Authors: Odette C. Bell
Tags: #romance, #steam punk, #action adventure, #alternate history
in this publication are fictitious, any resemblance to real
persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
and the Eye of Horus
2013 Odette C. Bell
This book is in
Cover art stock
photos: Steampunk Cage Lady 3d Computer Graphics © Majorgaine.
Licensed from Depositphotos.
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walked confidently across the roof. It did not matter that it was
sloped and the tiles were wet with the morning's rain. Nor that it
was tall—it was so high it peered over the other buildings of
London below me. I stepped forward, my balance and poise perfect.
With my eyes locked on the view, I never once had to glance at my
This high up
there was a vicious, whipping wind that buffeted my skirts. The
sound of it reminded one of wet sheets slapping in the wind. Though
my dress was voluminous, not once did it catch me off balance.
Nothing could. It was as if my feet were rooted into the slate
It was going
on dusk, and soon would be dark. Below I could see lights
flickering on, torches and lamps—their light holding the dark at
head to the side, I peered down at those very lights, my hair
twirling and whipping around me. I caught hold of my fringe,
pressing it behind my ear, and I waited.
accustomed to waiting.
Though I was
far up, I could still hear the sounds of the city below, even over
the noise of my skirts slapping in the wind.
I heard people
talking. I heard horses and carts being drawn across the uneven
cobbles below. I heard doors opening and shutting. Querulous words,
hearty singing, and laughter. I smelt the odours of cooking
intermingled with the muck and dirt of the street.
girl in my position would be unable to see and hear and smell as I
now did. Then again, an ordinary girl would not be standing in my
position. The wind would have picked up her skirts and blown her
out to the river long ago.
I imagine you
have now guessed that I am no ordinary girl.
My name is Twincy Quinn and I am a suitable. In fact, I am the
I realise you
have no understanding of what that implies. Soon you will.
I tipped my
head back, narrowing my eyes as I took another step forward.
sloped down to a large, copper gutter, which ran around the top of
the building. There were gargoyles positioned on each corner of the
roof, and I now leaned into one, a foot pressed into the gutter,
another against the base of the gargoyle. Placing a hand on its
back, I leaned over the roof to stare down.
I was waiting
A gust of wind
plastered my hair over my face, whisking my long black ponytail
behind me like a whip.
I ignored it.
The same gust of wind blew at my skirts, beating and pushing the
fabric against my legs and waist. I ignored that too.
gave a creak, protesting my weight upon it.
I ignored that
Instead I paid
utmost attention to what greeted my eyes. I stared at a building
two blocks away. It was tall and in the very clean, very well-to-do
area of town. It was three stories, with fresh new slate on the
roof, a beautiful brick facade, white windowsills, a white door,
and cast-iron window grills.
I focussed in
on one of the upper windows. It was open.
Then, as a
single breath trapped itself in my chest, pushing against the tight
fabric of my bodice, I saw it.
A flash of
white and black.
It was no cat.
It was no magpie. It was not a blanket or a piece of fabric that
had been draped over the windowsill to dry in the wind.
I knew what it
I knew what
they were after.
It was not
money. It was not jewels, nor special artefacts from foreign lands.
The suitable was not climbing in the window of that gentleman’s
home to pilfer what it could.
It was after
raw material to make into more of its kind.
A young person
small enough to kidnap and take back to its master.
A man who had
once been my master too.
Many in London
believed him to be the miracle maker of modern times. A man who had
forced us out of the dark ages into a wonderful modernity. He built
machines that nobody conceived of as possible. Flying contraptions,
devices that could go under the water, mechanisms that could dig
under the earth. He somehow conceived of weaponry centuries beyond
anything any enemy of England could invent. He surveyed the world
and all its glories with extraordinary scientific accuracy, prying
into the greatest secrets and laying them bare before him. Obsessed
with accuracy and power, he drove out traditions that hindered
him a visionary. I called him a monster. And I did all within my
power to stop him.
I brought my
hands up and stared at them.
under me gave a groan, yet I didn't even glance down to check that
it was stable. Instead I slowly turned my hands over and over. I
gazed at the fingertips, the whorls in my skin, the creases of my
ordinary citizen of England I would look like a normal young
poor, yes, but normal.
deceiving. As a young street urchin, Doctor Elliot Esquire acquired
me. And I had never been the same since.
