Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 2

Chapter 1


Chapter 2: A Princess and a Tinker

“That was a wonderful speech dear,” King Nathan said, his voice sounding thin and creaky. He sat in his wheelchair that looked like a throne and was covered in an afghan that Diana knew her mother had made.

“Thank you great-grandfather. You know I could make you an automated chair.” She put her hand on his arm as she bent down.

“Oh, no no. That would be a waste of your time and talents. Plus what would I do without Martin’s sparkling conversation.” The large man who acted as body guard, nurse, and confidant of the king smiled and grunted softly. “See dear, it’s nearly impossible to get him to shut up.” King Nathan gave a soft laugh and then started to cough.

The coughing fit lasted longer than Diana would have liked, but at least there was no blood this time. She’d spent a lot of time worrying about him and trying to find a cure for what ailed him, but in the end it was just old age. At a hundred and four years of age, he’d outlived three wives, all four of his children, and all three grandchildren. He had ten great-grandchildren all between the age of twenty-six and ten. Diana was the eldest and in all but name she ruled the island kingdom.

When the coughing ended, the old man took a deep breath and said, “You don’t have anything on your calendar for the rest of the day. Don’t waste your free time with this old man. Go have fun.” He winked at her. He was the only one who knew.

The castle was built with both servants corridors and secret passages. Diana had grown up in these halls with her cousins and her twin brother. He’d left when he was fifteen, angry that he’d never be king unless she died. Angry at being born a few minutes too late. And mostly just angry. She hadn’t seen or heard from him since he’d left. She hoped he was okay wherever he was.

Navigating the corridors and passages was easy and she quickly made it to her bedroom. Once there, she cleaned off all the makeup she wore to public events, changed into simple overalls, and tied her curly reddish brown hair into a tight bun. Finally she added a pair of dark rimmed glasses to hide her family’s distinctive green eyes. No good disguise is complete without glasses, she thought.

Once changed, she headed out of the castle through a series of complex tunnels. The servants she passed only smiled and bowed.

Once she’d used her rooms as a workshop, but it was hard to explain why the princesses rooms always smelled of grease and smoke. The seamstresses were particularly cross about the stains in her clothing. Her great-grandfather had given her money and told her to find a small space in town. Her parents were suspicious at the time, but her brother’s running away kept them busy until they died in an airship crash while searching for him.

Her head was in the clouds and she wasn’t paying attention to what was going on around her and she ran into a boy. He had the most beautiful golden skin and full lips. The boy glared at her and put his hand on his sword. He had on novice robes from the Fighting Monks.

“What the hell are you thinking?” he asked. His voice cracking part way.

“Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going. I really didn’t mean offence and if you challenge me to a duel you’ll be extremely bored and I’ll be extremely dead, so how about you don’t…”

“You’re a tinker aren’t you?”

“Yes I am. Master Tinker Dee. Pleasure to meet you…” she trailed and stuck out her hand to shake.

The man shook her hand and she couldn’t help but admire his strong lean muscled arms. It was definitely too bad that the Monks took vows of celibacy.

“I’m Novice Arty but that won’t last long. I’ll be a master by the end of the year.”

“That’s a lot of confidence there, Arty. Where are you going in such a hurry?” She smiled at him.

“I’m trying to find the Apollo Shipping Company, but this damned island is worse than a labyrinth.”

Giggling a little, she said, “It’s a little hard when you first start, but it becomes second nature eventually. I’m heading there now. I could walk you there if you like?”

The man blushed and it made Diana happy that she seemed to have the same effect on him that he did on her.

The Apollo Shipping Company owned the biggest, best, and more importantly, fastest airships in the world. They delivered packages and mail to everyone who could pay. They were headquartered in Cillian and she rented a workshop from them. The engineers and airship pilots came to her when they were having technical issues. She’d re-designed most of the technology to use solar powered boilers instead of the old coal engines and the patents would have made her rich is she hadn’t already been.

Sitting behind the desk was Ezekiel. He was her best friend and one of the prettiest men she’d ever met. He was the heir to the Apollo fortune but preferred working in the warehouse and dealing with people. He’d lost his left leg when he was young.

“Hey Ezekiel. What’s new?”

Seeing her he smiled widely and furrowed his brow. “I have a bone to pick with you. The new leg worked great until the pistons started going off and I was hoping around like a deranged toad.”

Diana couldn’t help laughing and it turned into a snort. “I have a look at it. You know what I say…” He joined her in repeating her favourite saying, “Perfection through persistence.”

“It’s in your workshop. Let me know if you need anything.”

“Thanks. I should be good. I want to work on that glider-cycle again. I think If I tweek the air-magic I can get more reliable balance.” Remembering Arty, she added, “Arty here was looking for you. Take care of him, he’ll be a master soon.” She winked at Arty and headed to her workshop.

Thinking about them both as she worked she sighed… so much pretty in the same room.


If you’re enjoying this year’s serial story why not check out those from past years?

Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Staying Inconspicuous

“And whatever you do, don’t brawl everyone on your way to the Temple.” The last words that Hero Haus had told her echoed through her head as she walked of the ship onto the docks of Cillian.

