Saturday, January 23, 2021
Welcome back, my chuckaboos! Thank you, thank you for your patience and for returning to this #Steampunk riverboat. For new readers, or those who may have missed it, “chuckaboo” was Victorian Era slang for dear friend. So, everyone who follows this serial is my chuckaboo.
Previously on The Delta Pearl
The cat tried to meow and growl at the same time, and without opening his mouth more than a little. The tiny corner of gold slipped out farther. I could see a sparkling yellow-green stone.
“If I didn’t know better, I’d think the brooch was trying to get out of Reggie’s mouth,” Victor commented as Reggie meowed again.
Jaspe turned toward the Captain, as if he was about to speak. Reggie took that moment to wriggle free of Jaspe’s grasp. The cat jumped from the Dealer’s arms. However, he dropped his prize when he landed.
A gold and peridot butterfly fell to the plush carpet. Its wings slowly began to move.
“Opal’s butterfly brooch is a clockwork!” Victor exclaimed. “I never realized. But look. It seems to have broken. A tiny wand-like piece of gold is there beside it.”
“That’s the key,” I told Victor.
It was no ordinary key. The key that Opal kept safely hidden in her clockwork butterfly was the tuning key. It would unlock the brass box that housed the tuning forks used in the Delta Pearl’s bonding ceremony, and at other times when the riverboat needed the extra power produced by the crew’s singing combined with the tuning forks.
For a moment the key glittered on the deep red carpet. Then a small shadow fell across it.
The Delta Pearl
Chapter 61 — Light
Quickly, I put her my foot on top of the key before anyone else could see it. Glancing upward, I looked for the source of the shadow I had briefly seen. I heard a metallic rustle, but that was all.
The clockwork butterfly had most of my attention. It was was gold and set with six peridot gems. It fluttered awkwardly around the room, the cat chasing it.
“Peridot never did fly very well,” I told Victor. “That’s why she usually sits like a brooch at Opal’s shoulder. Sometimes she holds the Librarian’s spectacles. Or she fetches small things, like index cards or pencils for her, but she can’t fly very far.”
After a moment of fluttering, Peridot stopped on the ground. Reggie pounced and grabbed the butterfly again. I spotted Amethyst watching them from her perch on a chandelier.
Just then, a deckhand came inside the etched glass doors.
“All’s secure, Captain,” the man stated.
Reggie, the butterfly again in his mouth, ran between the deckhand’s feet as the doors were closing.
On a silver thread, Amethyst swung out, right after them.
The Dealer’s reflexes were impossibly quick. Jaspe turned on his heal to prevent his cat going into the unknown dangers outside. He was barely an inch behind Reggie. However, the heavy doors slammed shut in his face.
Jaspe put his palms to the glass. The riverboat held the doors firmly shut.
My eyes roamed frantically for something I might throw to break the glass, so we could save Reggie. I struggled to lift a big sterling silver coffeepot. The Captain placed a huge but gentle hand on my shoulder, guessing my intention.
“Émeraude, the glass won’t break. It’s several inches thick. I don’t know how the designs were etched into it. When I was a lad, I tried to scratch it with a diamond, and it had no effect,” the Captain said.
“What do they think they’re doing?” I cried.
Crazy Horse Cal, the clockwork horse Victor made for me, belatedly slid into the closed doors. Cal seemed confused that the other clockworks had left him behind. He walked into the door repeatedly until Victor picked him up.
A plaintive meow sounded from outside.
“Reggie!” the Dealer exclaimed.
The timbers of the riverboat moaned. A bass pitched vibration reached from my feet to my stomach.
The etched glass doors swung open. Something black leapt inside, and landed against the Dealer’s chest. Then the doors slammed shut with a loud bang.
I thought it was Reggie. However, if the cat got back inside, then where were the clockwork creatures?
Beyond the doors I saw the blue and green lights that came from the crack in the sky. The colors pulsed and swirled as the crack erupted all the way downward to the river.
My sense of gravity momentarily disappeared. It felt as though the Delta Pearl had been tossed up off the river, as if by a huge wave. I wasn’t sure whether or not my feet still touched the floor. My mind couldn’t immediately process the bizarre sensation.
Abruptly, white light blared through the glass door and windows, searing my vision.
There was light.
No sound, no sensation.
Light. Blinding light.
End Chapter 61
Once Émeraude’s “world went black” — this time it was a white-out, albeit not a blizzard. I’m sorry I didn’t come roaring back, but… It’s a start.
Featured Book Cover
No, this is not about my Cover Reveal for “Dead of Winter: Journey 2, Penllyn.” Although, if you haven’t seen that, I hope you’ll click the link. Each week I’ll feature a Designed & Ready book cover. (Thanks again to Dan Antion for coming up with the phrase, “Designed & Ready.”) I’m offering the service of pre-designed book covers or promotional images if preferred. Here’s this week’s featured design. Click here to see my entire portfolio.
This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2016 and 2021 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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