Senta and the Steel Dragon – Augustus Dechantagne

Augustus Dechantagne, or Augie, is the youngest of the three Dechantagne siblings and the only one to have actually visited Birmisia, the land where they intend to establish a colony. He is a former artillary officer and is fluent in several languages, but neither his sister nor his brother truly appreciates him. Augie is a happy go-lucky, friendly ladies’ man, but he is also a suspect in a series of murders.

Senta and the Steel Dragon – Terrence Dechantagne

Terrence is the eldest of the three Dechantagne siblings, and has planned, along with his sister, to reinvigorate his family fortune by financing a colony in the distant land of Birmisia. Terrence is a former cavalry officer and an adventurer and is the only one his sister trusts. But Terrence also has a dark secret. He is addicted to a magical hallucinogenic drug, which not only causes the user to see things, but to actually experience them. White Opthalium, Vizio, or See Spice is rubbed onto the eyeballs and transports the user to a strange alternate reality.

The Voyage of the Minotaur – Chapter 15 Excerpt

“I believe it to be a function of their reptilian nature,” replied the professor. “They can eat great amounts of meat at one time and then go without for perhaps weeks. I’m sure that this will be of benefit to us once they begin fulfilling their purpose as our natural servants.”
Zeah didn’t pay too much attention to the professor’s pronouncement—in truth, he seldom paid a great deal of attention to what Calliere said—but this time it was because of the presence of Egeria Lusk at Calliere’s side. She wore a teal brocaded dinner gown with large gold buttons from the neck to below the waist, and a straw boater with a teal ribbon around it.
“You look lovely Egeria,” Zeah thought he probably sounded as though he was gushing, but he didn’t care.
“Thank you, Zeah,” she said. “I must say you look ruggedly handsome.”
Zeah looked down at himself. He had been wearing the same type of khaki safari clothing that the soldiers wore. In fact, he had requested a set of the clothing from the mercenary company supplies when he found that he would be spending the day playing tour guide to an oversized lizard. He had to admit that the color accentuated his tall, thin form. And he thought the stone knife blade worn at his belt made him look manly. He took her hand and led her away from the crowd.
“I haven’t seen much of you the past two days,” he said.
“Don’t expect to see much of me the next few days either,” she said. “The Result Mechanism is being brought ashore tomorrow and the professor will need help getting it up and running. After that I need to input the measurements from the survey.”
After watching the look on his face for a moment, she burst out laughing. “You really are medicine for the ego! If you’re going to be all that broken up about not seeing me, you might as well come by and help me with the great machine.” She said the words “great machine” in an abnormally deep voice.
Zeah perked right up.
“I might just do that,” he said, guaranteeing himself in his own mind that he would.
The next morning, most of the colonists were amazed to find that the lizardmen had all left. Only the sentries had seen them rise early in the morning, gather together their meager gear and the collection of gifts of food and manufactured goods which the humans had given them, and exit through the gate in the wall. They took nothing which did not rightfully belong to them, and they left no word with anyone that they were leaving—anyone being Master Augie, who was the only one fluent in their language.
Zeah knew that Miss Dechantagne’s plans for the colony ultimately depended on the lizardmen. They would be needed extensively for manual labor. He also knew that Miss Dechantagne had negotiated well into the night with Chief Ssithtsutsu. He didn’t know what the outcome was. He had better things to do that listen to Master Augie’s back and forth translation. Better things being looking at and talking to Egeria. All the same, he was glad that the Lizzies were gone. They were so very… well, reptilian.
Zeah placed his khakis in the laundry and put on a grey suit. Without the lizardman at his side, it just didn’t seem right to be wearing jungle clothing, especially since they weren’t really in a jungle. Technically this was a rain forest, but the huge redwoods and spruce trees certainly did not constitute a jungle. Starting directly into his morning duties, as he always did, Zeah took his clipboard in hand and went to check on each of the individuals he was overseeing. The need of almost one thousand individuals for fresh food was great. A number of different plans for supplying those needs had been developed. Hunters were again being sent out to procure meat and if possible to capture more local animals for domestication. Another group of men and women would search once again for edible plants, this endeavor having proven fruitful (Zeah laughed to himself at the pun), and another group had been assigned the job of fishermen. They would do their fishing from the shore of the bay. Finally, with a mind to the long term, several areas around the hill where the barracks were located were tagged as locations for gardens, and forty colonists would prepare them for planting.