The place was bustling with activity and Artemis tried her best not to be in the way. She’d been trained from birth to fight, dance, and be nimble on her feet; none of which had helped in the busy streets of Cillian.

“I have to make my way to the Temple and avoid fighting. How hard could that be?” she asked herself as she bumped into a large man who was drunk. He bumped back and she felt his hand on her butt. “Excuse me sir, but if you’re looking for my money pouch, you won’t find it back there.”

“Who said I wanted your money pouch?” The hand that had been on her butt was now holding a dagger at her side and the other hand was around her wrist over the only piece of jewelry she owned. The bracelet was a sturdy gold chain given to her by her father before his death.

Pushing the man’s dagger arm away while simultaneously kicking him in his private area was the easy part. Drawing her sword in a crowded street, now that was a challenge.

The man groaned and looked at her with an evil smile, lifting the bracelet and taunting her. He then turned and ran away. “Coward!” she yelled and started to chase him.

He was a thief accustomed to the city, she was a country child who was determined to follow him. The chase didn’t last long. The loss of the bracelet left her in a sour mood and the chase left her completely lost. This was the biggest city she’d ever seen and spanned nearly the entire Island it was on.

It was beautiful in its architecture, but the people were too close together and everything smelled of shit, mostly horse and cow.

“Excuse me,” she asked the closest person. They were too much in a hurry and ignored her.

A food cart passed by and it looked like the large man in the chef’s outfit was pushing it until she saw the cogs and steam engine attached to it, whatever was in that cart smelled heavenly. Some sort of cooked and spiced meat, thought Artemis.

With nothing better to do and no way of finding the Temple without help, she decided she might as well follow her stomach. The cart moved steadily on and people moved out of its way. Slowly the narrow streets gave way to wider roads with trees and benches.

As they turned a corner, Artemis was amazed to see the castle. It was bigger than anything she’d ever seen. It supposedly had its own hanger and landing strip for airships.

There was a crowd of people standing around a stage. The cart stopped and opened for business. She bought two meat pies and went to see what was going on at the stage.

It wasn’t long before a woman stepped onto the stage and started speaking. Artemis choked on a piece of her meat pie. The woman wore an elegant dress that wouldn’t be out of place in a fairy tale illustration. The dress was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen and the woman managed to be infinitely more beautiful. The dark blue dress contrasted perfectly with the woman’s dark brown skin.

“Wow,” Artemis said, not realizing she said it aloud.

“I know right? Princess Diana is amazing.” said a man next to her. She hadn’t noticed, but the crowd had formed around her. The man who spoke had a strong jawline and ice blue eyes that sparkled. His soft golden skin made her just want to touch it.

“Um… yes. She’s very pretty.” It sounded as awkward as possible and Artemis’s face felt warm. She was in love with both of them. Was that possible?

He hadn’t looked at her yet and when he did, he stammered, “You’re very pretty too. I didn’t me to imply…”

“So are you…” she replied and they both turned away from each other for a moment.

“I’m Ezekiel.” The sandy haired man said.

“I’m…” Artemis froze. “Going to the Temple of the Fighting Monk order of Dumas.”

“Okay. It’s just over there.” He pointed at a tall tower surrounded by small buildings. The entire thing looked ramshackle and not what she expected of a Temple.

“Thank you,” she said and ran away. She’d met attractive people before and even had some that were attracted to her. Not surprising; she was tall, muscled, and had what her father had described as, “a symmetrical elven sort of face.”

But there was something about this man that took her breath away faster than a punch to her stomach. She turned her head as she ran to get another glance at him and saw him limp away from the stage. The mechanism in his left leg, a prosthesis, seemed to have jammed.

Running in a busy city and not paying attention is a quick way to bump into someone and that’s exactly what she did. She collided with a man so hard that they both fell to the ground.

Getting up she held her hand out to the man and he scowled, “Stupid country bumpkin. I’ll teach you what happens when you collide with a Fighting Monk.” The man drew his sword, which crackled with electricity.

“I meant no offence sir, but if it’s a fight you want, I’ll abide.” Smiling Artemis pulled out her own sword.

“Why are you smiling? Are you so daft as think you can win this fight?” The man said as he beat at her sword, testing her defences.

“I’ve had a day where I’ve been off balance for everything. Fighting is something I understand.”

The man smiled in return and they fought. He was absolutely amazing. She hadn’t lost a fight in years, but she knew she was completely out-classed. After a hard couple of minutes, she fell to one knee and placed her sword on the ground, “I yield.”

To her surprise the man laughed and said, “You gave me the best workout I’ve had in months. Thank you and all offences are forgiven.”

She stood and shook his hand. “I was headed to the Temple to train with the monks.”

“You are the most promising fighter I’ve seen. It’s a pity we don’t accept women into the order.”


If you’re enjoying this year’s serial story why not check out those from past years?

Éric’s 2018 Resolutions

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Last Thursday I graded my 2017 resolutions. I accomplished a lot but only 55% of what I was hoping.