I angled my
head to the side sharply as I heard a scraping sound. I pressed my
eyes open wide and leaned as far forward as I could.
moving in on the house.
kidnap someone. Someone like me. To take them back to the doctor,
and to ruin their lives. Well I wasn't going to permit it. Ever
since I had escaped from the doctor, I had pressed my life into one
task and one task alone. Saving others like me before the doctor
I had not been
quick enough to save myself.
I was changed.
Yet I would use those changes for the benefit of others.
Taking a step
forward, my boots now pressed half over the edge of the gutter, yet
I still had the balance to stand.
I was dressed
in the ordinary garb of a woman of my day. A grey and brown dress
with many skirts, a relatively tight bodice, and thick white
bloomers underneath. I also wore sturdy boots on my feet, far
sturdier than your ordinary lady would wear.
appropriate. I was nowhere near your ordinary lady.
To prove just
that, I did something incredible.
amazed me. It would never stop amazing me.
I twisted on
my foot. I closed my eyes. And I let myself fall backwards off the
around me. My skirts pushed up, flapping in the wind as I fell. My
hair streamed in front of my face.
scream. I wasn't terrified. Though of course my stomach gave a kick
continued to fall, faster now, faster still.
As I felt the
ground rushing up below me, knowing it was there without having to
turn and open my eyes, I flipped in the air.
lights of London seemed to dance behind my half closed eyes until
finally I snapped them open.
the air, I saw a flash of the cobble street below me. Dark, there
was no one there. It was a side alley.
That's why I
had picked it.
I was about to
fall to the ground.
I hit the
I did not fall
to the side like a felled tree. I did not snap my spine and break
my bones. I didn't tumble forward, a messy puddle on the
No, I landed
like a cat. One knee pressed into the cobbles, and two hands ready
to push into the ground to bring me upright.
I paused there
for one second.
were cracked underneath me, broken by the force of my fall.
My black hair
dropped in front of my face like a fan. Perfectly straight, shiny,
and evenly trimmed. With a flick of my head, I whisked it over my
shoulders as I stood upright.
I was not hurt
in any way. Yes, my knees and hands tingled, and my boots would
need the heels replaced in several weeks if I kept jumping off
clock towers. Apart from that, I was fully functional. And ready
for a tussle.
With a careful
check over my shoulder, to ensure that nobody had witnessed my
feat, I pushed into a sprint.
As I did, I
whisked the shawl from around my middle. I brought it over my hair
and face, covering as much as I could.
And I pressed
For I did not
have much time.
would have the child by now, and I was its last
A girl like me
should not be running through the streets of well-to-do London
dressed as I am. The hems of my skirts were always muddy and torn,
and my boots had never seen a shine since the day I had found them
in a rubbish bin.
As I pushed
forward, fortunately there were few people on the street. Though
they did mumble and turn my way, I walked with purposeful, swift
strides. Fortunately I knew enough of the back alleys, side
streets, and culverts that if I were to attract anybody's
attention, I would be able to throw them off quickly.
I headed to
The house I
had seen from atop the clock tower.
I was focused
and I knew the risks. Though I was undoubtedly the greatest of
Doctor Elliot Esquire’s creations, I was not unbeatable. By no
account. Should he choose to send enough forces against me, I too
would succumb to death. Or worse. He could recapture me, take me
back to his lab, and finish the work he had once started.
I could not,
would not let that happen. Just as I could not let any more
children be taken by him.
my boots practically a blur as I picked up my skirts and sprinted
forward, I ducked behind a lip in a wall as I heard a carriage move
past. The clink of its wheels and the shoes of the horse shifted
through the cobbles and up into my body. Without peeping out from
behind the hole, I used those vibrations to ascertain when it was
safe to come out.
With a quick
breath, I looked up.
There it was,
on the other side of the street.
beautiful. The perfect gentleman’s town residence.
I’d been an illiterate urchin when Esquire had kidnapped me, he had
changed me with his machines, and he had educated me. Fast. At many
times the input of an ordinary person, Esquire had used his
technology and abilities to increase my natural intelligence.
facts and strategies and stories whirling around in my brain that
without doubt many would believe did not belong in the mind of an
science, astronomy, chemistry, cartography, history, languages, and
I knew survival. I also knew how to make weapons and how to
Esquire had turned me into what I was today.
Yet he had
been unable to change my heart.