Saturday, February 13, 2021
Happy Valentine’s Day!
With the Victorians, terms of endearment flowed freely. A dear friend was a chuckaboo — and that’s what all of you are to me. Valentine’s Day can be traced to ancient Rome, but it was the Victorians who originally put a romantic spin on the holiday.
Some people love flowers on Valentine’s, others opt for chocolate… but as far as this author is concerned, the very best Valentine of all is a great review. Pat over at eQuips posted a lovely review for Dead of Winter: Journey 2, Penllyn. Click here and read Pat’s review.
Now to the regular weekend feature, my chuckaboos! I’m here with an all new episode of the #steampunk riverboat serial, The Delta Pearl.
This chapter ties back to 20 — Slash and to 54 — Flash. 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, shall we?
The Delta Pearl
Chapter 64 — Remember
Muddled as my brain had been from the riverboat’s transition, I had not noticed the Captain. Cecil Perlog was a huge man. Although his movements were not without grace, it was usually apparent when he entered a room. I jumped when I heard his deep voice right behind me.
“Mrs. Needleman, you are indeed an ingenious woman,” he commented in a neutral tone, with a nod to the breathing apparatus that hung from Eliza’s arm.
The Captain seemed calmly accepting of the level of knowledge Eliza had attained regarding the Delta Pearl’s secrets. It was not a reaction I would have expected, particularly not after her husband tried to purchase the riverboat.
Although both Mr. and Mrs. Needleman had proven their friendship since that day. Randall nearly died rescuing me from that net, when the couple acted as chaperones so Victor and I could go ashore — and unseen forces tried to abduct me. In fact, he was still bedridden from the poison fumes he had inhaled in the process.
I glanced from Cecil Perlog to Eliza Needleman. Then, once again I remembered the text on the calling-card he showed me the day we parted company with the “governess and her charge” who were actually an escaping wife, Alison Ritchie, and her lover, Azalea Morton. The Captain allowed the two women to remain in the future, where the riverboat had seen fit to take us. He told the couple they would be able to get help from the people named on the card.
Attorneys at Law
Cecil Perlog IV and Emerald Needleman.
“Captain!” Obsidian Durango called as he hurried into the room.
The Cadet’s face bore a harried expression. One person was better than any other at causing that reaction — Agate.
“What is it, Sid?” the Captain asked, though one eyebrow cocked as if to say he had a hunch.
“It’s the Cook, sir. Agate’s shouting about her baklava being ruined. She won’t hear reason,” Obsidian babbled.
“All is not lost for us, son,” the Captain started with a chuckle. “You and I can finish off the batch that doesn’t meet the Agate’s standards.”
The Captain excused himself and followed the Cadet.
Having put the cat back in his quarters, the Dealer returned. I knew Reggie wouldn’t be pleased with confinement. Jaspe has solved that with a large portion of trout. Eliza chuckled at the description the Dealer gave of Reggie with his fish.
“Ha! The minou is too clever for his own good. Bon appétit, Sir Reginald La Felin. Today you eat like royalty,” Jaspe joked with a motion toward the general direction of his cabin.
Victor walked over to us, carrying “Crazy horse Cal.” The clockwork horse lived up to the name of the variety of calcite that decorated his body. He never did work quite properly.
I wondered aloud if that was why the other clockwork creatures left without him. Then I blushed scarlet, worried that I had stuck my foot in my mouth. I didn’t mean any slight to Victor’s workmanship.
The Dealer saved me from that self-humiliation with his unexpected response. Everyone was too astonished to notice my poor choice of words.
“No, cher. It’s more a matter of provenance… or perhaps one could even say parentage, c’est tout. It’s not about whether or not he works well,” Jaspe began in that soft quasi-French accent.
“Parentage?” Victor interjected. “You mean because Cal belongs to Émeraude? Amethyst belongs to her too, and the spider had the look of a symphony conductor, orchestrating their exodus.”
“Ah, my dear, but you crafted him and gifted Cal to Émeraude,” Eliza remarked to Victor. “But why would that matter?”
“All the other clockwork creatures have long been parts of the Delta Pearl,” Jaspe explained. “They were all created by the same hand, n’est-ce pas?”
My brain felt like a puzzle box. It was as though the right spots had been triggered, and pieces popped open in astonishing ways.
“When the Delta Pearl rescued me — when I was just a little girl, you told me how the clockworks came to be,” I started haltingly. “Then the shape I saw you fighting with… When that sooty cloud dropped down during my sweet sixteen party. It was almost like watching your silhouette battle itself… Jaspe, you yelled the name Malachite.”
I remembered that horrible moment clearly.
“Malachite, you know you are not welcome here. The Delta Pearl herself cast you out!” I had heard the Dealer shout though I could no longer see him.
An icy stone of fear sank into the bottom of my stomach.
All of the Delta Pearl’s clockwork creatures were created by Malachite. The man was so abhorrent that the riverboat herself rejected him, long before I came aboard.
The Green Scarab Gallery that had been used to lure us ashore in Cario, Illinois was a set up — we already knew that. It was where we first saw the big copper scarab… and it was inset with malachite stones!
It had followed me, and then that net had dropped down, capturing me.
The net was suspended from something I could not see, because of that same sooty cloud.
Malachite, the man that the Delta Pearl banished, was at least part of what that noxious cloud concealed.
Malachite was the creator of the clockworks, and they had run away, up into that brown cloud.
End Chapter 64
Oh… well dash my wig! Do answers lead to even more questions? Next time we’ll look back to chapters 38 and 56 where some real steampunkery tech (as I like to call it) came into the story. But now…
For your Valentine’s Day pleasure…
Have you ever thought about the cost of greeting cards compared to books — especially e-books? Not to mention that with e-books you don’t have to worry about any COVID-19 germs hitching a ride.
Fiona Finch & the Pink Valentine, a Steampunk Novelette is only 99¢ for the e-book.
Thanks for visiting. I’d love to hear from you in a comment. Let me repeat myself once again — this is not a forum for critique. If you want this serial to continue — remember that this is my sanctuary — so keep it friendly.
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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