Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Posts tagged “Zombie Romance

Silk and Steel

Happy Friday! Well our forray into Icewind Dale last weekend nearly wiped our entire high-level party just from the cold and scary as that was it really set the scene for the horror-feel and made everything super intense and sand-boxy which we haven’t had for a looooong time – it felt more like playing something like Blades in The Dark. Brilliant 😀

But enough Dnd – here is the next bit of Silk and Steel – if you happened to miss the chapter waaaaayyyy back where the Doctor met Pan Twardowski in the park in the form of The Crow Man you want to know that Pan gave the Doctor a mysterious vial that looked similar to demonsong and told him to find a way to make Spyro drink it…. just sayin… XD XD XD 😉

“And now that they are out of the way,” the doctor said, as he placed a glass in front of Spyro and took one for himself, “if you expect me to be involved in this scheme, then I expect absolute candour from you, as always.”
Spyro ingnored the drink and leaned in close.

“All I require for this one is your advice and your discretion.” he said, his voice low and intense.


The Doctor stared hard at him. “The more information I have, the better the advice I can give.” He spread his palms, “As for discretion, you know it is not a concept I have ever had much time for, but… it would not suit me at present to see you in any form of difficulty.”

Perhaps the only reason I am still alive. – Spyro couldn’t help reflecting and he supressed a shudder at how close he thout he had come to pushing the powerful Ghani too far.


He nodded, intimating that the sentiment was both accepted and reciprocated, for now. “Very well then. An old aquaintance has returned to the city – an unimaginably powerful one who, for reasons I won’t bore you with, wishes to put an end to our lucrative corporation.”

“You mean he wants you dead.”

Spyro spun his glass again,still ignoring the full one the doctor had givenhim. “I did not say that,” he said, smiling up through his fringe of dark curls.


The Doctor held his gaze. “You did not have to.”

Spyro licked his dry lips and for a long while they sat there, locked in yet another of their many stand-offs.


At length, the antiques dealer leaned back, threw his arm over the back of the bench and let his gaze wander around the room before finally deigning to re-join the conversation. “This person commands an uncommon power,” he said, keeping his voice low, “something akin to that wielded by the church and the vesperai…”

“Then perhaps Blondell is your better choice of confident…”

“Damn it!” He struck the table with his fist in frustration and instantly regretted it as he saw the ghani’s colour begin to rise.

“Look, I can’t trust Blondell,” he said earnestly, “you are my business associate and one of my oldest and closest companions, I am trusting the matter to you and to no one else.”


The Doctor nodded thoughtfully. “Fine. Then speak.”
“I need a way of combatting that power myself. I have seenthis man bested by demons once before andI am curious – what would be the effect on someone who is not demon-bound if they drank demonsong? Would it give them a similar power?”


The Doctor raised his eyebrows. “I am a man of science…”


“You are an alchemist is this not your area of expertise?”


“Demonsong remains at present a theological conundrum. However,” he added as he saw Spyro was about to make a retort, “I have been regularly subjected to the pompous rhetoric of my fellows enough to convey that the most widely accepted theory on the subject maintains that demonsong works the way it does because it calls to the divine spark present in all things – god calling to god, if you will.”


Spyro shrugged as if it mattered little and the The Doctor pressed on.
“When a demon-bound person drinks demonsong it is generally supposed that it awakens that divine spark within the demon and grants it, for a short while, a burst of god-like power. If there were no demon, then…”

“Oh my goodness! I am SO so sorry!!” The barmaid who had bustled over to clear their empty glasses suddenly slipped, sending the four untouched drinks spilling all over the table.


“Don’t trouble yourself, it was merely an accident,” The Doctor said, “I have not a splash upon my person.”


Spyro, who was quite drenched from the waist down and now sported claret stains upon his white shirt smiled reassuringly as he pulled a handkerchief and began mopping at his trousers. “The Doctor is right, it matters not at all, “ he said pleasantly.


The barmaid shook her head, “I will get you another round out of my tips, my loves,” she said, patting his arm and collecting the glasses onto her tray.

“I wouldn’t hear of it,” Spyro said, “have one for yourself instead.” And he gave her a handful of fleshcoins and a winning smile.


