The Sorceress and her Lovers – Chapter 15 Excerpt

“Are you going to kick me out again at teatime?” asked Baxter, folding his arms and looking down at Senta.

She was reclining across a Mirsannan divan.  She wore a long, flowing silk gown that completely covered her charms, though on the wall directly above her was a photograph of her and her mother reclining on the same piece of furniture—both nude.  She reached up to rub her long, exposed neck. Then she ran her hand over her head, her blond tresses about the same length as his own red hair.

“Of course not,” she smiled.  “I want you to be here.  These girls today are my oldest and dearest friends and they’ll want to see you. Afterwards you can run along so that they can all tell me how jealous they are.”

“What about yesterday?”

“That was different.  It was more of an obligation.  I know that Graham’s sister will see me with you sooner or later, but I didn’t want to throw it in her face the moment I got back.”

“It’s been a long time,” he said.  “He’s been gone a long time.”

“Almost four years, but when I see Gaylene, it’s like it was yesterday.  Not like now—now it feels like it was eons ago. It’s a kind of magic, you know.”

“So I’m invited?”

“You’re more than invited.  How did they say it when you were in the navy?  You’re requested and required.  You can skip out tomorrow if you like.  The same girls will be back again, along with some others.  But you have to be here the day after.  The governor and her family are coming.”

“Really?”

“Oh, yes.  You’re living in sin with a very important mucky-muck.”

“Should I dress?” he asked.

“We always dress for tea in this house—unless we don’t.”

He stared at her for a moment, and then shrugged his shoulders and left the room. Senta knew he was going upstairs to dress.  He had been given over for his own use one of the thirty rooms in the three-story mansion, but he had spent both nights in Senta’s bed.  Looking up at the clock, she decided that she should dress too.

Climbing the stairs still causes a pain in her chest where she had been shot, but it was the only time now that she thought about it.  At the top of the sweeping staircase, she waved her hand, magically summoning her lizzie dressing maid.  The deep olive reptilian appeared from a room at the end of the hall and met her as she stepped into her boudoir.

One of only three servants in the house as of yet, Aggie was new.  Cheery the butler, and Thonass the maid had worked for Senta for years and had taken care of the house while she was away. Thonass had given Aggie the recommendation.  They were from the same family—or what passed for family among the lizzies.

“Something pretty today,” she told the reptilian.  “Bring me my yellow and white striped day dress.”

“Yess.”

The dress was a traditional one.  Cut for a medium-sized bustle, the skirt was vertically lined with broad yellow and white stripes while the bodice was a solid yellow with puffy frills of lace around the high neck and at the end of each long sleeve.  She topped off the ensemble with yellow emeralds dangling from her pierced ears.  She slipped a ring on her right hand that featured a yellow garnet.  It was practically worthless, but she had purchased it in Bangdorf because she thought it was pretty.

“Nice,” said the dressing maid.

“I was just thinking the same thing,” said Baxter, stepping into the room. He was sharp in his grey suit.  He was always sharp.

“Thank you, kind sir,” she said with a curtsey.  “Shall we go down?”

Suddenly the baby began fussing from her crib in the next room.

“I’ll be down in a minute,” said Baxter, following her cries.

“Hmm,” she murmured, observing him.  Then she turned to the dressing maid.  “I’m going down to set up.  Tell Thonass to find me.”

In the dining room, Senta found the table set with the everyday china, but the food for the afternoon tea filled several wooden crates stacked nearby.  Having no one to cook and no one really to serve, she had ordered the tea catered from Café Etta.

“Uuthanum,” she said and the food began flying out of the crates, soaring around the room, and landing on the appropriate plates and serving platters. A spice cake was coming into a landing in the center of the table with Thonass stepped into the room.

“Take this envelope,” said Senta, retrieving the stated item from the lamp table along the wall.  “Deliver it to the employment agency at the Department of Lizzie Affairs.  It is a list of the other servants I shall need.”

“Yess,” said the lizzie.

As Thonass was going out, Cheery was coming in.

“Guests,” he said.

“Bring them on into the dining room please.”

The reptilian stepped out and came back a few seconds later leading three young women.

“Senta!” squealed Hero Markham, rushing forward and wrapping her arms around the sorceress’s waist.  “I’ve missed you so much!  Look at your hair.  You look like a boy.”

“Well it’s good to be appreciated.  You look wonderful.  How’s the baby?”

“Brilliant.”

“She’s beautiful too,” said Gabrielle Bassett from behind Hero.  She looks just like her mother.