Senta and the Steel Dragon – Iolanthe Dechantagne

Iolanthe Dechantage is one of the major characters in the “Senta and the Steel Dragon” series. In fact, as I originally imagined it, she was the main charcter with Senta just sort of being the eyes and ears of the reader. The more of the story I wrote, the more it became Senta’s story.
Iolanthe Dechantage is the scion of a once pretigious and wealthy Brech family that has since fallen in both respects. She is determined to return her family to its past prestige and affluence. Along with her brothers Terrence and Augustus she devises a bold plan to commit all their resources to starting a colony on the coast of distant Birmisia.
Suddenly a figure approached the left side of her carriage. It was a dirty man, wearing dirty clothes, with a dirty bald head, and a big dirty nose. He stepped in close to her and ran his eyes down the length of her form. Another, similarly dressed man stepped up behind him.

“Well, this is nice, ain’t it?” said the second man. “We can have us a little fun.”
“Yeah, fun” said first man, pulling a long, thin knife from his belt.

“Careful though,” said second man. “She might have a little pistol in her handbag.”
“Does you have a little pistol in you handbag, Dearie?” the first man asked. He casually waved the knife in his right hand, as he pawed at her ankle with his left. Then he stopped when he heard the sound of two hammers being cocked, and looked up into the twin twelve gauge barrels.
“I don’t carry a handbag,” said Iolanthe, pulling the shotgun to her shoulder.
Iolanthe is serious and unemotional (some would say cold and hard). She is focused on the goal of reviving her family fortune, and anything else (and anyone else) is expendable. She might have a soft side, but few have ever seen it. The only one she considers her equal is her brother Terrence.
“Kafira’s blood, Iolanthe!”

Iolanthe pursed her lips.
“It was Yuah. Don’t you even care?”

“Yes, I know it was Yuah. And of course I care.”
“It didn’t seem like it. God, Iolanthe. I grew up with Yuah. We used to play together. She’s like our sister.”

“I know,” said Iolanthe. “I know and I care. I care just as much for her as I do for you.”
Augie looked her in the eye for a moment. “That’s what I’m afraid of.” He turned and started to walk away.

The Voyage of the Minotaur – Chapter 14 Excerpt

Iolanthe dismissed the three men and walked swiftly to the stern of the ship where Yuah was awaiting her. The dressing maid was wearing a simple grey wool dress over a white linen foundation. Her hair was pulled up into a tight bun, but even its severity didn’t take away from her obvious beauty. Though Iolanthe was accounted one of the most beautiful women in the great city of Brech, she recognized the truth that few did—Yuah was more beautiful. Their difference in wealth, status, and religion obscured the fact, but it was a fact, none the less.
“Did you see Terrence just now?”
“Yes Miss.”
“You’ve been checking up on him, I know.”
“Yes Miss.”
“He doesn’t look very good. Is he… alright?”
“Yes. I don’t know. I think so.”
Putting thoughts of her brother or the relative attractiveness of her dressing maid aside, Iolanthe toured the ship from stem to stern, from the main deck to the lowest deck. There was much to do and she intended to make sure that it was all done and done properly. When an obvious need presented itself, she assigned the task immediately. When a need was less obvious, she gave Yuah a note to remind her about it later. When they reached deck four, Yuah stopped unexpectedly.
“What is the matter?” asked Iolanthe.
“This is my deck,” said Yuah. “My cabin is just up on the right.”
“Yes?”
“Well, there are too many doors in this hallway. The doorway… here,” she pointed to the second door on the left. “That door shouldn’t be here.”
Iolanthe smiled. “Excellent.” She walked over and rapped sharply on the door.
It opened and Senta, Zurfina’s ward, looked out with a puzzled look on her face. Iolanthe was sure that it was the first time during the entire voyage from Brechalon that anyone had knocked on the door.
“Is your mistress at home?” asked Iolanthe.
The girl nodded. A moment later she was replaced in the doorway by the sorceress. She had evidently just gotten out of bed, and was clad in an ankle length but completely sheer nightgown. With no shoes on her feet, she was several inches shorter than Iolanthe.
“Yes?”
“We have an assignment for you, sorceress,” said Iolanthe. “The creatures in the bay need to be driven away from the area where we are planning to build a dock. They need to be kept permanently away, or at least long enough for the construction to be completed.”
“I will take care of it,” said the sorceress, and closed the door.
Iolanthe turned around to look at her dressing maid with an uncharacteristically broad smile upon her face.
“That was most satisfying,” she said. “Thank you.”
“Yes Miss.”
“I think it’s about time for lunch,” said Iolanthe.
“If you’ll let me know the menu and the guest list, I’ll contact Mrs. Colbshallow and the wait staff.”
“I was thinking that you and I could have lunch.”
Yuah stood looking blankly for a moment, and then placed the palm of her hand against the wall of the corridor as though she were steadying herself in uneven seas.
“No need to look as though you’re going to pass out,” said Iolanthe.
“No Miss, It’s just…”
“Consider it a weak moment.”
“You don’t have weak moments, Miss.”
“No, well. You see Yuah, I don’t have any friends here.”
“You don’t have any friends back home either, Miss.”
“Thank you for your merciless honesty, Yuah,” said Iolanthe. “Peers then. This is a new world. If I’m going to have any kind of social life at all, I’m going to need a new group with whom to socialize—a new class if you will.”
“I won’t fit into that class, Miss,” said Yuah. “I’m the wrong religion.”
“No one is going to care about that anymore.” “People will always care, Miss.”

