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

“Montesanto!” Mirabelle exclaimed. “Is he here?”

Annabelle kicked the Queen’s fountain. “As if we weren’t in enough danger from that crazy tomato head!”

“We haven’t seen him,” Adolphus said, “just a metal knife that may or may not be his – but I don’t see how it can be anyone else’s.”

“We didn’t see him with the Guard. Maybe he dropped it out there somewhere,” Gerhardt waived a hand at the land outside the royal compound. “The Guards might have found it on patrol, while they’re out bullying the peasants.”

“We’d better find out,” Mirabelle said. “Split up and search, but don’t let him see you.”

They heard a scuffing in the path. It had to be Claire – whichever of them was saddled with Rhodri made as much noise as possible, to give the others warning.

They ran, all in different directions, but Annabelle’s way was blocked by a capsicum guard some fifty feet down her path. She stopped, turning slowly and strolling back towards Claire, Bettina, and Rhodri.

“Hullo chaps,” she said, as casual as can be.

“There you are,” Rhodri said. “We’ve been looking all over.”

“Why?” Annabelle asked.

“What?” The boy’s pale green cheeks colored darker green. “Oh, ah, no reason.”

Annabelle looked at Claire, who rolled her eyes. Bettina ignored them all. She had a wooden hoop, the sort one chased about with a stick, hitting it to keep it rolling. It was just taller than she, so rather than hit it, she walked inside it rolling it with her steps. She held her netted ball-game stick in her hand, saving it for smacking Rhodri when he got too close.

Annabelle eyed the spy with close consideration.

“Well I’ve been looking for you,” she improvised.

“What?” Rhodri gaped. “Why?”

“Because I’ve heard a rumor. Since you’re in the know around here, you can tell me what’s really going on.”

“Oh, oh yes, I am, really.” He addressed himself to Claire, puffing up his chest. “I’m quite well-connected, you know. Mother is related to the Capsicum Chief on her father’s-”

Annabelle interrupted him. She had heard the complex and distant genealogy before.

“Is there a visitor at court? Tall man, dark hair, nasty smudgy mustache?”

Claire’s eyes widened.

“Well, actually, Her Revered Majesty is interviewing a court magician today. Perhaps that’s the fellow you’ve heard about.” He looked thoughtful, which he seldom did. “Funny, isn’t it, how you lot show up talking of magicians and then one shows up. Is it your father, do you think?”

“No,” Claire said, “it isn’t funny. And it isn’t Father. Where is the Queen interviewing the magician?”
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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