Taller than Hero, though still shorter than Senta, Gabrielle was radiantly beautiful with sparkling blue eyes and ash brown hair.  Behind her stood the third young woman.  Dutty Morris was attractive but not pretty.  Though her widely spaced eyes gave her a kind of blank expression, she was witty and kind.

“Hello, Gabby,” said Senta, disentangling herself from Hero and giving the other two girls quick kisses on the cheek.  “Hi Dutty.  Thanks for coming yesterday.”

“It was my pleasure,” said Dutty.  “And I didn’t give away any of your secrets either.”

“What secrets?” asked Gabby and Hero at the same time.

Advertisements

Senta and the Steel Dragon Characters

Senta Bly is the title character from the Senta and the Steel Dragon series.  The funny thing about Senta is that I never intended to write a book about her, let alone make her the main character in a series. Here now, I’ve chronicled her life from age 6 to 34, in ten books.  I originally wrote a description from her viewpoint that was supposed to showcase the setting of Brech City. When I eventually plotted out the trilogy that would become books 1, 3, and 5 of the Senta and the Steel Dragon Series, she took on more and more importance. When I added books 0, 2, and 4 to the mix, the entire story really became her story.

Senta is precocious and self-confident. As she grows up she learns more and more magic and discovers that she is a powerful sorceress. One of the most fun things about writing this series is that the characters are so inter-connected. Senta has relationships of one sort or another with more than a hundred major and minor characters. Hopefully this diversity makes her as much fun to read about as she is to write about.

There is a book ten of the series (technically the eleventh book, since there is a book 0) and it will probably come out next year.

The Young Sorceress – Chapter 1 Excerpt

Birmisia was full of life in the spring.  Wildflowers seemed to suddenly appear just about everywhere.  The days were warm and wet, with frequent fog and almost daily rain showers.  The giant maples grew new leaves, adding their lustrous green to the ever-present deep emerald of the tremendous pines.  Ferns opened up their fronds in the dappled light beneath the mighty trees and in those places with no light, large and varied mushrooms showed their rounded heads.  Plants were not the only life forms present though.  The land was alive with both birds and beasts.  One could easily spot cormorants, snipes, rails, and wrens hopping through the trees along with the strange four-winged microraptors.  A few godwits, grebes, puffins, and pelicans occasionally strayed inland from the shore.  On the ground caudipteryx, buitreraptors, bambiraptors, meilong, and mahakala ran among the ferns looking for small lizards and snakes and large insects, which were everywhere.  They didn’t bother the opossums or the mice, which stayed snug in their dens until nightfall.  In the open areas huge iguanodons grazed, sometimes accompanied by triceratops and ankylosaurs.  Most of the large predators like the tyrannosaurs and utahraptors had become scarce due to the presence of man, though the velociraptors and deinonychus were still thick, as happy to scavenge human trash as to hunt the other Birmisian creatures.

A flock of seven velociraptors made their way down the road. They went in fits and starts, pausing to snatch a lizard or small rodent from among the ferns and squawking at each other.  They were, like all of their species, covered with hairy feathers, yellow near their small arms, and green everywhere else.  Most of this particular group had a black band around the base of their necks. They were only about two and a half feet tall, but their long tails stretched straight out almost five feet. The most famous features of the velociraptors were their feet, each of which had a three-inch claw curving upward, and their long many-toothed snouts, more like something one would expect to see on a crocodile than on a bird.  The leader of the flock raised its head as it spotted a human walking toward them from down the lane.

Velociraptors seldom hunted human beings unless one was wandering alone and injured.  It had little to do with size.  Some of the animals that fell to the feathered runners were much larger than man-size.  Though velociraptors were not known for their intelligence, they possessed a cunning that matched most aerial birds of prey and this allowed them to determine which potential targets were more likely to become their supper than the other way around. Simply put, most humans didn’t act like prey.  A few did. They started, and jumped with fear. But most didn’t.  They didn’t quite act like predators either.  They blundered around the forest without regard to what they might run into.  To the velociraptors, they were simply too confusing to be bothered with unless there was nothing else to eat.  And in spring, here in Birmisia, there was plenty to eat.

Regardless of their intent on hunting this particular human, the flock fanned out, following their instinctual behavior for both hunting and defense.  Three took positions on either side of the road, moving in and among the shelter of the trees, while the leader moved into direct confrontation.  This way they formed a triangular trap around the animal, in this case a human, directing it forward and keeping its attention away from potential attackers on the side.  What happened next cemented in the tiny minds of the velociraptors as much as anything could, that this human was a poor choice for prey.

