The Drache Girl – Chapter 9 Excerpt

The S.S. Queen of Expy was the largest ship yet to dock at Port Dechantagne, almost twice as large, in terms of tonnage, as the H.M.S. Minotaur, the battleship that had brought the first colonists to this shore.  Her four massive smokestacks were no longer pouring out giant black clouds as they had done all the way from Greater Brechalon. The great ship was now, ever so slowly, turning without the aid of any tugs, so that she could connect to a dock that was so much more primitive than she was used to.  It all put Saba Colbshallow in mind of a very fat lady trying to maneuver herself around in a bathtub.

“How long do you suppose before they can get the gangplank up?” wondered Eamon Shrubb, who like Saba stood in his heavy blue reefer jacket and blue constable’s helmet.

Saba consulted his pocket watch.  The ornate little hands showed 10:30.  A snowflake settled upon its glass face, just above the six.  He turned his face skyward and saw a few more large white flakes falling toward him.

“A while,” he said.  “Tea?”

Eamon nodded, and the entire police force walked across the gravel road to the cart that Aalwijn Finkler had set up to sell hot drinks and cakes.

There were exactly five vending carts in Port Dechantagne, and all five were within fifty yards of the dock. In addition to Finkler’s, there was Mr. Kordeshack selling fish and chips, Mrs. Gopling selling smoky sausages, Mrs. Luebking, selling scarves, mittens, and knit caps for those who had either not brought warm clothing or were unable to find it in their luggage, and Mr. Darwin, who sold purses, wallets, belts, and hat bands, all made of dinosaur skin.

“Two teas,” said Saba, setting a ten-pfennig coin on the cart.

“Sugars?” asked Aalwijn.

“One.”

“Three,” said Eamon.

“Milk?” asked Aalwijn.

“No.”  With no cattle in the colony and few goats, the only milk available was in tins. While this was fine for cooking, most people had given up milk in their tea because of the metallic taste.

The snow started coming down more heavily as the two constables sipped the steaming tea from the small, plain porcelain cups.  When they had finished, they set the cups in the bin on the side of the vending cart reserved for dirty dishes.  Saba turned around and looked at the S.S. Queen of Expy.

“I don’t think it’s moved,” said Saba.

“What’s Expy?” asked Eamon.

“It’s an island.”

“Does it have a queen?”

“I don’t think so.”

“How come they named a ship Queen of Expy then?”

“That’s just something they do.”

“I don’t think it’s moved,” said Eamon.

“Come on,” said Saba.  “Let’s do a tour.”

“Together?”

“Sure.”

The two constables started off to the north, walking past the warehouses, and reaching the end of Bainbridge Clark Street, and the edge of Augustus P. Dechantagne Park.  The park occupied ten acres just past the narrowest part of the peninsula, and was mostly composed of a large grassy area where during the summer, people had picnics, and played football or cricket.  On its western edge was a copse of several dozen large trees and rose garden with a gazebo, a reflecting pool, and the base for a statue that had not yet been completed.  The base was four foot square and two feet high, and would eventually hold a life-sized statue of the man for whom the park was named.  It already had his name embossed upon it, along with the phrase “Stand Fast, Men”.  Trailing through the park and the rose garden within it was a winding cobblestone path, which Saba and Eamon took.  They stopped between the statue base and the reflecting pool, which was completely frozen over.

“You knew him pretty well, eh?” asked Eamon, indicating the spot where the statue would someday be.

“Yep.  He was a great guy.  He used to tell me dirty stories when I was a kid, and he usually gave me a couple of pfennigs when he saw me.  That was big money for me then.”

“Sure,” said Eamon, who had grown up in a poorer family than Saba’s.  “Do you know what it’s going to look like?”

“Nope.  Nobody but Mrs. Dechantagne-Calliere knows.  Knowing her, he’s going to be standing like he has a stick up his ass, and he’ll probably be pointing forward or waving heroically.”

“How do you wave heroically?”

“You know.  Like ‘Come on, Men!’”  Saba waved invisible soldiers behind him to move forward.

“Okay.”

“You know they should have named this park after Zurfina.  She’s the one who saved our cake.”

“I’ve heard you say that before.  It’s just because you fancy her.”

“No.  I’m serious. I was there.  I know.”

“She really put it on the lizzies?”

“Oh, it was bloody awesome.”

“But you do fancy her?”

“She’s too old for me,” said Saba.  “Not that I haven’t had the odd fantasy about her.”

