Saturday, May 22, 2021
Welcome, my chuckaboos. I hope everyone is safe and well. The Delta Pearl is back. Today we have the penultimate episode. Or at least I think we do… you never really know around here.
The steampunk riverboat awaits.
The Delta Pearl
Chapter 74 — Stare
Hand firmly clasped over my mouth, I stared in shock at the woman as Malachite’s words came back to me.
“She is exquisite, no?” Malachite remarked in a Cajun accent. “Cécile Pere, mambo extraordinaire. A Voodoo queen of unsurpassed skill and beauty.”
My scream escaped in a yip when the leopard slowly came up beside her. Blue John Boulton hung across the back of the largest clockwork I had ever seen. The dragging sound was from his feet.
Blue let go of the leopard and sank to the floor. Cécile Perle immediately turned her attention to the Mate. Her back was to me as she fussed worriedly over the injured man.
I had only glimpsed her face. I told myself that I was overwrought, that it was my imagination. The face I thought I had seen couldn’t possibly have been real.
“Émeraude, don’t let Cécile use her powers on me. It’s better that I die here and now. I don’t want that kind of unnatural life,” Blue gasped out the plea.
Cécile let out a horrified sob at his words.
“Now, now, cher. It’s not so bad as all that. Just a little gris-gris to keep you going? The Delta Pearl, she needs you,” Cécile told him in a soothing voice.
“Gee-Peh, mon chaton,” the woman began. “Help me get Blue John back into hiding.”
If I had not been so overwhelmed by all the extraordinary things that I had seen in such a short time, I would have been amused. Cécile used a pet name for the leopard that meant “my kitten.”
Also, she had named the huge clockwork Gee-Peh, for the sound he made, rather than for the gems that decorated him, as was customary for the mechanical creatures. Then I realized the name would have been taken. The clockwork jungle cat had inlay of leopard jasper. The Dealer’s name was Jaspe, which meant jasper.
Suddenly I shivered with a suspicion that would haunt me, unanswered for the rest of my days. However, in that moment I knew that everything I had seen up in the Geostrophic Pearl airship was more deeply, intricately connected to the Delta Pearl than I wanted to admit.
Bracing myself for what I would behold, I waited for a clear, rational look at the woman’s face. I wouldn’t let fear cloud my vision again.
However, my resolve was interrupted by soft mechanical sounds — the rustling of wings, the soft clicks of tiny metal feet, the quiet turning of hundreds of gears. Small shadows darted about the room.
“No,” Blue John insisted as he pulled himself to his feet, leaning heavily on the leopard for support. “I’m done with hiding. I’ll face Malachite here and now. I said I would take him to hell with me, and I meant it.”
The Voodoo queen’s back was to me as she stood. She shook her head sadly at Blue. Her shoulders sagged and she muttered Cajun words that I didn’t understand. Then with palms facing upward, she held out both hands.
“Come to me my pets,” Cécile murmured as Peridot fluttered from her hand up to her breast where a brooch would be pinned.
From out of the shadows, clockwork creatures of every shape imaginable moved toward her. A ruby encrusted scorpion, a gold grasshopper, and a jade gecko, hurried forward and crawled into her hands.
“Onyx!” I gasped as the Captain’s owl flew to land on the woman’s shoulder.
His little top hat was askew when his brass head turned backwards to look at me. The black onyx eyes blinked at me once. Then the owl tilted his head and winked at me.
Clockwork creatures continued to emerge from corners and hidden crannies. A silver swan, a citrine bumble bee, and a sapphire bluebird flew to perch on Cécile’s outstretched arms. A moonstone monkey, a rainbow fluorite rabbit, a small rose quartz kangaroo, and a gold grasshopper hopped to stand beside the mambo. Soft clicks and whirs from dozens of other clockworks filled the room.
The Voodoo queen turned toward the empty hallway. Light flashed off the cheval mirror. A tall thin man in a green pinstripe tuxedo was in the reflection. Malachite. He was coming closer.
“I fear it is too late for hiding,” Cécile murmured. “He comes.”
Then she turned to face me. That time I really did scream.
End Chapter 74
If you want to know more about Tipu’s Tiger, click here.
Sorry if that ends on a bit of déjà vu. All I can say is…
Dead of Winter: Journey 6, The Fluting Fell
The Delta Pearl is not the only place where I leave characters dangling. Dead of Winter: Journey 5, Llyn Pistyll Falls ended with a whopper of a cliffhanger. Those of you who are part of the Journeys will be glad to know that I’m hard at work, finalizing the June issue. Here’s the cover.
Dead of Winter — The Journeys
If you said you didn’t want to read Dead of Winter until there were several installments available, well… Emlyn, the Deae Matres, and company would love to make your acquaintance. Also, Journey 5 ends on a true cliffhanger.
Journey 5, Llyn Pistyll Falls
Journey 4, The Old Road
Journey 3, the Fever Field
Journey 2, Penllyn
Journey 1, Forlorn Peak
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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