This human being was a teenaged female, and though biologists still debate whether velociraptors can distinguish between the sexes of mammals, others of her kind could immediately recognize her gender by the long flowing deep violet velvet dress, made more expansive by an extensive bustle over her rear end, and the long flowing blond hair held back by the deep violet velvet ribbon fastened on the side.  Tens of thousands of other human beings could in fact identify this particular human female, because this particular human female was the young sorceress Senta Bly.  She was hurrying home from the Hertling house where she had enjoyed afternoon tea. When she noticed the brightly feathered creature standing directly in her path, she flipped her hand toward it and muttered a single word under her breath.  A bright blue ball of energy flew from her fingers to the velociraptor, which exploded into a puff of yellow, green, and black feathers.  Its comrades disappeared into the forest.

Senta had scarcely passed the spot in which the velociraptor had stood when she was brought to a stop by a honking coming from behind. She turned around to see a shiny steam carriage chugging down the road toward her.  As she waited, the vehicle slowed and came to a stop.  A tall man in the uniform of a police sergeant looked down at her.  His thick blond hair, flashing moss green eyes, and confidant air made him handsome in a way that the recently acquired bend in his nose couldn’t detract from.

“You shouldn’t walk on this side of town alone,” said Police Sergeant Saba Colbshallow.  “Velociraptors have been thick lately.”

Senta nodded.

“Nice car.  I didn’t know you were so rich,” she said.

“It’s police property, as you well know little girl.”

“I’m not a little girl,” replied Senta.  “I’ll be fifteen in six days.”

“Don’t I know it?  I’ve got it marked on my calendar.  Climb in.  I’ll give you a ride home.”

“It’s only about a hundred yards.”

“Sure, but how often do you get to ride in a steam carriage?”

“I don’t think they’re safe.  They used to blow up all the time back in Brech.”

“You’ve never ridden in a steam carriage have you?” Saba grinned.  “The Drache Girl is too frightened to ride in a car?”

Senta stuck out her lip.  “I’m not frightened.”

Saba reached across the passenger seat and offered her his hand.  She stared at it for just a moment, then accepted it, and climbed up onto the empty seat, reaching behind to ensure she didn’t flatten her bustle.  A quick press on the forward accelerator sent the car shooting down the gravel road.

“You’ve passed my house,” said Senta.

“I thought we could take a turn around the block.”

Back on Track for Real

Well, I’m back at work today and I’m feeling pretty good.  I still have to follow up with a pulmonologist and a hematologist, neither of which I even knew existed.  In any case, I’m good, and not going to die anytime soon.  Now I can get back to work.

It should be obvious by now that His Robot Wife: Patience Under Fire is not going to be published in September.  It’s not going to be October either.  At this point, I am still hoping for 2018 though.  I’m really happy with what I’ve written, but no so happy with how much. Stay tuned here for updates.

Off Track and In the Hospital

I was happily getting caught up with my writing, when I hit a little snag.  I couldn’t breathe.  Turns out I had a pulmonary embolism– a blood clot in my lungs (actually more than one– more than several).  I spent some time in the hospital, and thought I could do some writing, since I had my trusty MacBook.  I didn’t take into account the IVs in my wrist making it all but impossible to type.

Well, now I’m home again and ready to get started again.  Maybe I can’t breathe easy, but at least now I can breathe.

Patreon

I’d like to take a moment to thank those who support me on Patreon.  These wonderful people are spending some of their hard-earned money to support me and my writing on a monthly basis.  They, along with those who buy my books, make it possible for me to write rather than take a second job.

I don’t want to whine about how little teachers are paid.  Most are already aware of this fact, and sadly, this is unlikely to change any time soon.  Many teacher spend their summers and their weekends working in malls and temp agencies.  I decided a few years ago that I would attempt to support my family by writing.  Some months I sell many ebooks and this seems like a good idea.  Other months… not so much.  The supporters on Patreon help by providing a regular monthly supplement to book sales that guarantee that I can keep doing what I’m doing.

If you would like to join those fine people who currently support me, and to earn a few small perks doing so, visit https://www.patreon.com/wesleyallison.

The Drache Girl – Chapter 10 Excerpt

Saba Colbshallow rapped his knuckles on the front door of the five-story structure, again, louder than he had before, but there was just as little response as there had been the first time.

“Police constable!” he called.  He waited a bit longer, and was just about to leave when he heard a distinctly sultry voice from inside.

“Who is it?”

“Police constable,” he said again.

