Steampunk Family
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»



















“Her Majesty will hardly welcome an interruption from us!” Rhodri’s natural fear contradicted his claims of importance without hesitation.

“We don’t have to interrupt,” Claire said. “We just want to listen.”

Rhodri goggled. “Spy on Her Majesty the Queen?”

“Why not?” Annabelle snapped. “She has you spying on us!”

Rhodri colored dark green. “No, no! Enjoy your company! Showing you the lay of the land, making you at home in Court, just, just-”

“Listen to me, Rhodri,” Claire said, “this magician is the man who kidnapped us away from our parents. We escaped from him, but now he’s found us he will hurt us any way he can. You don’t want us to get hurt, do you?”

“No, no, not at all!” Rhodri’s eyes flicked to Bettina. “I don’t want you to be hurt, Claire.”

“Then you should help us. We’re not acting against the Queen. If we get caught you can tell her the whole thing.”

“In fact,” Annabelle added, “the Count is a bad, bad man, and may be a threat to the Queen. It’s your duty to help us. To help us help her. She’ll thank you.”

“No,” Rhodri mumbled, “she won’t.”


Gerhardt ran through the maze-like hedges with no idea which way to the palace. He was short for his age and couldn’t see over the shrubbery, and there was no sun overhead by which he could get his bearings. He darted down a left-hand passage and spied a group of yellow and red peppers at the end of it. Panicked, he dove through the privet. He rolled out the other side just at the feet of a running Mirabelle, who toppled over him in a spray of mulch.


“Sorry,” he gasped.

Mirabelle scrambled to her feet, head craning around, looking for danger.

“What’s chasing you?”

He sat up. “Nothing. Avoiding some peppers.”

Mirabelle stopped dusting off her dress. “Capsicum?”

“No, just people. People peppers.”

“Honestly, Faintheart, get a hold on yourself!” She helped him up. “You know what we should do? We should just walk right into the palace, as if we were going to our rooms, and see how close we can get to you-know-who.”

Gerhardt mumbled, “You were running, too,” but his sister ignored him. They made themselves relatively presentable and strode on their way.


Adolphus jogged back to where he and his brother had seen the Capsicum Chief trying out his new knife. The lawn was deserted but for sliced, hacked, and gouged squash bits. He started circling the palace. The Queen was sure to have her own entrance to the grounds from her private chambers behind the throne room. Adolphus reasoned that an uppity, full-of-herself vegetable like her wouldn’t walk through all those corridors to get outside like she makes everyone else do.

He spied a discarded ball and stick beneath a shrubbery and picked it up. He proceeded around the palace walls, tossing the ball and catching it with the stick, which had a net at the end for that purpose. When he saw a guard standing at attention outside a section of hedge-wall, one of the points that made the five-petaled flower shape of the palace, he jogged by without looking, keeping his footfalls heavy. Making a game of tossing the ball over his head and spinning around to catch it, he checked on the guard every few yards. When he was well past, the guard became absorbed in something he pulled from his pocket. Adolphus arced towards the wall, moving more quietly.
Entries in this series:
  1. On Grandmothers
  2. With A Bang!
  3. In Search of Ancient Angiosperms
  4. Assault on the Galley
  5. The Sorrows of Chef
  6. Faeries, Helpful Siblings, and other Mythological Creatures
  7. Meanwhile, Back in the Lab
  8. A Day of Discovery
  9. The Children’s Hypothesis
  10. A Research Date
  11. Aboard the Schmetterling
  12. The Cave
  13. The Cage
  14. Knee of the Yeti
  15. Kidnapped!
  16. A Clue
  17. The Yeti and the Comb
  18. Fighting the Count
  19. Fighting the Yeti
  20. Falling
  21. Breadcrumbs
  22. The Search is On
  23. Flight to Saigon
  24. On the Streets of Saigon
  25. The Sad Man
  26. At the Grandiere Club Aeronautique
  27. If you Give a Count a Cookie
  28. Out of Cookies
  29. Stuck!
  30. Airships Float?
  31. Where is Claire?
  32. Drowning
  33. Into the Drink!
  34. Boat!
  35. Mushroom Trip
  36. Ambush
  37. The Variegated Strangler
  38. In a Strange Land
  39. Hand over Hand
  40. The Last of the Gouda
  41. An Unusual Breakfast
  42. Downstream
  43. What's for Dinner?
  44. Axe and Fire
  45. Meanwhile, Back at the Airship
  46. Over the Gobi
  47. Return of the Grandmothers
  48. Warning from Huang
  49. Anxious Hours
  50. Ulrik Prepares
  51. Destruction by Dawn
  52. Finding Philomena
  53. No Luck in Pekin
  54. The Children Rescue...Something
  55. Corndog Liberation
  56. The Fate of Corndogs
  57. Have you Tea?
  58. Antafrican Hosptitality
  59. Onion Porridge
  60. Homesick
  61. On the Hunt
  62. Farm Living
  63. Singing for Supper
  64. You Say Potato...
  65. Curiosity is the Foundation of Discovery
  66. An Awkward Position
  67. Trouble Comes Riding
  68. Capsicum Capture
  69. To the Palace
  70. The Death of the Lincoln
  71. War Wings
  72. A Long Way Down
  73. Enter the Lightning
  74. Before the Queen
  75. You are a Tomato!
  76. A Sunken Ship
  77. Eglantine Aubergine
  78. Children of the Soil
  79. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  80. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  81. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  82. The Price of Popcorn
  83. Ulrik and Chef
  84. Fire!
  85. Claire's Bluff
  86. Tomato Queen and Aubergine
  87. It's Going to Blow!
  88. Rhodri in the Gardens
  89. The Servant's Fountain
  90. History Revealed
  91. Fight at the Fountain
  92. Repercussions
  93. Father Discovers the Yeti
  94. Aboard the Lucy Stone
  95. Summoned
  96. The Queen's Accusation
  97. The Queen's Rage
  98. The Khan
  99. The Last War Wing
  100. Eglantine Departs
  101. Thumping Rhodri
  102. Bad News from the Boys
  103. Where's the Count?
  104. In Search of the Count
  105. Spying on the Queen
  106. Confronting the Count
  107. Orphaned?
  108. Orphaned?
  109. Montesanto's Experiments
  110. Montesanto's Experiments
  111. The Queen's Tantrum
  112. Bettina's Tantrum
  113. The Flaming Queen
  114. Uprising!
  115. Uprising!
  116. Escape
  117. On the Run
  118. The Mysterious Coach
  119. Red Racer!
  120. Revolution Reset
  121. By the Acid Sea
  122. Farewell Antafrica
  123. Home Again!
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