They waited until she had gone before resuming the conversation.

“So you think it would have no effect because there is no demon?” Spyro deduced.

The Doctor shook his head. “Quite the opposite, I think the results would be very interesting. I will bring you a vial of the stuff tonight if you wish.”


Spyro frowned. He had been certain that the Doctor had been heading down the opposite track and now he wondered how he could have misinterpreted his tone and expression so badly. I am letting this Twardowski business affect my judgement. He chided himself. The sooner it is dealt with the better. “So, theoretically, drinking demonsong would give a person a burst of power similar to that of a demon? For a short time.”

“For a short time, it would seem so.”

“Then I am for it. Thankyou,” he said earnestly, as Fey returned to the table, steering an unsteady looking Xander gently but firmly by the shoulders.


“Don’t mention it.” The Doctor replied, moving over so that the pair could take their seats again.

“Ready to play?” Spyro asked.

“All set.” Fey grinned confidently.

Xander nodded but didn’t say a word.


Silk and Steel

Happy Friday folks! I hope that life is treating you all gently and that you have a restful weekend in the pipeline! I’ll be DMing our first foray into Icewind Dale all weekend so today is painting plasterboard scenery and such 😀

The above quote is from later on in the book but I love Tithi Luadthong’s artwork so much I thought I’d share it now 🙂

Before I post the next bit of the story though, I thought I’d just take a moment to say that the theme it’s about to touch on – and in fact many other of the themes that run through it – is inspired by my time as a teenager sleeping on the streets and in squats. Young people – boys and girls – in that predicament are really like Xander and Vraxi and Edmund; they don’t have many choices, they seek protection from the adults who present themselves as ‘saviours’, they will do almost anything for a roof over their head or a meal or just to be held close for a moment and told they are worth something. This is a fantasy setting but the issues are real. Shelter are running an emergency appeal right now to raise money for their helpline which aims to prevent homelessness by supporting families and individuals at risk. If you’re interested in helping them their fundraising site is here:

https://england.shelter.org.uk/donate?reserved_appeal_code=20200401-DF-10&msclkid=371f226374f81208bc877d0718258329&gclid=CJC6s_Sh8usCFdQgGwodDAwF2A&gclsrc=ds

So here we go, this next snippet of the story follows Xander outside as he runs off to spew his guts up at the realisation that the antiques dealer he had been viewing as a bit of a surrogate father figure is really a cold-hearted, manipulative bastard… (not that he doesn’t have a lovely side as well, of course, doesn’t everyone?)

Fey found Xander in the yard hunched beside a pool of his own vomit; hood up, and hugging is knees to his chest. The knuckles of his right hand were skinned and and there was blood on the brick wall behind him.


“Never helps, that,” she said, crouching down beside him and giving his injured hand a prod. Walls don’t hit back and there’s never any satisfaction in an unfair fight. Hey…” she flicked back his hood before he could stop her “…oh Kid, you’re not cryin?”


He was. He couldn’t help it. To say he had never felt so terrified and trapped in all his life would have been a lie, of course, but he had thought those days were behind him.


“I’m an idiot.” he mumbled, wiping his red-rimmed eyes. “I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t, Fey, I can’t. And I don’t want to die. Not like that. Not hung. Not… any of it. And I’ve got nothing. No one. No choice. I’ve got no bloody choice!” He gritted his teeth against the suffocating feeling of spiralling out of control, fighting back as hard as he could against the sentient soul inside him that was pushing to get out and rip something apart.

He balled his fists and hammered them against his temples until Fey took his hands firmly and held them away.


“You know what kid? You’re right. You said it. You’ve got no choice. Don’t wanna hang?”


He pulled his hands free, folding them defensively beneath his cloak, and shook his head.


“Right, suck it up then and let’s do this.”


He shook his head.


“Look, you think Mendicci’s some kind of monster because he lied to you? I’m tellin’ you, kid, everyone’s a monster round here – if you don’t answer to one, you’ll answer to another and if you hang on in there long enough, maybe someone some day will answer to you. But for now, this is life… or death or whatever you want to call it, this is the way it is, and you’ve just gotta stick out your chin and deal with it.”’