The door opened and Zurfina stood in the doorway, her strange little leather dress displaying a good portion of her breasts with their star tattoos as well as her long legs.   Her thigh high boots had such high heels that she could almost look Saba in the eye.

“Yes?  What is it?” she said, with the air of someone who had just been interrupted in the middle of something vitally important.

“May I come in?” he asked.

With an exaggerated sigh, the sorceress turned her back and walked into the house, leaving the door wide open.  Saba followed her in and looked around the large room that formed the lower level of the structure.  It was, he thought, a surprisingly mundane looking combination of kitchen, parlor, and dining room.  The place was tidy and organized, none of the furnishings looking particularly worn or new, expensive or poor.  Zurfina waved her hand and the door slammed shut behind him, causing him to jump a little.

“Well?”

Saba swallowed.  He had known Zurfina for four years now, and found her just as wondrous, mysterious, and fascinating as he had when he was sixteen.  He had of course grown up to be a police constable, but she had grown to be a legend. She was an attractive woman: not as beautiful as Mrs. Dechantagne of course, not as charming as Mrs. Dechantagne-Calliere was at least capable of being, and nowhere near as adorable as Miss Lusk. Neither did she have the curvaceous figure of Dr. Kelloran.  But as writer Geert Resnick wrote in his novelThe Pale Sun, “the painting that most draws one to it, is not the most beautiful, but the one hanging to the wall by the most tenuous thread.”  Zurfina held the same appeal as a fast horse, an unstable bomb, or a canoe in a river filled with crocodiles.  And there was power.  Power was always appealing.

Zurfina sensed his hesitation and moved to stand very close to him.

“Now, little Saba,” she said, with exaggerated slowness.  “What brings you to see Zurfina the Magnificent?”

Saba had perfected his stare: a piercing look that let those he was interviewing know that he would brook no nonsense.  He gave the sorceress one of these stares, but it didn’t seem to work as well as it was supposed to.  She stepped a little closer and he suddenly realized he could smell her breath.  It was minty.

“Little Saba.”  Her charcoaled grey eyes seemed to be looking at something just below the surface of his face.

He swallowed.

“Police Constable Colbshallow,” he corrected.

She leaned forward so that the tip of her nose was only an inch from his.

“Little Saba,” she repeated.  “There’s something you’ve been dying to tell me.”

“No there isn’t.”

“Then why are you here?”

“I’m here about a Miss Amadea Jindra.”

Zurfina leaned back and scrunched up her nose.  “Now what business is that of yours?”

He retrieved the notepad from his coat pocket and flipped it open.  Turning so that he had better light to read by, he took the opportunity step away from the sorceress.

“It was reported that you kidnapped, um… acquired Miss Jindra from the deck of the S.S. Arrow four days ago, and no one has seen her since.”

“I say again, what business is it of yours?”  Zurfina spoke distinctly, chopping each word as if came out of her mouth. The temperature of the room dropped several degrees.

“You cannot simply snatch people off the street…” His voice trailed off as he noticed the sorceress’s eyes flashing.

Zurfina folded her arms across her chest and raised one eyebrow.  At that moment the door swung open and Senta walked in. Her bright pink dress peaked out from beneath a heavy white overcoat, with a fur trimmed hood.  She was carrying a large bed pillow under each arm. She kicked the door shut with the heel of her shoe, and walked over to stand next to the sorceress.  She looked first at Zurfina and then at Saba.

“Okay,” said Senta.  “What’s going on?”

“Little Saba was just telling me what I can and cannot do.”

“Well, this isn’t going to end up well, and you know who will have to clean up the mess?  Me, that’s who.  Here are your pillows,” Senta shoved the pillows into Zurfina’s hands.

Once the sorceress had taken the pillows, Senta took Saba by the hand and led him toward the front door.

“Let’s talk outside.  I love the smell of pine trees and chimney smoke.”  She led him outside, closing the front door behind her.  “What exactly are you doing?”

“Conducting police business.”

“Stopping me from taking care of those wankers who shot Bessemer has gone to your head, eh?”

“This is my job.  This is what I do,” said Saba.  “I protect the public peace.”

“And do you ever think about how you would do that job if you were turned into, say, I don’t know, a pig?”

“A pig?”

“Maybe a pig.  Could be anything really.  I thought I was about to see a Police Constable shaped lawn ornament.  But then I don’t have Zurfina’s wide experience and peculiar wit.”

“Well I have to go back in and talk to her.”

“Did they have to take your brain out to make that helmet fit?”

“That’s not funny little girl.  I have to find out what she did with Miss Jindra.”