“She’s not that old is she?  I’ve only seen her a few times, but she doesn’t look… forty do you suppose?”

The Drache Girl – Chapter 8 Excerpt

Stepping out of the S.S. Arrow’s mid-deck hatch and onto the gangplank, Radley Staff looked around at the peninsula on which Port Dechantagne was built. He was amazed at the growth of the little colony. When he had left, a little more than three years ago, it was nothing but a few barracks buildings in a clearing in the woods. Now it was a real town. From where he stood, he could see hundreds of buildings, warehouses, apartment blocks, businesses, and the rooftops of more building off between the redwoods. A large, dark cloud hung amid the white clouds, formed by hundreds of fireplaces and stoves. The smell of wood smoke overcame the smell of the seashore. He stopped for a moment and enjoyed the scene. Someone behind him cleared her throat. He turned around to find Miss Jindra, in a shimmering white and teal day dress with waves of white ruffles down the front. She wore a matching teal hat with a lace veil and carried a parasol, though she seemed unlikely to need one.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to hold you up.”

“That’s quite all right, Mr. Staff. I’m surprised you haven’t debarked yet.”

“I waited to avoid the rush.”

“I’m afraid I was expecting more,” she said, looking with a raised brow at the nearby buildings.

He followed her gaze.

“Really? I was thinking just the opposite.”

He turned back around to face her and started. Miss Jindra was just where she had been, but a second woman stood directly behind her—a woman who hadn’t been there only a second before. Though her hairstyle was different, Staff remembered the charcoal circled grey eyes and the wry smile. He had thought he remembered her scandalous dress too, but what she had on now went beyond the bounds of decency. Black leather covered only the lower half of her breasts, leaving her two star tattoos clearly visible. The dress reached down only to the top of her thighs. Two thick straps attached to a tight leather collar, which seemed to be holding the whole thing up. Forget fitting a corset beneath this ensemble. One would have been hard pressed to fit a piece of lace in there.

“Well, Lieutenant Staff, I do declare,” said Zurfina in her unforgettable sultry voice.

“That’s Mr. Staff,” he corrected.

Miss Jindra spun around, getting a piece of her voluminous dress caught on a spur of the railing. There was a loud ripping sound as a four-inch tear was opened in the beautiful teal cloth.

“Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear,” said Zurfina, placing a hand on each of Miss Jindra’s shoulders. Looking around the olive-skinned woman’s head, she said in a loud whisper. “Too long a dress. Bound to happen sooner or later.”

“What exactly do you want, Zurfina?” asked Staff. “I’m flattered, but surprised that you came to meet me.”

“Oh you are a pretty boy, but it’s your friend I’m here for.”

“Miss Jindra?”

Miss Jindra started to speak. “I don’t…”

“Don’t spoil the moment,” said Zurfina, placing a finger on the woman’s mouth.

“Perhaps I could bring her around to your home later,” said Staff.

Zurfina flashed him a smile that was only slightly more than a smirk. Then suddenly she was gone. Miss Jindra, her voluminous white and teal dress with matching teal hat and her parasol, were gone too. There was nothing to indicate that anyone had ever stood on the gangplank behind him, except for a single teal colored thread, clinging to a spur in the railing.

For a moment, Staff thought about finding Miss Jindra and rescuing her. On the other hand, she had never expressed a need or a desire for his protection. He didn’t really know her all that well. She was only a dinner companion, assigned by the ship’s purser at that. And it was not as if he had any knowledge of how to deal with a sorceress or knew Zurfina’s address. So he shrugged and continued down the gangplank, across the dock, and into the street beyond.

It was cold and snow clung to the ground, the roofs of buildings, and the branches of trees, but the street had been cleared by the heavy traffic. People were moving up and down the street. Some of them he recognized from the ship. Others must have been locals. People were buying food, hot drinks, and scarves and mittens, from vendor’s stalls. He was mildly surprised to see a green-skinned lizardman moving slowly along among the crowd of humans.

“Been a long time since you saw one of them, huh,” said a small voice.

Staff looked to the edge of the street and saw a blond girl seated on a crate. She wore a very fancy blue dress and a wide blue hat. She was much older than he remembered, though he did remember her well.

“Senta, isn’t it?”

The girl nodded.