“It’s me that’s the monster.”


“Yep. You’re right. And me. Like I said, all of us. Wotcha gonna do about it? Sit there and cry? Or get up an’ try and figure out what kind of monster you’re gonna be?”


Xander frowned.


“It might not seem like it, but some small things we do still have a choice in. Look at the Duke – he chooses to be the kind of monster that’d have a six year old’s hand cut off for stealin’ a loaf of bread… but not the kind of monster that’d take advantage of a high class lady who’d had one too many at a fancy ball. Look at me – kind of monster that’ll slit pretty much anyone’s throat if the pay is right – also the kind who gives half her pay packet to the Hogarths’ alms houses, where she was born. We don’t have much control down here at the bottom of the crap heap, kid, you’re right about that, but what choices we do have we need to make the most of, even if only so we can say, at the end of each day, ‘this is the kind of monster I am.’ Now, as for you; you can choose right now to man-up and accept the way things are, walk back in there with your chin up and tell them you’ll do the job, even though you don’t want to, and that will earn you back a bit of respect. Certainly from me. Or I can frog-march you back in there by the scruff and tell ’em you’ll do it anyway whether you like it or not. Which is it goin’ to be?”


Silk and Steel

Ahoi! I know it’s not Friday but I’m going away to visit family for a few days and then after that I’m in hospital again having another top up so I thought I had better leave you with something from Spyro and co. as the last IV knocked me for a pretty six so it may be more than a week before I post the next one XD Hope you are all keeping safe and well and wishing you all a most fabulous weekend 🙂

In September I’ll keep posting these extracts but I’m also hosting a new promo called Light In The Lantern which I hope will give writers and artists a chance to spread some light through the darkness with their beautiful and inspiring work 🙂 If you’d like me to feature your work drop me an email at ladywiththewyvern@gmail.com 🙂

For now, I’ll leave you with Spyro in the bath…

 

Spyro emptied the jug of warm water over his head, dowsing his tight black curls, letting it drench down its liquid comfort over his neck and shoulders and back.

The Doctor was right when he named Arden a genius – an annoying, entitled, maverick little cock to be sure, but still a genius. He had rigged a demonsong-powered water heating system for the bathroom the night he had moved in, requiring nothing but what he found lying about in the cellar and the back yard. He could certainly be forgiven a great many faults for that one gift alone, Spyro thought idly as he steepled his fingers above the steaming surface of the bathwater and shut his eyes.

Twardowski, he murmured, repeating the name of his nemesis as he turned the mental image of the great magician over and over in his mind; remembering the man’s faults, his strengths, calculating what might know, and what he did not, of this strange new world he had come down to.

He has magic. And I do not. At least not enough, not anymore. He has the goddess of death on his side. And I do not.  I have…

He paused, what did he have exactly? In reality, not half as much as he lead people to believe.

In reality, the reason that Silk and Steel had risen to apparent underground omnipotence so quickly was that they did not have a vast network of powerful and influential people directly under their control. That kind of monopoly would have taken years to cultivate.

What they had instead, Spyro thought ruefully – although he acknowledged the fact that it had served them better this way – was a few strategically placed powerful allies, a rag-tag band of pick pockets, cut-throats and confidence tricksters, and a vast network of street urchins who pervaded every inch of the city of Ryzym and who saw, heard and fed back to him everything of interest that went on whether it be on a street corner in the cinders or behind a locked door in The Groves.

He frowned and tapped his fingers together thoughtfully. Perhaps part of the reason this ludicrously simple system had actually worked was that no one honestly thought anyone would dare to play such an ambitious game when they had so little.

He smiled, that had always been his strength now he came to reflect upon it. He had stood up to slave masters and thugs, landlords and law enforcers, he had stirred common folk to uprisings and rebellions which had changed the face of history altogether… all because he dared.

He had learnt magic,because he dared. Had cheated demons, because he dared. Had trusted his fate to the gods, because he dared.

And then he had defied them all, betrayed those who saved his life and come back down here to do it all over again. All because he dared to do it.

