Saturday, January 30, 2021
Welcome back, my chuckaboos! The #steampunk riverboat is back. 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.
For past episodes, either click the back arrow at the bottom of the post, or click on the Delta Pearl category button on the right side of the page. Now let’s get right to it.
The Delta Pearl
Chapter 62 — Stagger
Discomfort in a part of my body other than my aching head brought me ‘round. Someone was shaking my shoulder.
Spots blanked most of my vision, remnants of the searing white light. Between the light and the lurching of the riverboat, I felt absolutely rumdum and disoriented.
“Awpl… umm… Opal?” I studdered.
It looked like everyone else who had been on the Chandelier Deck was still unconscious. The Dealer was waking up, but a deckhand lay sprawled across him where he had unceremoniously passed-out. The man’s nautical telescope dropped to the floor beside them.
Opal had been safely on a lower deck, most likely either working in the library or the boiler room, where the bonding ceremonies were sung.
“Quickly dear,” the deceptively frail looking Librarian told me. “Do you have the key? When I saw Peridot playing with Jaspe’s cat, I thought they might look for you. Butterflies will bubble around…”
“Don’t worry, darling. Everyone will be fine,” she assured me, though the way she touched the shoulder where the butterfly usually sat told me that she was worried about her clockwork friend. “Everyone will be waking up in a moment. It’s simply the effects of the time shift. Particularly with two of them on the heels of one another. Fortunately for me, I was near the tuning forks,” she assured me.
The tuning forks, which were used in the bonding ceremony were kept in the boiler room, largely for the protecting they gave the riverboat’s power sources. They also could augment that power, when necessary. The tuning forks could not be activated without the key.
A small shadow distracted me. Spots still impaired my vision, but I was sure a shadow fluttered behind the Librarian.
Mumbling unintelligibly about it, I lifted my hand to give Opal the small gold rod which was the key.
Before Opal could take the key, shining brass swooped down between us. Little metal talons touched my hand and grabbed the key.
“Onyx!” Opal shouted.
Stunned, I saw the clockwork owl fly toward the etched glass double doors.
Reggie, the Dealer’s cat extricated himself from where the deckhand had collapsed against Jaspe. Feline feet nimbly danced across the small telescope that lay in his path. The tuxedo cat bounded toward the door when he saw Onyx. Reggie sprang to the lever doorknob, pressing it down.
Moments before, the Delta Pearl seemed to have locked the doors. Yet, to my surprise they opened. Onyx, the key clutched in his toes, glided outside.
The doors swung closed again leaving a disgruntled Reggie inside. He gave a displeased sounding meow.
I staggered to my feet and rushed unsteadily toward the doors. The riverboat gave a shudder, but it was less intense than the previous events. I had the feeling that she was settling.
The nautical telescope rolled into my path. Still feeling boryeyed, I stumbled, trying to avoid it. Touching a hand to the floor, I regained my balance. I also picked up the wayward telescope before it could cause any more trouble.
When I reached the door, it resisted my attempt to open it, but only for a moment. I jiggled the knob, and pushed down on it. To my relief, it opened.
I admit to feeling cautious after all the lights and lurching. At least my vision had begun to clear. I leaned halfway out the door, afraid to go out onto the deck.
Sunlight, normal sunlight, glinted on bronze wings, attracting my gaze. The clockwork owl was flying upward. Emboldened by the sunshine, I gathered my courage and stepped out onto the deck.
Steadying myself against the railing, I put the telescope to my eye. Flashes of color caught my attention. Bright specks of green and purple danced at the top of a flagpole. I adjusted the bring ‘em near.
It was my spider, with Peridot clinging to her back. There were also fine glints of silver, that I recognized for the “webs” by which Amethyst swung around high places. The clockwork butterfly didn’t fly very well. For a moment I thought Peridot had gotten herself stuck up there and wasn’t strong or agile enough to get back down. Perhaps Amethyst had gone up to help her.
“What can they be doing?” I murmured.
I was so focused on the antics of the clockworks that I failed to notice the sooty cloud that drew ever closer to the Delta Pearl.
Amethyst moved, causing Peridot to wobble her wings. The spider turned toward the clockwork owl’s approach. She dropped down the flagpole a few inches as the owl alighted. Then Amethyst, with Peridot still hanging on, swung upward and landed on the owl’s back.
I breathed a sigh of relief, believing Onyx would bring my spider and Opal’s butterfly safely back. He seemed to be flying toward me. However, he flew even higher. He wasn’t headed down at all. Then the shadow fell across the deck.
Looking up, I saw the all too familiar brown cloud.
Onyx, along with Amethyst and Peridot, flew directly to the sooty cloud and whatever it concealed.
End Chapter 62
Bettcha didn’t see that coming, my chuckaboos.
Featured Book Cover
Each week I’ll feature a Designed & Ready book cover. 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. Pricing information is also included there.
Yesterday I updated the portfolio to include a few new romantic looking fantasy covers, and since Valentine’s Day is around the corner, a couple for that too.
The second “journey” of Dead of Winter is almost here. There won’t be an actual launch for the monthly installments, but sharing is always welcome. I’ll post an announcement when it publishes.
It has been a very difficult couple of days. I need to hide under my rock. So, unfortunately I have had to close comments. As I’ve remarked many, many times, this is my sanctuary, not a forum for a critique. I’m sorry that I didn’t close comments quickly enough. Jaye and Anita — thank you for your encouraging comment.
Until next time, my chuckaboos!
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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