The Drache Girl – Chapter 7 Excerpt

The S.S. Queen of Expy was the largest ship yet to dock at Port Dechantagne, almost twice as large, in terms of tonnage, as the H.M.S. Minotaur, the battleship that had brought the first colonists to this shore. Her four massive smokestacks were no longer pouring out giant black clouds as they had done all the way from Greater Brechalon. The great ship was now, ever so slowly, turning without the aid of any tugs, so that she could connect to a dock that was so much more primitive than she was used to. It all put Saba Colbshallow in mind of a very fat lady trying to maneuver herself around in a bathtub.

“How long do you suppose before they can get the gangplank up?” wondered Eamon Shrubb, who like Saba stood in his heavy blue reefer jacket and blue constable’s helmet.

Saba consulted his pocket watch. The ornate little hands showed 10:30. A snowflake settled upon its glass face, just above the six. He turned his face skyward and saw a few more large white flakes falling toward him.

“A while,” he said. “Tea?”

Eamon nodded, and the entire police force walked across the gravel road to the cart that Aalwijn Finkler had set up to sell hot drinks and cakes.

There were exactly five vending carts in Port Dechantagne, and all five were within fifty yards of the dock. In addition to Finkler’s, there was Mr. Kordeshack selling fish and chips, Mrs. Gopling selling smoky sausages, Mrs. Luebking, selling scarves, mittens, and knit caps for those who had either not brought warm clothing or were unable to find it in their luggage, and Mr. Darwin, who sold purses, wallets, belts, and hat bands, all made of dinosaur skin.

“Two teas,” said Saba, setting a ten-pfennig coin on the cart.

“Sugars?” asked Aalwijn.

“One.”

“Three,” said Eamon.

“Milk?” asked Aalwijn.

“No.” With no cattle in the colony and few goats, the only milk available was in tins. While this was fine for cooking, most people had given up milk in their tea because of the metallic taste.

The snow started coming down more heavily as the two constables sipped the steaming tea from the small, plain porcelain cups. When they had finished, they set the cups in the bin on the side of the vending cart reserved for dirty dishes. Saba turned around and looked at the S.S. Queen of Expy.

“I don’t think it’s moved,” said Saba.

“What’s Expy?” asked Eamon.

“It’s an island.”

“Does it have a queen?”

“I don’t think so.”

“How come they named a ship Queen of Expy then?”

“That’s just something they do.”

“I don’t think it’s moved,” said Eamon.

“Come on,” said Saba. “Let’s do a tour.”

“Together?”

“Sure.”

The two constables started off to the north, walking past the warehouses, and reaching the end of Bainbridge Clark Street, and the edge of Augustus P. Dechantagne Park. The park occupied ten acres just past the narrowest part of the peninsula, and was mostly composed of a large grassy area where during the summer, people had picnics, and played football or cricket. On its western edge was a copse of several dozen large trees and rose garden with a gazebo, a reflecting pool, and the base for a statue that had not yet been completed. The base was four foot square and two feet high, and would eventually hold a life-sized statue of the man for whom the park was named. It already had his name embossed upon it, along with the phrase “Stand Fast, Men”. Trailing through the park and the rose garden within it was a winding cobblestone path, which Saba and Eamon took. They stopped between the statue base and the reflecting pool, which was completely frozen over.

“You knew him pretty well, eh?” asked Eamon, indicating the spot where the statue would someday be.

“Yep. He was a great guy. He used to tell me dirty stories when I was a kid, and he usually gave me a couple of pfennigs when he saw me. That was big money for me then.”

“Sure,” said Eamon, who had grown up in a poorer family than Saba’s. “Do you know what it’s going to look like?”

The Drache Girl – Chapter 6 Excerpt

“I did everything I could,” said Terrence Dechantagne.  “I called for a doctor and a priest.  A doctor and a priest came.  It was just bad luck that he died anyway.”

“As he was trying to shoot me at the time,” Radley Staff paused to bring the whiskey glass to his lips.  “I consider it rather good luck.”

“Bad luck for him, I meant.”

Staff nodded.

“Sometimes bad things just happen,” said Mr. Merchant.

“Quite,” agreed Mr. Shannon.

The four men sat at a small table in the first class lounge, sipping their drinks and smoking cigars.  Outside, the railings had formed a thick decoration of long, pointy icicles, and the deck was rapidly becoming obscured by a white blanket of snow.  The grey day was well on its way to becoming night in spite of the fact that it was only four in the afternoon.

“Well, I do believe here comes your priest now, Dechantagne,” said Merchant.