And now I will put an end to you Twardowski,with nothing more than a handful of street urchins, the advice of a good doctor and two good friends at my back.

He smiled his most sinister smile to himself as he sank back into the soothing arms of the luxuriously warm water.

Two very particular friends, of course…


#RainbowSnippets: Necromancers

Happy Saturday folks!

Well I finally had my first op on Wednesday – it all went smoothly and I should get the de-brief and biopsy results in 1 -3 weeks (actually it was such a lovely hospital and the staff were all so wonderful I felt like I’d had a little holiday rather than an operation! XD So feeling like a bit of a fraud really! Eep! XD I even got plenty of time before and after to knit some rainbow Joey Bags for UK Crafters For Australian Wildlife on FB while I was reading my lovely kindle stash! lol. )

If you’re new to this, Rainbow Snippets is a chance to read and share 6 sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction every Saturday. There’s a huge variety from Steampunk, like mine, to Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Comedy and everything in between. You can join the fun and read all the other fabulous snippets at the wonderfully friendly and supportive official facebook group here.

About 500 plus years after the events in the first book (The Curious Adventures Of Smith And Skarry) a forgotten cult are still obliviously serving their long-dead leader, Wiz, and trying to find the secret of immortality. Sort of. Actually daily temple life revolves more around knitting circles, bridge nights and summer fetes… until two novices stumble upon the secret of undeath themselves and unleash a couple of very unlikely ‘gods’ upon the unprepared and erstwhile peaceful community.

 

If you missed the last part you can catch up here: #RainbowSnippets: Necromancers

Righty, this will be my last Necromancers snippet for a while because a) I promised to do some more Smith and Skarry snippets through January and b) Necromancers is now available in ebook form (format thoroughly checked before publication this time! XD) and will soon be available in Paperback too (it’s only a short story at around 17,000 words so the paperback will be only £2.99 I think – I’m just waiting for the proof to arrive)

I’ve moved away from Viv and Reynard for this last one, to give you a glimpse of Douglas and his fellow red robe acolytes as they wait uneasily for Vivienne to come and have a ‘little chat’ with them… (sorry it’s seven sentences but it is the last one for a while!)

 

Inside the red robes’ chamber, Douglas shifted his weight uneasily on the long wooden bench and cradled his goblet of blood as though it were a comforting mug of cocoa on a cold winter’s evening. Exactly how he had got himself into Cardinal Vivienne’s bad books, he had no idea – he always attended staff meetings, always volunteered to help out on the tombola, and his sticky toffee tray bakes were the talk of the temple.
“Drumstick?” Bex nudged him out of his pensive contemplation with a bony elbow and he took the leg she offered him with an absent smile, almost forgetting to remove the knitted woolen booty before taking a bite.
“What do you think he wants to talk to us about?” Simon asked nervously. “D… d… d… d’you think it’s the summer fete?”
Liz rolled her eyes. “I seriously hope not because I am not getting stuck on tombola again, it’s not like they even appreciated the prizes we arranged for it.”
Douglas frowned slightly as he remembered being grilled by Vivienne at the end of the celebration for the fact that several village children had had to have counseling.

 

 

Wishing you all an utterly fabulous weekend folks, and don’t forget to check out all the other fabulous snippets on the official fb page here: official facebook group here.

 


#RainbowSnippets: Necromancers

Happy Saturday!

Hope everyone who did NaNo is super happy with what they achieved! 😀

After this post I’ve got two more Necromancers snippets planned and then after that I’m not sure what to post through December / January – I’ve got more Necromancers, which I’m still writing, Jack and Marjory is finished now but I need to edit and change some bits of it so there’s that, and Smith and Skarry book 1 is now out in ebook and paper back so I could snip from that… SO I thought it might be fun to make a poll and see what you guys would prefer 😀 – if you don’t mind one way or the other, that’s cool but if there’s something you would like me to post more of then you can VOTE HERE! 😀

 

Anyway, here’s my #RainbowSnippets post for this week (a wee bit over 6 sentences, sorry, but some of them are very short)  – if you’re new to this, Rainbow Snippets is a chance to read and share 6 sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction every Saturday. There’s a huge variety from Steampunk, like mine, to Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Comedy and everything in between. You can join the fun and read all the other fabulous snippets at the wonderfully friendly and supportive official facebook group here.

