Loca!” Xander growled. “Life isn’t one long party, you could have lost your mind back there! Or worse!”

“Oh, pah!” the yag struggled to his feet and fished about for his pipe, lit it and took a long drag. “This isn’t life Xander, it’s death… or undeath…or some such thing; what have I got to lose?”

“Well you’ve lost me!” Xander spat, pushing the yag aside and heading for the door. “If you can’t give a damn about yourself, then why the hell should I?”

“All done in here?” The apothecary asked, peering through the beaded curtain.

“Yeah. We’re done.” Xander said, glaring at the yag.

He pulled a money pouch from inside his shirt but the woman waved it away.

“No charge.” she said and then turned to the yag and added, “but I don’t expect to see you again, savvy?”

“Much obliged, and utterly understood,” Vraxi said, placing his hands together and giving a little bow.

“Get out with all that crap.” the apothecary snapped, shooing them out of the shop and clanging the door shut behind them.

“Oh good morning! Isn’t it?” Vraxi sang cheerfully to a passing couple who eyed them both with disgust and a smidge of trepidation. He waved as they hurried off down the street and then looked about him for Xander who was already stalking off towards the kadasa.

“Home is this way!” he called, pointing to a side street as he sprinted to catch up.

“Not going home. I told you. I’m done with this. Gonna ask Mendicci to pair me with someone else. Now.”

“What? Xander no, you are not serious?” the yag grinned and tried to put a hand on his arm but Xander pulled away and continued his march.

Vraxi bit his lip and wrung his hands as he considered what to do. This was no good at all. It would scupper everything. And he was so, so close to making all the pieces of his plan fall into place.

“Look, I apologise, I’m deeply sorry, it will never happen again…”

“You said that the last time, with the honey…”

“But that was different!”

“And the time before that, at the dockers’ union… of which you’re not even a bloody member!”

“But that was different too!”

“And I’ve lost count of all the other ‘last times’ I have had to pull your unconscious arse out of some sort of trouble that could easily have been avoided if you weren’t such a greedy, thoughtless, hedonistic, egotistical little prick!”

They both stopped in the centre of the bridge. Xander glaring furiously and breathing hard. Vraxi looking distraught.

“I’m sorry?” he tried. “Look, please, please, believe me Xander this time was different and it won’t ever, ever happen again…”

“How?”

The yag looked confused.

“How is it different? Why is it different?”

“I… I can’t tell you that… just yet… I will, eventually, I promise but…oh no Xander don’t go please I’m in earnest…” he added as Xander snorted with disgust and headed off again towards the antiques shop.

Vraxi tucked his pipe between his teeth, hitched up the long train of his silk dressing gown and sped after him.

7 responses

  1. Oh, I’m sure they’ll patch things up. … Won’t they? ???

    Liked by 2 people

    November 21, 2020 at 3:39 pm

    • Penny Blake

      Ummm… maybe? XD

      Liked by 2 people

      November 22, 2020 at 1:59 pm

  2. Hey Penny, there is something I have been meaning to say: thank you. Thank you for using a black background and white print with a decent sized font. Your blog creates the least amount of eyestrain as any blog on the web. There is one that I try to follow, but she uses teeny tiny gray font on a blinding white background. I try, but I can’t. Your blog is as easy on the eyes as the girl that pubbs it. Happy Trails!

    Liked by 2 people

    November 23, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    • Penny Blake

      Aw! Icky thankyou so so much for taking the time to stop by and say that! I can’t tell you how happy that’s made me!!! The reason I do it is because I’ve got visual impairment and it’s easier on my eyes too and I did really hope that other folks would benefit from it too – so I’m over the moon it’s helped at least one person! Lol! Hugest blessings to you and yours, my friend 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      November 23, 2020 at 7:49 pm

  3. 𝙏𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙝𝙖𝙨 𝙩𝙤 𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙥, 𝙝𝙚 𝙩𝙤𝙡𝙙 𝙝𝙞𝙢𝙨𝙚𝙡𝙛 𝙛𝙪𝙧𝙞𝙤𝙪𝙨𝙡𝙮. 𝙒𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙞𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙥𝙤𝙞𝙣𝙩 𝙞𝙣 𝙢𝙚 𝙜𝙤𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙤 𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙚𝙛𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙩 𝙩𝙧𝙮𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙤 𝙠𝙚𝙚𝙥 𝙝𝙞𝙢 𝙨𝙖𝙛𝙚 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩’𝙨 𝙞𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙙𝙚 𝙢𝙚 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙄 𝙘𝙖𝙣’𝙩 𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙣 𝙠𝙚𝙚𝙥 𝙝𝙞𝙢 𝙨𝙖𝙛𝙚 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙝𝙞𝙢𝙨𝙚𝙡𝙛?
    ❤️💔❤️
    Thisss. It’s perfect. I love that his frustion is frothing to a head…oops, that sentence is going nowhere decent anytime soon😇🌋

