Read Revenge of the Mad Scientist (Book One: Airship Adventure Chronicles) Online

Authors: Lara Nance

Tags: #A romantic steampunk adventure

Revenge of the Mad Scientist (Book One: Airship Adventure Chronicles)

Table of Contents

Title Page

Revenge of The Mad Scientist

Dedication

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Revenge of The Mad Scientist

Book One

Airship Adventure Chronicles

by

Lara Nance

A steampunk adventure with a touch of romance.

Revenge of The Mad Scientist

Lara Nance

© Copyright Lara Nance 2012. All rights reserved.

Cover art: Lara Nance

Editor: Rachel Abraham

ISBN - 13: 978-1479115792

ISBN - 10: 1479115797

E-books/Books are not transferable. They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.

All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. An resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.

Dedication

To the fabulously talented and creative steampunk community, whose art, prose, music and costumes constantly inspire me. Let's keep it goin' ya'll!!!

Chapter 1

The events of the next twenty-four hours would determine the fate of the world. Lady Arabella Trunkett gazed at the couples twirling across the white marble floor of the ballroom. Did any of them fully appreciate the gravity of the situation? She swirled her champagne and then turned the glass up to drain it. A sense of dread shivered over her skin and she scanned the ballroom for a waiter. One more glass might settle her nerves.

The high and mighty of Urbannia assembled in the mirror-walled expanse of Highview House to honor the presence of the Ambassador from Gandiss. They waltzed by, gliding onpistol would be the polished floor, men in their finest evening tails and women in velvet and silk gowns. Jewels and shiny fabrics glittering in the glow of gaslight chandeliers. She had to admit it was a beautiful sight, and the ebullient atmosphere nudged her attitude an inch toward hopeful.

“Not interested in dancing tonight, Belle?”

She jumped at the voice behind her. “Father,” she exclaimed, but then smiled as Sir John Trunkett leaned forward to kiss her cheek. “You startled me.”

“Come with me. I’d like to introduce you to the Ambassador. He’ll want to meet the prettiest and smartest woman in the room.” He held out his elbow and she slipped her hand through the crook.

“Don’t forget tallest,” she joked--her six foot frame a constant thorn in her side.

“He’s an intelligent man. He won’t care about such nonsense.”

“Will you really sign the treaty tomorrow?” Belle asked as they strolled around the side of the room, avoiding the dancers.

“Barring some unforeseen difficulty, yes. The queen is eager to wrap this up given the instability of the current political climate.” He took a deep breath. “Five long years I’ve worked on bringing Gandiss to the table. I can’t believe it’s finally going to happen. At last we have some hope of a lasting peace between the east and the west.”

“I’m so proud of you father.” She squeezed his arm. “This is a momentous occasion.”

Sir John smiled and covered her hand with his. She followed his gaze as it traveled to where the Ambassador from Gandiss, His Excellency High Lord Ismatan, talked with a short man in evening tails.

“Yes, everything seems to be going well at this point,” Sir John said. “We discussed trade relations today and I must admit, the end result is very favorable. I only wish I had hopes the other eastern countries might be willing to begin talks. But the situation there seems more unstable than ever. Every approach I try with them is a complete failure.”

Belle sensed her father’s frustration. The Empire of Urbannia constantly sought to captain an unwieldy boat of peace and modernization on a turbulent sea of dictators, poverty and ignorance. Of course Sir John as Lord High Minister felt the brunt of this responsibility. The burden hung heavily upon him.

She glanced up at him, admiring his firm jaw and the aristocratic line of his thin nose and high cheekbones. Only a sprinkle of gray touched his black hair at the temples--a handsome, intelligent man. Yes, she was enormously proud of him.

“Tonight we shall forget the rest of the world and focus on celebrating this accomplishment.” She smiled and held up her empty glass. A little more of the bubbly and that nagging feeling in the pit of her stomach might go away. “Now, how about another glass of champagne?”

He returned her smile. “Very well, but first I’d like to introduce you to His Excellency. Maybe that will interest you more than dancing.”

“You know me so well.” She chuckled as she grabbed a full glass from the tray of a passing waiter.

They approached the ambassador where he talked with Lord Percy Bottlemere, the Lord High Treasurer of Urbannia. Lord Ismatan towered over the other man. She would certainly not be looking down on
him
, thank goodness. His nose curved like a hawk’s beak between dark brown eyes alight with intelligence, and he wore long black velvet robes, with a white silk scarf tied about his neck and a small white cap on his head. Such exotic attire and the reputation of secrecy loving Gandiss lent him an air of mystery.

“Lord Ismatan, I’d like to present my daughter Lady Arabella Olivia Trunkett,” Sir John said, holding out a hand toward her.

She sank into a deep curtsy. A thrill of excitement swept through her replacing the lingering dread. The night suddenly became interesting.

The ambassador’s sharp eyes studied her and when she rose he held out a hand. “It is a great pleasure to meet you, Lady Arabella. I must say I have some knowledge of you from your business.”

Belle glanced at her father and saw his lips twitch, no doubt remembering how traditional Urbannia had frowned on her as a young woman starting her own business. Yet, he had supported her, loaning her startup money that she was able to pay back after only a year. His unconditional support was one of the many reasons she loved him so much.

“I thank you, Your Excellency, and I must say I’m flattered you have noticed my small endeavor.”

