Hi, guys, today is special. Well, special for me, anyway. :D I'm releasing the first part of ch.1 of my nano book. It's EXTREMELY rough as I just wrote it yesterday and it's in 3rd person, which I'm not the best at yet, but I like to challenge myself.
ARITIFACT SPIRIT is a steampunk story about a clockwork doll who has come alive after 100 years of being loved and cared for by the Adair family--the royal family in my fictional European Victorian Age kingdom. It is based on the Japanese myth of the Tsukumogami and Cinderella--with a few changes of my own.
Without further adieu, Scene 1 of Chapter 1 of ARTIFACT SPIRIT.
Delaney wanted to cover his ears with his hands and shout, "Will you three please stop your incessant, senseless chattering!" but he knew the resultant outcome would not be beneficial. Then their incessant ramblings would only turn to shouts, which would bring his father.
Since he didn't feel like explaining why he shouted at the trio of women, something a gentleman did not do under any circumstance, it was far easier to just endure.
And endure he was.
Ever since his father had come home with Lady Mallory Novelle and her two pampered wretches--daughters--he'd quietly done as was bid of him. Including relocating to the other side of his home. As far away from the twin terrors as possible without vacating the residence.
However, it hadn't been for his father's new wife as much as it had been for his own sanity. He could tell, even then, that his life was about to change completely. He just didn't realize how much.
Now, just a few weeks later, he strode through the home that had belonged in his mother's family for centuries, giving his new sisters and mother an official tour. His father had insisted he do everything to make the three feel welcome and apparently that included being open to their beck and call.
When they reached the ballroom on the first floor, Del paused by the carved mahogany doors. A lance of pain and grief stabbed into him. This had been his mother's domain. Her most prized area. Not just because of the lavish parties she would host, but because of the menagerie of dolls that adorned the stage.
It felt wrong to be bringing the woman that had replaced her to it, but he had no choice but to continue. Lady Novelle was already pushing open the door. A sure sign that she was not the lady her name suggested she was. A really lady would not open a door with a man present. A look of disgust appeared on her face when a cloud of dust erupted from the space.
She inhaled and then started a fit of coughing. Del couldn't help but be pleased her lack of manners had come back to bite her, though he offered his handkerchief. She yanked it from his hand and brought it up to her nose, before gesturing for Del to light the lamps.
Once he did she continued over the once glossy wood floors that were now covered in inches of dust.
"What is this? It's disgusting," Cassandra the blond of the two twins, said. Her nasily voice echoed through out the large room as did the click of their booted feet as the trio walked further in.
Del stiffened, fighting back the urge to tell her the shut her mouth. That real ladies were seen but not heard, but it would be lost on them. "It is the ballroom. It was my Mother's favorite place." He frowned, not exactly sure why he felt the need to them the last part.
Lady Novelle ran a white gloved hand along the dark wainscoting on the silk-papered walls. She wrinkled her nose at the layer of grime now coating the tip of her finger.
"It looks quite neglected," she said, with a superior look on her face that had Del been any less of a gentleman he would have had the urge to knock it right of her face.
"Yes," he said, keeping his face blank, but his fingers clenched into his trousers. "She didn't like anyone but herself to wind the dolls. When she took ill, she tried her best to keep doing it, but...it quickly became too much for her."
"What an idiot," said Narcissa, the dark haired twin. Her voice was just as nasally as her sisters, but it also had a high-pitched whine to it at all times. Del had to fight a wince when she spoke, it was like listening to nails on a slate board. "Why didn't she just use the servants? That's their job."
Del's hands tightened as did his jaw. A little tick fluttered in his cheek. "The dolls are old and precious to her. She trusted no one with them."
The girl rolled her eyes, then they widened. "Did you say dolls? What kinds of dolls?"
He regretted instantly that he'd told them about them, but there was nothing to be done. He gestured toward the raised stage on the far end of the room. "Be my guest," he said.
The two girls raced across the room, clamoring to get to the dolls first. They tripped and fought with each other each pushing the other straight off the stairway, before finally making it to the top.
Lady Novelle and Del followed more sedately. The former giving them looks of indulgence and the latter scowling at their completely unladylike behavior. Had he any sisters, his mother would not have tolerated that sort of behavior.
These...girls were to be the newest to the Adair line? Didn't exactly give one confidence in the future.
Del walked to the side of the stage and turned the knobs for the stage lamps. Gaslight glowed from the many lamps aimed at the stage, revealing the dozen or so clockwork dolls.
Beautiful, life-sized clockwork dolls made for the express purpose of entertaining guests as they danced across the stage.
"Those aren't dolls," Narcissa said. "They're too big. And...they're ugly. Why are their faces all white. And what are they wearing? Pajamas." She scrunched up her face and lifted her nose in the air.
"They are clockwork dolls. They dance," Del said, calmly despite the storm raging in him. He touched the oldest, and most favored of his mother's dolls, letting his hand rest on the cool somehow very flesh-like skin of the dolls wrist.
"This was her favorite," he told them, staring into the doll's brown eyes. It's a hundred years old. A gift from my great-grandfather to his wife for their wedding anniversary.
He brought it back from his travels to the East. It is dressed as a Japanese Geisha in her traditional garb." He turned his attention to Cassandra. "They are not pajamas."
"They dance?" asked Cassandra. "How?"
Del reached behind the doll to the large key in the middle of her back. He gave it a few quick turns and stepped back.
With clinks and a few grinding gears, the doll straightened, seemingly staring at Del for a few seconds before moving toward the girls, who squealed and ran to clutch at their mother's skirt.
"What is it doing?" Lady Novelle asked.
Del smiled, watching the dolls intricate movements. "It's performing a kabuki dance. A traditional Japanese dance." He remembered watching her perform the dances over and over again. Enthralled that something made of porcelain and metal, was so beautiful and lithe. She appeared now as she did then, as real as he. He could almost feel like she was watching him as he watched her. Not for the first time, he felt the urge to dance with her, but now was not the time.
"It's awful," Cassandra said. "I don't like it. Make it stop."
Before Delaney could say or do anything the doll stopped in her original position. The clicking of her clockwork innards still echoed throughout the room, but she didn't budge. Not one gear.
"It's broken," Narcissa said. "Good. She's horrible looking." She turned to sneer at Del. "Your mother had dreadful taste."
Del narrowed his eyes. "It appears she wasn't the only one. My father seems to have it as well." Then he spun on his heal and marched from the room, his back ramrod stiff.