Saturday, March 20, 2021
Yes, I know St. Patrick’s Day is over. I just enjoyed the thought of this lovely tabby in that soft cushion of clover, and I had to use the image again. Don’t worry. The steampunk riverboat is here, my chuckaboos!
Last time we got a glimpse of an injured Blue John Boulton. He was up there somewhere inside that sooty cloud that’s been following the riverboat around. That’s about all we could tell from the limited perspective offered by Victor’s telectroscope. I’m sure there has to be something housing the few pieces of furniture, the clockwork creatures, and Blue. Just what that might be remains to be seen. Whatever those confines are, something seemed to be chasing the Mate. The only clue we got from him before he ran out of view was questionable. It might have been “tune” of possibly “tone.” Then again maybe our lovebirds misinterpreted it.
What could possibly happen next?
The Delta Pearl
Chapter 67 — View
Singing the song about a woman feeling like a bird in a gilded cage made me think of the old portrait, which had always fascinated me. The subject of the painting was a beautiful woman. She was from some undetermined past century. In the scene, the painter included a myriad of details.
A riverbank formed the background to one side. A tiny figure on the stood there. An owl who looked surprisingly like Onyx sat in a branch. Across the river, the woman sat on a balcony, which was enclosed by a fence of ornate golden bars. Furniture and knickknacks were all around. Her hand rested on an elaborately designed music box. Around her neck was a ribbon from which an intricately carved cameo hung.
My hand went to the nearly identical cameo that I wore. I never understood why the woman looked familiar to me. Then, Blue John had laughed at my comment, and said the woman looked exactly like me.
A whoop and shouts from the main deck indicated that Sid and the others had finished the new rocket. However, Victor and I were so entranced by the images at the other end of the telectroscope that we barely noticed.
“Blue John is in trouble and injured. We’ve got to tell the Captain!” Victor exclaimed, no longer paying attention to the clockworks.
Muffled squeaks pulled my attention back to the screen. The owl turned toward the large tome that resembled my reception book that listed all the guests of the Delta Pearl.
The book moved slightly. Amethyst swung to the book on her silver thread. Onyx gave a flap of his wings and hopped to stand beside the book. He used his beak, trying to lift the heavy cover. Amethyst braced her front legs against the cover and pushed.
“Yes. You go tell him — or the Dealer. Whoever you see first. I’ll keep an eye on this,” I said with a motion to the device.
“He’s been acting strangely,” Victor began. “Even more unreadable than usual. It makes me think he’s worried. I’ve noticed he gets that way whenever that cloud is around,” he finished with a glance up at the brown cloud.
“I know. The idea of anything making Jaspe worried is enough to terrify me.” I replied.
Victor hurried down the stairs. When he reached the main deck, I heard him shout to Sid and Coral. Based on the sounds of multiple footfalls, the entire group that had been working on the rocket followed Victor.
I turned back to the image. The top of the big book shifted minutely. I heard a soft puttering, “pat-pat” sound coming from under its cover.
The deep grinding noise got louder. With a metal clank, two big spotted paws came onto the table where the book lay. The spots were from gemstone inlayed on the machinery.
“Leopard jasper,” I murmured as I stared apprehensively.
To my astonishment a jungle cat rose up into view. Never had I seen a clockwork so large! Its “growl” was like the coarse grinding of gears followed by a quick sound like the gears abruptly stopping — gee-peh.
The mechanical leopard used its nose to lift the book cover and flip it open. I heard what I could only describe as a satisfied growl. The pages appeared hold handwritten lists, similar to my reception book. However, I couldn’t make out any of the words from the angle of my view.
The clockwork leopard lowered its nose to the pages of the book. A much smaller clockwork inched toward the leopard’s nose.
“Gee-peh,” the jungle cat snorted.
The clockwork bookworm moved with surprising speed toward the leopard. Light glittered from round faceted eyes of bright blue apatite. It pulled a pendant behind itself as it rapidly inched.
“Pat-pat,” the apatite bookworm grunted with the effort of moving the pendant.
I gathered the necklace had dropped into the pages of the book and was forgotten. Then I got a better look at the pendant.
“It’s just like my cameo!” I gasped.
Gentle rasping came to my ears. The sound was similar to dry leaves moving in a breeze. However, I recognized the rustle of crisp taffeta cloth. The sound swished closer.
The two unfamiliar clockwork creatures looked up toward the rustling. Taffeta fabric came to the edge of the screen.
Inhaling a sharp breath, I felt to make sure my revolver was holstered on my thigh. I breathed a prayer of thanks to the Captain and the Dealer for teaching me to use it at an early age.
I fled down the narrow stairs. When I reached the main deck, I was relieved to find the new rocket unattended.
My mind was such a chaotic mess that I didn’t have a spare thought for nervousness. I gave a last stunned look, up at the sooty cloud. Then I harnessed myself to the contraption.
Squeezing my eyes shut, I rocketed skyward.
End Chapter 67
Blue John is back… or sort of anyway. I’m not sure if that tells us anything… except that he’s injured. How badly, we don’t know. Dash my wig if that dratted song isn’t back too. Hmmm.
Dead of Winter
My new Amazon serial is in its third monthly installment. This series will run for about a year. I’ve been giving free serials here for many years. Now I also have this serial of novelettes at Amazon (and Kobo). This lets you have a nice-sized visit with the detailed world I created, and they cost less than a magazine. Join the journeys and explore this fantasy world where you’ll find oppression and those how oppose it, two determined young women, a mysterious society, danger, magic, and more.
Journey 3, the Fever Field
Journey 2, Penllyn
Journey 1, Forlorn Peak
anks for visiting. I’d love to hear from you in a comment. Remember — 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.
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