I make these resolutions to push myself and to do more. Even if I only accomplish half, that’s more than I would have without them. Let’s hope this year is fruitful.

Write 2000 words a week for The Mystery of the Dancing Lights

This is arguably more ambitious than last year’s 3000 words, since that included blog posts and short stories, but I really need to kick myself into writing more of my novels. I’m getting stressed at the idea that I’ve only written one publishable novel in the past four years.

Pitch Everdome and the Super-Secret Project

I need to decide if I’ll pitch Everdome to the big publishers, if I pitch it to others, or if I self-publish. It’ll, in part, be decided by how my pitch for the Super-Secret Project goes. Something I need to write up and submit. (I’ll hopefully have news by the end of the year.)

Write a Monthly Serial Story

I like writing these, they don’t stress me and they’re a lot of fun. It forces me to think on my feet and learn not to plan too hard and let the story go where my weird brain sends it.

If you haven’t already voted for the 2018 Serial story, go do that now.

Continue to ensure there’s content 5 days a week on JenEric Designs

We’ve been going for five years now with content every weekday on JenEric Designs and I’m very proud of that. Jen and I have worked hard not to miss a day. I’ll do my best to ensure we keep that streak going.

Read 30 books

I succeed at this last year and I hopefully I’ll do the same this year. I love reading and it’s important to me that I keep doing it.

Finish the new content for FADDS and playtest it

This has been on my list for a long time and if FADDS were a human child, it would be going into second grade at this point.

I need to finish the new content and do an overhaul to take out the races. I’ve come to find that a race system in RPGs is, well, kind of racist. Instead I’ll be switching it to bonuses based off of Nurture and Nature.

Test, Design, and Produce 2 new coffee flavours

This will be easy. I have two flavours chosen. They need some more testing with people and I need to design their theme. We’ll have at least one for Comic Con.

Edit and send Dinosaur Road Trip to a willing betareader

This will be tough. It’s not a great book, but it was extremely personal and I really need to get it into a physical form for my daughter. I’m sure I’ll add some stuff along the way.

Jen, Weditor, has gone through it and made comments. She doesn’t seem sure it’s publishable so I’d like another opinion and a betaread. Depending how that goes I’ll either pitch it or just print a copy for myself and baby Dragon.

Start getting a short story collection together

This is going to be the fifth year of the Serial Story and I’m really proud of the worlds that have come out of it.

What I’d like to do is write an extra chapter for each story and put them all together, this year included. That would give me roughly 65,000 words and I’d pitch it to my publisher. I’d want to write 2 or 3 stories featuring characters from my books to try and tempt people to buy it and round it out to 70,000 ish words.

Play more Videogames

I have been doing a lot. Between my full time job, my part time job, coffee roasting, writing, housework, freelance layout, and other things; I spend a lot of time creating or doing things.

I need to force myself to sit down and play some of the games I’ve been wanting to play. Even if it’s only a few hours a week. It’ll help me relax.

Keladry is getting old enough now that soon she’ll be able to boss me around or at the very least stop attacking the controller.

 

Once again it’s an ambitious list. Hopefully I can get at least 50% done. Wish me luck.

What are your Resolutions this year?

Éric

 

2018 Serial Story – You Vote, I Write

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

For the past four years I’ve written a monthly short story. The idea is to challenge myself and give you an interesting story every month. I don’t plan it in advance and I don’t edit past chapters unless I screw up a name or important fact.

Last year I had you all vote and it worked out pretty well. (Check out 2017’s Serial Story Database of the Ageless Kings) So let’s do this again.

Voting will end January 8th at 11:59pm.

What should be the genre of the 2018 Serial Story?

  • Fantasy (29%, 5 Votes)
  • Romance (29%, 5 Votes)
  • Mystery (18%, 3 Votes)
  • Supernatural (12%, 2 Votes)
  • Science-Fiction (6%, 1 Votes)
  • Detective (6%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 14

Loading ... Loading ...

What should be the mood?

  • Comedy of Errors (47%, 7 Votes)
  • Dark/Noir (27%, 4 Votes)
  • Absurd (13%, 2 Votes)
  • Action/Adventure (13%, 2 Votes)
  • Mysterious (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 14

Loading ... Loading ...

What should be the setting?

  • Steam-Punk (38%, 6 Votes)
  • Alternate Universe (25%, 4 Votes)
  • Everdome (19%, 3 Votes)
  • Classic Fantasy (13%, 2 Votes)
  • Our Earth (6%, 1 Votes)
  • Science Fiction (Our Future) (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Science Fiction (Other World) (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 14

Loading ... Loading ...

What should the main character(s) be?

  • Special Human (Super Hero, Chosen One, Magic user, etc) (38%, 6 Votes)
  • Normal Human (19%, 3 Votes)
  • Personification of a Concept (Death, Liberty, etc) (19%, 3 Votes)
  • Anthropomorphized Animal (Human looking fox) (19%, 3 Votes)
  • Non-Human (Alien, Elf, Dwarf, etc) (6%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 14

Loading ... Loading ...

Thank you!
Éric