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Light in the Lantern: With Elen Sentier


Welcome to Steampunk’d Lancaster. My name is Elen Sentier and I write crafty novels about the adventures of witches in our everyday world. I also teach up-n-coming witches and wizards and help them get their own handles on their crafts.

Strange times have struck the Isles of Ire – Flesh eating Liver Birds plague the skies, terrorising the poor lone metal one atop the Liver Building, and Sugar-Zombies roam the streets spreading their curse like a plague… I’m always amazed at how they turn up every dratted Samhain and stick chocolate spanners in the works. Nothing seems to stop them, not even contaminating the sugar with tincture of fly agaric.

The first I knew of this year’s attack was when I woke suddenly in the pre-dawn, absolutely certain I’d been run over by an omnibus. I could feel the leaden weight of the engine crushing my chest. I opened my eyes to find myself staring into two huge luminous green headlights.

Hang on a minute … green? Headlamps are usually yellow or orange. Had I scoffed too much camembert last night? I tried breathing again. My chest muscles still worked despite the weight on them. And then I noticed the whiskers. Two matching sets of shimmering black whiskers stood out just below the green headlamps. I blinked. Several times. Regained focus. My Familiar Smilodon, Kellan, lay up my chest, purring like a traction engine.

‘Gerrrofff!’ I managed.

She yawned, showing off her awesome fangs. ‘You’re wanted,’ she told me. ‘And you’re already seven minutes late!’

‘Gerrrofff!’ I growled more strongly, managing to raise myself a little on my elbows. ‘How can I get up with you lying on me like a ton of bricks?’

She stood, arched, stretched, pedaling my stomach so I nearly pee’d myself. I rolled out of bed and ran for the loo. 5 minutes later I galloped down the outside staircase in her wake and we leapt on the broomstick. I pulled the starting lever, it gurgled, spat and stalled. I tried again – same thing. And again.

‘Carpet!’ yowled Kellan, leaping through the garage window. I kicked the lock on the doors til it fell off, hauled the groaning metal aside. A waft of dank, stagnant air threatened to bring up my stomach contents. Fortunately I’d abjured breakfast.

Kellan hauled at the rolled up carpet. I helped. It was damp. Three large rats ran out, complaining bitterly that I’d disturbed their rest. Kellan showed them her fangs, they absconded precipitately. We got the mouldy thing out into the street and Kellan pounded its tail-end while I waggled the controls. The carpet spat foam and three inches of fringe onto the pavement then took off with the jolt. Kellan dug in her claws while I jerked back and thudded into her nose. She yowled and bit me crossly.

I managed to get the benighted thing aloft and under some sort of control. Its near-front stabiliser is wonky so its like driving the average supermarket trolly, you have to lean hard to starboard or the thing continually heads off larboard. I swore. A lot.

‘Z-zombies at angels f-five thousand,’ the coms stuttered into life.

I yanked the stick back and we climbed. ‘There!’ yowled Kellan over my shoulder. I saw them, trained the gatling gun on them and pulled the trigger. A blast of flame seared the sugar zombies into crème brulée as the trigger fell off in my hand. Flaming fiddlesticks I swore violently. Instantly my curse materialised and the carpet whooshed up into a flying bonfire to the accompaniment of number 15 of the 24 Caprices by Paganini.

‘You are the dumbest witch on the block!’ Kellan caught me in a huge paw and planted me on her back, spread her wings and we sailed off into the sunset towards the Liver Building.

The Liver Bird Himself was battling furiously, smacking zombies with the branch of laver seaweed and squawking miserably, Obviously on his last legs. Kellan dived. I clung to her mane for dear life. She snapped and bit, chopping zombies into sugar cubes, pink-coloured from the blood. The Liver Bird sagged into a sweaty heap of scales and feathers on the top of the dome. ‘Thank you,’ it croaked. ‘A pleasure,’ Kellan replied.

We landed on the roof. The Others ran out to greet us, shoved a cauldron of mead under Kellan’s nose, she slurped and purred happily. Somebody remembered to give me a glass too.

That night, we all went up to the watchtower, re-kindled the old beacon above the city. We’ll keep its flame burning each night through the Dark Times as a way of giving hope to those being hunted down by terrifying monsters, or evil scarecrow landlords…

Tonight is my shift. Never fear, I’m well armed to protect myself with my newly blunted runcible spoon. And Kellan’s here to keep an eye on me so I think I’ll manage to keep the beasts at bay.

There’s a nasty-smelling brownish-grey splodge down in the street below. I just hope the rains will come in spring and wash away the remains of the carpet. Until then, and since I’m here, I thought I’d while away the small hours and share some of my work with you all…

As well as the Awenydd Apprenticeship and Rainbow Warriors, I’m doing a whole set of masterclasses on ReWilding Your Heart in 2022. We did the introduction in November but don’t let that stop you coming to them. – See here to book

You can apply for the next Awenydd Apprenticeship intake from Imbolc (1 Feb) 2022.

My latest book about Practically Pagan – an alternative Guide to Gardening is just out …

And while you wait for my latest novel, Spirit Keeper, to be published you could do worse than read Owl Woman 😊

If you’d like to purchase any of my wares you can find them here…

If you’d like to connect you can find me here….

Thankyou for joining me to keep the light in the lantern burning. I’m afraid that’s my shift over for the night. Thank goodness it was a quiet one – especially after my overly dramatic entry, I shan’t live that one down for a few years!! I’ve heard some authors have had their spines ripped to pieces up here by those Liver Birds – they just never know which side their bread is buttered! And last week a fellow artist fell foul of a horde of sugar zombies and is now best avoided unless you’re really into crème brulée. But her paintings are now apparently better than ever–

Kellan has decided she’ll still stay with me despite the incompetence I displayed at the beginning of this year’s campaign. Oh and the Liver Bird was sick for three whole days and nights from eating the sugar-zomie-cubes! Stupid bird!

Stay safe friends, whatever assails you, and when times are dark, look for the light in the lanterns of others and treasure the light in your own….

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