Today I laid down the final few words of the first draft of my current novel project, the sky pirate adventure The Clockwork Princess. To celebrate the coming months of crunching, editing and proof-reading, here’s an excerpt from the story’s beginning as a kind of teaser.
It began with a rumour.
Cultivated amidst the tumultuous commerce of the Docklands, the rumour travelled up the Great Chains all the way to High Kensington, where lips tightened in disapproval above perfumed jowls and china teacups.
It travelled downwards, past the chaos of the Circus and the civilised boroughs to the distinctly uncivilised Lowborough, where knuckles all too used to being cracked were cracked anew in anticipation of debts painfully repaid.
The rumour went like this: Skycaptain Edward Valens was returning to London.
It swept through the halls of Parliament, where finely-flossed teeth were gritted and terse orders were issued over the endless chatter of quills on legal parchment. It reached the vaulted towers of the Gearmasters’ Academy, where Acolytes caught whispering it were beaten mercilessly.
Orders were passed down. Officers were dispatched. In the Docklands, the Constabulary and the Docksec corps actually put aside their long standing animosity to assemble a united force. A skyship was seized, a vessel that appeared to be nothing more than a simple fur-trader. Sergeant Pugnas Flint couldn’t hold back a grin as his men boarded the ship to apprehend the infamous Skycaptain.
When it transpired that the seized ship was in fact nothing more than a simple fur-trader, Sergeant Pugnas Flint stopped grinning.
Below the docks, in the not-so-reputable borough of Hagger’s Stone, the door to the bar Wayward Maiden opened and a tall man entered, wearing a long red coat and a wide-brimmed hat. The bar’s patron, a one-eyed man known as Ebert Eagle-Eye, looked up as the newcomer entered, gave a slow smile, and returned to polishing a glass.
The newcomer walked over to a table where four men were engaged in a game of Shank-me-Neighbour. He sat down, emptied a small purse of coins onto the table, and was wordlessly dealt a hand. Of the four, only the man known as Able Sidney recognised the newcomer, and Sidney quickly took his winnings and left with mumbled apologies, because the man who had just joined the game was Skycaptain Edward Valens, the Nobleman Pirate, Scourge of Civilised Skies, the most wanted man in all of London.
I hope that goes some way to whetting the appetite for some sky pirate-based fiction. It’s worth noting that all those words up there may well have changed by the time I deem this novel ‘finished’, so…enjoy them while they last, I guess!