First, let me thank you all again for all of the well-wishes last week! I deeply appreciated them and I know they contributed to getting better. I'm at about 87.6% of rarin'-to-go capacity which is a lovely place to be so soon. Today I'm going to share a bit of writing with you from a steampunk project that literally drove me to drink at least twice, (brandy toddies are magic), but one I've gained an odd affection towards. I think it mirrors my current feelings right now. As an insomniac, I'm tired most of the time, it's not fun, but you get used to it. When I'm sick, it goes from tired into pure exhaustion, along with all the aches and pains and crud associated with whatever's wrong. By the time it's done, just going back to being tired is such a treat that it feels like rest. There's an actual affection for that state in comparison to where I've come from.
On another level, I struggled with the last 10K of the steampunk story like the trials of Job, and it's not something I ever want to feel again about a story. I am, however, feeling a certain nostalgia for only have 10K to do until I'm done. I have much more ahead of me on my current WIP and my deadline of February 5th looms large. I think it's a wonderful reminder moment that, wherever we are, it's never that bad in comparison to where we could be, were circumstances different. (See how it started out funny but then got all deep at the end, yep, sneaky philosophy is the best).
So here you are, Kittens, 13 Paragraphs from The Clockwork Courtesan. I didn't number this time around because it's unedited and anything that helps the flow is a plus. *grin* This is first and second-to-last attempt at anything steampunk, gaslight, weird west, fantasy-alternate-history, whathaveyou. Second-to-last, because one should never say never, and never say never again! *wink*
I'll see you tomorrow for Crush of the Week and make sure to check out Saturday Sit-down with author Rhonda L. Print answering question on writing and giving a blurb and excerpt of her novel Nightwalker.
“You know that six-shooter’s cursed?”
Holly Belle knew no such thing, but she nodded just the same. The pawn broker pursed his lips, but finally nodded and handed her the weapon. With a silken smile and iron effort, she refrained from stripping off her gloves in a most unlady-like fashion to caress the gun. Instead she turned it this way and that in her lace covered hands, giving it an almost dismissive nod of acceptance. Nothing could be dismissed about the Colt’s perfection, but her true desire to rub it against her cheek and call it pretty names didn’t stand a chance of going without scrutiny from the shop owner and above all, Holly could not afford excess attention.
“I’m confident it’s the correct one. I’ll take it.” She said.
The shop owner sucked his teeth and nodded. “Do you see that engraving there? Ain’t ever had another one like it. Do you know what it means?”
“The markings are thought to be arcane in nature, binding the spirit of anyone wrongfully killed by the Colt to haunt all who touch it thereafter. There are only six like it and this particular one has both a twin and a mirror-twin in black steel. It’s as dark as this one is light, even the engravings are flipped. It’s called the Master Colt, the one from which all others were struck. It’s been long lost, but some say when the twin guns are carried together, it works much like the Master Colt and the wearer is immune to the curse, others say immune to death itself.” She turned the gun. “These engravings are credited to Augustus White. This is incorrect. However, when the first factory produced carvings appear on the second generation Colt a century from now, the A. A. White Engraving Company founded by White’s grandson will be highly sought after due to the error.” She gave him her best smile.
The shopkeeper blinked and rocked back on his heels. “So you’re one of them oracles from back east, born with the Sight and such?”
Close enough. “However one defines it, I am an ORACLE, yes. How much do you wish for the Colt?”
He looked at the shop door and down to the gun in its velvet lined wooden box. “Is it really for true cursed? And does the curse, you know, transfer once it’s sold like they say?”
Holly Belle took a moment to examine her morality parameters. “The Colt is only haunted by a single entity so there is not a horde of vengeful ghost attached to it; merely one individual who will ultimately show up wherever the Colt happens to be. In this case such a thing is desired as I plan to break the curse in question once I reach my destination and have all the necessary tools at the ready.” She paused to look at him. “As for the transferal of the curse, well, no curse can be sold. You must freely give an item and it must be freely accepted for a curse to transfer between individuals.” She beamed a smile his way. “But you don’t have to worry, sir. You only bought the gun and held it to be sold. Such a curse could only transfer if you’d actually fired it, so you’ll be fine.”
The shopkeeper rubbed his chin. “Yeah, well, good to know.”
The door to the shop opened and the coachman entered. “Five minutes until we leave Mistress Belle.”
He gave a short nod and then shook his head. “No charge. If you’re willing to take it out of town I reckon I could see my way to viewing that at as a favor. I mean, I can’t have some cursed six-shooter just laying around, now can I? What if some fool buys it and goes shooting up the town cuz the curse dun got him?” The shop keeper closed the box and picked it up. “Here, you take it. I give it to you freely and everything. That uh, would do it right? It’s yours now?’
Holly Belle smiled and nodded. “That would indeed do it.” She gathered her parasol and delicately lifted the box, dropping a quarter-curtsey to the shopkeeper. “Thank you, sir. It was a pleasure doing business with you.”
The coachman held the door open and gave a nod to the shopkeeper as they exited. “Funny how you never seem need to reach into your coin purse to add to your collection there.” He said as he pulled down the steps for the coach.
“Curses tend to lessen ones financial burden,
Bryson Devereux leaned forward from the coach’s interior and offered his hand. “You speak true, Holly. But there is a difference between cheap and free.”
“Curses must be freely given and freely received.” She informed.
Her traveling companion gave her a grin. “Must they now?” He took the box from her as she stepped inside. “Well I have learned something new today.” Bryson took the Colt from the box and gave an approving nod. “Let us be off before the shopkeeper decides to rethink his education on the subject.”
Holly settled in, adjusting her petticoats. “He won’t. He spent yesterday shooting at bottles behind his home and then fell and sprained his ankle. I have done him a generous favor in relieving him of the burden before worse happens.”
With a dismissive wave at the coachman, Bryson leaned forward. “So that is why you moved our travel plans up. I must say, I underestimated your deviousness, love.”
“It fell well within my morality parameters.” She informed him. Holly lifted her dress and the many layers beneath until she bared a smooth shapely thigh. Tracing the rune above her garter belt, she focused on the combination, mentally turning the dials and watching the sequence fall into place. A segment of supple flesh took a metallic sheen and slid out. She plucked the Colt from its internal holster and examined it. “Now that we have them both we can free him, such is worth more than a little timely shopping and travel.”