“My dear Lady, you can hardly call your business a small endeavor. I’d say you have the largest thread company in the world. Your idea for steam powered spinning wheels was sheer genius and just the sort of advancement I’d like to see in my own country.”

“Why, Lord Ismatan, you have quite turned my head.” She flipped open her lace fan and gave a few flicks in front of her face. If she played her cards right, she might be able to open a new thread factory in the uncharted business frontier of Gandiss.

The ambassador held out his arm and she placed her hand on it, giving him a gracious smile. Her father’s eyebrows shot up and she almost laughed, knowing he worried she would say something outrageous and offend the ambassador. She gave him a wink and strolled off around the side of the dance floor with Lord Ismatan. Two burly bodyguards in long, burgundy robes started after them but the High Lord waved them away.

“I’m impressed with all the advances your country has made with the power of steam. My own land is still mired in the traditions of the past. Such innovations could move us into a new era of prosperity and provide increased opportunities for commerce.” He leaned close to her. “I’m sure it’s no secret that my country is in desperate need of a stabilized economy.”

She gazed at his face, finding a genuine smile there. Impressed, she decided to like him. She prided herself on being able to read character. Her only lapse being the fiancé who left her at the altar eight years ago. But that happened a long time in the past, so she didn’t consider it a true measure of her abilities.

“My Lord, I would be happy to help you in any way I can. If you’re interested in commerce, I would dearly love to discuss opening a division of my company in Gandiss. And I am more than willing to share business knowledge with your citizens.”

He gave her a pleased smile. “Excellent. I hoped you would say that. Your father is a skillful negotiator, but I must say, I trust him. I don’t believe he would lie to me.”

“No, my father would never lie. You can count on that,” Belle said.

“I am glad to hear you say so. You also have an honest face, Lady Arabella.” He put a hand over hers.

A scream erupted behind them and they both turned, searching for the root of the disruption. Belle's first thought was to locate her father in the mass of people, but he was nowhere in sight.

The orchestra screeched to a halt and the room filled with a buzz of confused conversation and high pitched exclamations. Arabella's stomach flipped, and the Ambassador's fingers tightened on hers.

She pulled her hand from his grip and hurried forward, a strange chill of fear enveloping her. Where was her father?

Another scream sounded and then another. A group of people blocked her view and she didn’t hesitate in pushing them aside. She gasped when she reached a body sprawled on the floor and noted a trail of red blood tracking from a side room. She recognized the injured man as Conrad Bellows, her father’s assistant. Horrified, her champagne glass slipped from her fingers and shattered on the marble.

She pushed another man out of her way. What the hell was wrong with everyone standing around like statues while a man needed help? She knelt at Conrad's side. A knife protruded from his back but when she put her fingers on his neck she found him still alive, thank God. He struggled to his side and blinked as he looked up at her.

“Gone,” he whispered. “So…sorry, My Lady…gone.”

“Who is gone, Conrad?” She put a hand on his shoulder as panic shot through her.

“You’re, fa, fa, father…they took him.”

“What? Who took him?”

“Ahh, all in black, don’t know…” He closed his eyes and then slumped on the floor, unconscious.

Belle sucked in a sharp breath. She jumped to her feet and spun around. “Someone call for a doctor and help Mr. Bellows. Where’s my father?”

“He was just here. Maybe he went into the sitting room,” a man said, pointing in the direction where Conrad’s bloody trail led. Everyone else stood frozen in position, faces pale.

Their inaction infuriated her. What a bunch of ninnies. She ran forward, her heart pounding. As she reached the doors to the sitting room, a squadron of the queen’s guards burst into the ballroom behind her, but she didn’t wait. She lifted her skirt to avoid Conrad’s blood, pushed through the double doors, and stopped short on the threshold.

Before her, upended furniture littered the room. Statues, flower vases and trinkets formally on tables, now scattered across the elaborate rugs. Double windows at the end of the room stood open to the night sky, and sheer curtains on either side billowed out in the breeze. A chill ran to her core, freezing her heart, and it had nothing to do with the cool evening breeze.

She ran to the window and leaned over the sill. Gas streetlights illuminated the cobblestone street two floors below, but no one appeared either there or on the sidewalks. She choked back a sob. Someone had taken her father. Her fingers curled around the pocket watch tucked into a fold of her skirt—but the special gift from her father brought little comfort in this situation.

“Gandiss, it’s Gandiss!” The cry rose in the room behind her. She turned and slowly made her way back through the door, her head spinning in despair. What had happened to her darling father?

The mass of people transformed into an angry mob, raising fists and glaring. One of the queen’s guards had the knife from Conrad’s back in his hand. Another placed a bandage over his wound and helped lift him onto a stretcher. The ice in her heart thawed a bit to see he still moved.

“It’s a Gandiss dagger,” a man said. “Look at the handle, no doubt about it.”

The guard held aloft a round ivory hilt that tapered to a point, unmistakably made from a snow tiger tooth. Why would Gandiss do such a thing when they were about to sign the treaty? It didn’t make sense. Disbelief fogged her brain as she gazed at the ambassador. He looked directly at her, eyes conveying an appeal for trust. He shook his head and seemed about to come toward her, but his bodyguards grabbed his arms and pulled him from the room.

Her mind whirled with uncertainty. What had happened to her father? And, what did this kidnapping mean? She turned back to the disheveled room, and scanned the area looking for some clue to what had occurred. In her heart she admitted she sought a sign they had not killed him, only taken him captive.

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