All four men stood up as the severe looking woman approached in a black dress. Her graying hair was pulled tightly back into a long pony tail and her lips were so thin, it seemed as though the pony tail was pulling most of the skin of her face with it.  Her black dress was not a robe, not quite, and as was almost all feminine attire, it was endowed with a prominent bustle, but had no brocade or lace, just a priestly collar at her neck, and a thin strip of white running from each shoulder to the floor.  She had a large and ornate golden cross on a chain around her neck.

“Mother Linton,” said Dechantagne.  “May I introduce Misters Staff, Merchant, and Shannon?”

Mother Linton nodded to each.  “May I speak to you, Mr. Dechantagne?”

He shrugged and stepped away with the priest.

“So what do you say about this weather, Staff?” marveled Shannon. “Whenever I think of Mallon, I think of the jungle.  I never expected snow.”

“I suppose there is a great deal of Mallon that’s tropical,” replied Staff, “but Birmisia is cool, dry, lots of pine trees.  Even the summers are not too bad.  That’s good from a business perspective, too.  Nobody wants to muck around in swamps.  That’s probably why Enclep isn’t better developed.”

“Good man,” said Merchant.  “Always keeping business in mind.”

Dechantagne returned to the table and sat down.

“What was that all about?” asked Staff.

“It seems Mother Linton has been pegged by the Bishop of Brech as the High Priest of Birmisia.”

“And?”

“And priests are no different than anyone else.  They all want something.”  He waved to the waiter for another drink.

“And what does she want?”

“Oh, it’s all Mother Church this and Mother Church that.”  Dechantagne picked up the cigar that he had left smoldering in the ashtray when he had stepped outside with Mother Linton, and he stubbed it out.  Then he got up and walked out the door, intercepting the waiter for his drink along the way.

“So, you don’t think he’s a major player?” wondered Shannon.

“Oh, he may prove a friend to our business,” said Staff.  “But make no mistake, Mrs.… his sister is the one who’s in charge.”

“Excellent.  I’m glad to see you know your way around,” said Merchant.  “Have you had a chance to talk to Buttermore?”

“The office man?  I did. I didn’t have a chance to meet all of his staff, or the engineers.  Shame they couldn’t be in first class.”

“My boy, do you know how expensive that would be?” asked Shannon.  “There are ten of them, and ten more family members besides.”

“Don’t you own the ship?”

“Yes, but that would be twenty first class passages that wouldn’t be available for sale.  It’s not like we put them in steerage.  Second class is very nice.”  Shannon’s face was becoming pink.

“I know it is.  I myself am in second class.”

“Indeed.”

“We would have had you bumped up to a first class cabin if we had known,” said Merchant.

“I don’t have enough baggage to need a first class cabin.  I’m fine where I am.”

“Very sensible,” said Shannon, his face returning to its normal rather jaundiced hue.

“Well, Buttermore seems like a good man.  He knows exactly what we need to do.  I’ll handle the connections with the government and then we can get started. Of course, there’s plentiful unskilled labor.”

“Excellent,” said Merchant.  “If this all goes as well as I’m expecting it to, we’ll have to send over our short accountant to count all our money.

The dinner bell rang and Staff said goodbye to his two employers and went to his table.  The broken glass had been repaired and the dining room looked none the worse for wear. As usual, the darkly beautiful Amadea Jindra was already seated; her heavily laced white dress was a study in contrast with her dark olive skin.  As Staff sat down, he noticed the plunging back left both her shoulder blades sensuously exposed.

“Miss Jindra,” he said.

“Good Evening, Mr. Staff.”

The waiter brought a salad of leaf lettuce and thinly sliced fruit.  It was garnished with a peach cut into the shape of a rose.  A moment later, he returned with glasses of sparkling wine.

“You must come from a wealthy family, Miss Jindra,” he said.  “To be able to travel first class passage alone to Birmisia.”

Smashwords End of Year Sale

Right now, Smashwords is celebrating its End of Year Sale.  You can get great deals on thousand of ebooks, including mine.  Get ready for the upcoming finale of The Sorceress and the Dragon– For King and Country– by catching up on the earlier books.

Brechalon  Free Always

The Voyage of the Minotaur  Free with coupon code SW100

The Dark and Forbidding Land Free with coupon code SW100

The Drache Girl Free with coupon code SW100

The Young Sorceress Free with coupon code SW100

The Two Dragons Free with coupon code SW100

The Sorceress and her Lovers Half price with coupon code SEY50

The Price of Magic Half price with coupon code SEY50

A Plague of Wizards Half price with coupon code SEY50

The Dragon’s Choice  Half price with coupon code SEY50