    𝙄 𝙘𝙖𝙣’𝙩 𝙠𝙚𝙚𝙥 𝙙𝙤𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨. 𝙄 𝙘𝙖𝙣’𝙩. 𝙒𝙚’𝙧𝙚 𝙟𝙪𝙨𝙩 𝙗𝙤𝙩𝙝 𝙩𝙤𝙤 𝙗𝙧𝙤𝙠𝙚𝙣 𝙩𝙤 𝙙𝙤 𝙖𝙣𝙮𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙗𝙪𝙩…𝙗𝙡𝙤𝙤𝙙𝙮 𝙙𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙤𝙮 𝙚𝙖𝙘𝙝 𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧…
    💔❤️💔

    Oh bless them, how I love their bickering, they’re priceless.😆😁

    𝙓𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧 𝙨𝙝𝙤𝙤𝙠 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙝𝙚𝙖𝙙. 𝙃𝙚 𝙝𝙖𝙙 𝙖𝙗𝙨𝙤𝙡𝙪𝙩𝙚𝙡𝙮 𝙣𝙤 𝙥𝙤𝙞𝙣𝙩 𝙤𝙛 𝙧𝙚𝙛𝙚𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙘𝙚 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙙 𝙤𝙛… 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙞𝙩? 𝙎𝙚𝙡𝙛 𝙞𝙣𝙙𝙪𝙡𝙜𝙚𝙣𝙘𝙚? 𝙎𝙚𝙡𝙛 𝙙𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙪𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣? … 𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙙 𝙖𝙡𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙨𝙪𝙗𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚𝙨 𝙝𝙖𝙙 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙗𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙢𝙞𝙩𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙖𝙧𝙢𝙚𝙙 𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙘𝙚𝙨 (𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙤𝙨𝙚 𝙖𝙙𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙚𝙙 𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙘𝙞𝙗𝙡𝙮 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙣𝙖𝙢𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙜𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙣𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙖𝙥𝙧𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙙 𝙢𝙞𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙖𝙧𝙮 𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙜𝙮 ) 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙨𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙚𝙣𝙙 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙬𝙤𝙧𝙡𝙙 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙚𝙨𝙘𝙖𝙥𝙚 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙡𝙞𝙛𝙚 𝙝𝙚 𝙝𝙖𝙙 𝙣𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙙𝙖𝙧𝙚𝙙 𝙙𝙤 𝙖𝙣𝙮𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙢𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙜𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙙𝙚𝙢𝙤𝙣 𝙖 𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚 𝙖𝙩 𝙩𝙖𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙩𝙧𝙤𝙡 𝙤𝙛 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙘𝙞𝙤𝙪𝙨𝙣𝙚𝙨𝙨. 𝙊𝙛 𝙘𝙤𝙪𝙧𝙨𝙚 𝙝𝙚 𝙙𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙠 𝙠𝙫𝙖𝙨𝙨, 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙩𝙡𝙚 𝙚𝙡𝙨𝙚 𝙞𝙣 𝙖 𝙘𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙧𝙞𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙗𝙡𝙤𝙤𝙙 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙤𝙣𝙡𝙮 𝙧𝙖𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙛𝙚𝙡𝙡 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙗𝙧𝙞𝙢𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙣𝙚, 𝙗𝙪𝙩 𝙝𝙚 𝙠𝙣𝙚𝙬 𝙚𝙭𝙖𝙘𝙩𝙡𝙮 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙡𝙞𝙢𝙞𝙩𝙨 𝙬𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙝𝙚 𝙣𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧, 𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧, 𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙢. 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙛𝙖𝙘𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙛𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙣𝙙 𝙨𝙚𝙚𝙢𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙡𝙮 𝙣𝙚𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙥𝙪𝙨𝙝 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙗𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙𝙖𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙨 𝙤𝙛 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙤𝙬𝙣 𝙖𝙗𝙞𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝙩𝙤 𝙚𝙨𝙘𝙖𝙥𝙚 𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙨𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙝𝙚 𝙛𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙 𝙪𝙩𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙡𝙮 𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙥𝙧𝙚𝙝𝙚𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙗𝙡𝙚.

    Sublime. As brilliant as tis achingly beautiful 🥰 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    November 27, 2020 at 6:24 am

    • Penny Blake

      Aw bless your huge heart my lovely one, I’m so glad you feel for them here as much as I do – lol, isn’t it weird to ‘feel’ for your own characters as if you’re not the one orchestrating all their misery? XD XD XD Evil writers we are eh? XD xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

      December 4, 2020 at 3:02 pm

      • hehee…we are indeedy XD😈🤭 Aww… my l’il heart was aching for them💔 How I adore those mischiefs❤️ And, o’course, your scrumptious self. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

        Like

        December 5, 2020 at 2:03 am

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