 

About 500 plus years after the events in the first book (The Curious Adventures Of Smith And Skarry) a forgotten cult are still obliviously serving their long-dead leader, Wiz, and trying to find the secret of immortality. Sort of. Actually daily temple life revolves more around knitting circles, bridge nights and summer fetes… until two novices stumble upon the secret of undeath themselves and unleash a couple of very unlikely ‘gods’ (and one disgruntled octopus) upon the unprepared and erstwhile peaceful community.

If you missed the last part you can catch up here:#RainbowSnippets: Necromancers

rendered

 

“I see,” Reynard peered into another of the many bottles and gave it a little shake.
“Oh! You do, do you?” Vivienne continued to glare as Reynard rolled his eyes and turned his back on him, moving towards the only chair in the room and standing beside it.

Vivienne shook his head, “You know, sometimes I look at you and do you know what I see? I see the only person on this Wiz forsaken little island whose dark and twisted labyrinth of mental operations I can’t even begin to … navigate or … to comprehend. Is this all some diabolical form of amusement to you? Are you so tormented by my presence on this earth that you’re diverting the entirety of your order’s time and resources to driving me into an early grave? Is that it?”
Reynard examined his nails, “Is this about Immanuel again?”

 

Have a fabulous weekend folks 😀 And don’t forget to check in at the #rainbowsnippets facebook group for more fabulous snippets of LGBTQIA+ fiction


#RainbowSnippets: Necromancers

Happy Saturday!  And Happy Halloween / Samhain / All Saints and Souls / Candy Fest whatever you celebrate at this time of year 😀

Here’s my #RainbowSnippets post for this week – if you’re new to this, Rainbow Snippets is a chance to read and share 6 sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction every Saturday. There’s a huge variety from Steampunk, like mine, to Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Comedy and everything in between. You can join the fun and read all the other fabulous snippets at the wonderfully friendly and supportive official facebook group here.

As it’s the spooky season I thought I’d do a few snips from a WIP which is the very last book (probably) in my Steampunk series Ashton’s Kingdom. This one is only 5 sentences but they’re long ones!

About 500 plus years after the events in the first book (The Curious Adventures Of Smith And Skarry)  a forgotten cult are still obliviously serving their long-dead leader, Wiz, and trying to find the secret of immortality. Sort of. Actually daily temple life revolves more around knitting circles, bridge nights and summer fetes… until two novices stumble upon the secret of undeath themselves and unleash a couple of very unlikely ‘gods’ (and one disgruntled octopus) upon the unprepared and erstwhile peaceful community.

rendered.jpg

 

 

Thunder, Lightening, rain, hail, ominous fog and all the other things that accompany the beginning of an iconic horror movie or damn fine novel about Tea, Cake and lashings of Untimely Death, were occurring all over the little island known colloquially (and everywhere else) as The Skull.
Douglas skidded and stumbled over the vindictively slick cobblestones, cursing the length of his disgustingly sodden red robes, the ineffectual protection offered by his floppy wet cowl, the stupid little purse that dangled at his waist and was constantly expelling all his valuables into the muck, the fact that his favourite pocket watch had broken – again – and any and everything else that passed through his mind as he finally staggered, panting and wheezing to the top of the hill.
Sheet lightening flared for a second, silhouetting the crumbling chapel as Douglas clasped the cold iron ring in the studded wooden door and, with a cautious shoulder, silently eased it open.
The eerie luminescence of a hundred flickering candles, vanished in an ebbing wave to be replaced by darkness and smoke and a smattering of accusatory choking noises.
Thunder shook the walls and lightening flashed again, gleaming on several stiletto thin blades, poised in mid air.

 

 

Is Douglas in trouble? I’ll let you know next week 😉 Meanwhile have a spectacularly spooky weekend folks 😀 and don’t forget to check in at the #rainbowsnippets facebook group for more fabulous snippets of LGBTQIA+ fiction