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

The rumbling stopped. They heard heavy breathing and thumping of large feet.

“Fan out,” Adolphus whispered. “Get out of the light and see what it is.”

The girls did so, Claire and Bettina slipping through the grass one way and the twins the other. Gerhardt stayed by his brother.

A raspy country bur shouted through the night. “I’m looking for six cloche children. Name of von Hedwig?”

“Who wants to know?” Adolphus asked.

They heard a slam, like a coach door flying open. “Roots and leaves! Thank the soil I’ve found you!”

With glad cries of relief the children ran to the coach and into the arms of Lady Aubergine. Adolphus followed, taking care not to fright the horse-orchids with his torch. They shied from the light, panting nervously.

“I looked out my window this afternoon and saw a volcano where the palace should be,” Eglantine explained, “and I was afraid something had happened to you.” She looked at Adolphus, hanging back with the torch. “Of course I should have considered the possibility that you were what happened. She approached the boy, holding her hand towards the flame.

“Hotter than any spring,” she said, “brighter than the sky. And dancing! What makes it dance?”

“We can try to explain that,” Claire said, “but we’ll have to put it out before we can get into a carriage with you. Because you’re a plant you burn more easily than we do.” She looked at the long grass around them. “We could use some water.”

“Yes, please,” Annabelle chimed in, “we’re so thirsty!”

“Take the team to over the south bridge, please,” Lady Aubergine called to the driver.

“We’ll walk behind.”

They followed the carriage, telling her all that had transpired in her absence, though not in any order that made sense. When she had enough pieces to begin asking questions, she did, and put their adventures and mishaps in order.

“There is no evidence, of course, that your parents have come to harm, nor that this Count is anything but a base liar and scoundrel,” she said. “I am sure you were right, Adolphus, that he is not to be believed. He sounds like a nasty, desiccated man. Owain, the fellow with him is a datura, and they are not to be trusted.”

They were reassured, and Bettina, whom Lady Aubergine was carrying, snuggled into her purple hair. At the south bridge they all drank and drank, and Adolphus plunged the torch into the stream with great hissing and smoke. Lady Aubergine was impressed.

“No one ever goes to the volcano, you know,” she told them. “It was a popular outing some time ago but fell out of favor with the current regime. After seeing your little volcano I am quite curious to see what lies in the blighted lands. I do love to travel. Drysi wouldn’t let me out of her sight, though, once she came of age. I wonder if she’s alive?”

They could not answer, and felt terrible just thinking about it. Lady Aubergine did not mention the queen again, but settled the children in her carriage for the ride to her cottage by the sea.

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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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