Senta and the Steel Dragon – Brech

The story of Senta and the Steel Dragon begins in the great city of Brech, although the scene moves on to other locations after chapter eight of The Voyage of the Minotaur. Brech is patternend after Edwardian London, with the addition of some steampunk ideas (specifically steam-powered automobiles). Horse drawn trolleys ply the streets and coal powered industry has left a fine covering of soot over everything. Fortunately there are plenty of orphans to employ in cleaning surfaces. The city is split by the River Thiss (pronounced Tiss) which brings ship traffic from the sea.
image Copyright 2009 by Clipart.com

The Voyage of the Minotaur – Chapter 13 Excerpt

It was chilly and wisps of mist hung in the air. On the distant shore, beyond the wall formed by impossibly tall redwood trees, large spruces, massive maple and bay trees, filled in between by thick huckleberry and azalea bushes and wave upon wave of rhododendron, some giant and no doubt frightening monster roared out a challenge. From its tiny animal carrier on deck, the little dragon answered.
“Gawp!”
Senta stepped onto the deck and knelt down by the box. Zurfina had dressed her in another weird outfit, this one a floor length black dress with a white collar. A black ceramic rose right in the front of her neck that made it difficult to look down at the high-heeled black sandals on her feet. Of course Zurfina had on a matching dress, and cut a striking figure standing along the railing of the forward deck with the Captain, Miss Dechantagne, the Dechantagne brothers, and other notables, all of whom were dressed in light summer clothing, as they surveyed the coastline.
“Pet!” said the dragon.
“Yep, it’s me,” said Senta. “I’m going to take you out, but you have to have your leash on.”
The dragon hissed. She opened the door of the carrier and the dragon climbed out onto the top. He turned his head and pointedly looked the other direction as she snapped the little chain onto the ring around his ankle. Once the little clip had snapped shut, Senta attached the other end of the chain to a bracelet on her right wrist.
“See there. We’re both chained by the wrist. Nobody’s the boss.”
“Gawp.” said the dragon, and then spreading its wings to balance, it climbed up her arm and onto her shoulder. It slithered down to lie across her shoulders, one hand and one foot holding onto her dress and one hand and one foot holding onto her hair. Senta stood up. The little dragon was now over four feet long from nose to tip of tail, but he was only about six inches thick across the belly and he was surprisingly light.
“What do you want to do?”
“Gawp.”
“Me too. This is sooo boring.”
The ship had been sailing parallel to the coast for the past four days and Senta was getting tired of it. What was the point of sailing all the way to Mallon, if you didn’t get out and walk around on it? Twenty days was more than enough time to explore every square inch of the largest battleship and Senta had spent more than three times that length of time on the Minotaur. Not even murders, gunfights, and drinking wine until you threw up could take away the boredom forever.
“Fina,” said the dragon.
“Alright.”
Senta walked toward the front of the ship. She had gone only about halfway to where Zurfina and the others stood watching the coastline roll past, when a figure stepped out of the shadows. A freckled face and striped shirt quickly identified the shady figure.
“Hey Graham,” said Senta.
“Hi Senta. What’ya doing?”
“Nothing. He wants to go up by the grown-ups.” She indicated the dragon with her thumb.
“Can I come?”
“Sure. Just don’t get too close, cause he’ll bite you.”
“I thought he was tame.”
“You can’t tame a dragon. Zurfina says you can’t tame anything that’s smarter than you are.”
“Who says he’s smarter than me?” Graham was indignant.
“Not just you, stupid. Dragons are super smart. When he gets big, he’ll be able to talk and do
magic and all kinds of cool stuff.”
“Brill,” said the boy.