Steampunk Family


July 28, 2012
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»

The children’s flight to the gate was unopposed. They were passed by grim servants moving towards the palace, and outstripped by frightened nobles fleeing it. They left the palace grounds and kept running. After half a mile a panting Mirabelle called out.

“Where are we going?”

They stopped, part way up the rise from which they had first seen the palace. They turned to look at it again, no longer the serene, ordered flower, but bustling with action,  harrowed with screams, and pouring smoke.

“That’s what was wrong with it,” Claire announced.


“When I first saw the palace I thought something was odd, remember?”

“No,” Adolphus said.

“Well I did, and it’s because there was no smoke, no fires, no chimneys!” Claire was pleased with herself, another problem solved.

Mirabelle tried again. “Where are we going?”

“Eglantine,” Bettina said. She was crying, and Claire held her tight.

“You saved us all, Bettina. Don’t be sad. They were going to hurt us and you saved us all,” Annabelle said.

She rolled the tip of her sputtering torch into the dirt to put it out.

“Lady Aubergine’s a good idea, but we don’t know where she is,” Adolphus said.

“We do,” Claire said. “South by southeast. Who still has a compass?”

Gerhardt did, and they set off to find a cottage by the acid sea.

They trudged some miles before anyone spoke again. Bettina stopped crying and demanded to be put down and walk herself.

“Will they be alright? At the palace?” Gerhardt wondered.

“Not all of them,” Adolphus said. “The guards were better armed, but outnumbered.”

“If they’re smart they’ll have stopped fighting and run away,” Mirabelle said. “Throw down their weapons and yell ‘hail Aubergine’, and the like.”

“But what about the fire?” Gerhardt stopped and looked behind them. They had entered a wood, and couldn’t see the pillar of smoke through the canopy, if it was still there.

“They were confused at first, but once it got hot I’m sure they got away.” Claire did not sound convinced.

“The walls were living bushes,” Annabelle said. “They wouldn’t burn would they?”

“If it’s hot enough, anything will burn.” No one disputed Adolphus. He had a reputation for reckless experimentation, and if anyone present had authority in this matter, it was he. “But it’s a big palace with several exits. We saw loads of people fleeing, there’s no reason to think there were any more casualties than we saw.”

“Speaking of which,” Mirabelle said, “someone is missing an eyebrow.”

Gerhardt’s hand flew to his face and felt. “Dash it, it’s gone!” He waggled the remaining brow. “Do I look funny?”

This drew peals of laughter from the others. They were so in need of a laugh that they staggered to a halt, leaning against trees for support, or falling down outright. Gerhardt scowled. Mirabelle threw her arms around him.

“Don’t fret, it makes you look dangerous and dashing,” she spluttered through tears of laughter.

“No, really,” Annabelle said as they calmed down. “That was the most awfully bravest thing I’ve ever seen. You saved that girl’s life!”

“You don’t know the half of it,” Mirabelle said. “When the Count said he would cut Adolphus up, Gerhardt charged in and attacked the Capsicum Chief! No plan, no weapons, just jumped on him, knocked him down and beat him about the head.”

“What?” Claire exclaimed.

“S’true,” Adolphus admitted, “I was already tied up. He was like a tiger.”

“Well that’s the end of that,” Annabelle said, “no more calling you Faintheart.”

“Right! More like Braveheart now,” Mirabelle agreed.

Gerhardt blushed with pride.

“Or unibrow,” Adolphus suggested.
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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