Key the Steampunk Vampire Girl and the Tower Tomb of Time (9781941240076)

BOOK: Key the Steampunk Vampire Girl and the Tower Tomb of Time (9781941240076)
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Key the Steampunk Vampire Girl

&

The Tower Tomb of Time

CONTENTS

ONE

The Cursed Stairwell

TWO

A Magical Incantation

THREE

The Dimensionally Intelligent Operating System

FOUR

The Wicked Watchmen

FIVE

The Doorackle Alleyway

SIX

Through the Doorackle Alleyway

SEVEN

Silas the Cybernetic Cyclops

EIGHT

The MotorHog

NINE

The Time Paradox

TEN

The Fields of the Worm King

ELEVEN

A Flying Lesson

TWELVE

The Bewitched Hobbeetle

THIRTEEN

Penelope

FOURTEEN

Grave of the Grim Goblin

FIFTEEN

The Eye of DIOS

SIXTEEN

The Tower Tomb of Time

SEVENTEEN

The Sparks of Timefire

EIGHTEEN

Through Another Doorackle Alleyway

NINETEEN

Homecoming

TWENTY

Old Queen Crinkle Attacks

TWENTY-ONE

The Vengeance of Margrave Snick

TWENTY-TWO

The Subcommittee Preventing Oddly Odious Kerfuffles

TWENTY-THREE

The Floating Mansion

Key the Steampunk Vampire Girl and theTower Tomb of Time

Becket

Copyright © 2013 Becket

All rights reserved.

Smashwords Edition

ISBN: 1-941240-07-0

ISBN-13: 978-1-941240-07-6

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the creators’ imagination or are used fictitiously.

Under copyright law, if you are not the copyright owner of this work, you are forbidden to reproduce, create derivative works based on this work, download, distribute copies of the work, decompile this work without Becket’s express written permission.

for Christina

for Raven Quinn

for Anne

— CHAPTER ONE —

The Cursed Stairwell

Key the Steampunk Vampire Girl felt terribly underdressed as she broke out of the Dungeon of Despair. Barefooted, with her wild red hair completely mussed, she was still in her white nightgown spotted with little jack-o’-lanterns. Her Crinomatic would have certainly made a proper outfit for her, perhaps one with black boots and brass gadgets; but she had lost it when Silas the Cybernetic Cyclops attacked the Necropolis Castle and knocked a hole in the dungeon wall. The black water of Melancholy Moat had flooded in and drowned all that she’d ever owned in the past two hundred and fifty years of imprisonment – which wasn’t much, save for her Crinomatic and her little book,
Wanda Wickery’s History of the Necropolis - A Small Book With a Big Story
.

Miss Broomble was certainly well-dressed for the occasion. Every time the witch visited Key in the dungeon, she always wore the most amazing clothes and gadgets. Tonight was no different. She had returned fashionably prepared to help Key escape the dungeon, as well as stop Old Queen Crinkle from escaping the Necropolis. Miss Broomble looked just like a warrior, wearing a brass half-mask over her mouth and nose; an armor shirt made of copper plates, with gearwheels on her shoulders, legs, and arms; while her long black hair was tied back in a knot between two smokestacks that rose up from her back and perpetually gushed out billows of steam.

“Stay close to me,” said Miss Broomble as she took Key by the hand and led her from the dungeon up the Cursed Stairwell.

Most of the Mystical Creatures that had set up shops and businesses had already fled this way. And most had survived.

Along the first hundred stairs or so, holes in the walls and floors would open up and green hands with black fingernails would pop out and try to grab Key’s bare feet, to yank her into the darkness of their holes. She was glad that Tudwal the immortal puppy-wolf was with her, along with Pega the ghost maid, too, who was invisible due to a castle rule that forbade her from appearing. They were both constantly saving Key. Tudwal would sniff when a hole opened while, at the first sight of green hands, Pega would shriek wildly. Key would leap over their knobby green fingers and Tudwal would bite their green wrists. Most hurriedly slithered back inside their holes; and soon they stopped coming out altogether, all except one, which shot out fearlessly and snatched at Key’s foot. Tudwal immediately clamped down on it and pulled it out from the floor. Key was disgusted to discover that the hand was just that – a living hand attached to an arm, and nothing else. But Tudwal didn’t seem to mind. He carried it off and buried it like a bone.

When they finally got through that part of the Cursed Stairwell, they came to another part where the stairs had gone missing.

“No, they’re not missing,” explained Miss Broomble. “They just got bored and wandered off. They should be back soon.”

Key looked down. At her feet was a long drop into a pit full of mindless zombies, all of whom seemed to be in the middle of a competition for the Ghastliest Moan.

Stranger than that, Key thought she heard the sound of very loud snoring competing with them, but she could not tell where the snoring was coming from. It seemed to be all around her.

Key and Tudwal could have easily gotten beyond this gap in the stairs by either climbing the walls or walking on the ceiling. But like most other witches, Miss Broomble could do neither. Nor could she use a spell for levitation or flying.

“The poltergeists will know,” she said.

“What poltergeists?” asked Key, unable to see any.

Miss Broomble took from her belt a brass canister with the words
Mist Map
etched along the side in stylish lettering. She sprayed the contents of the canister in the air, a fine blue mist formed along the stairwell like a cloud, and somehow the cloud gave shape to the poltergeists. Key could see them now, filling the air, and snoring with their mouths wide open.

“Poltergeists above,” said Miss Broomble, “zombies below.”

“The Deadlings,” said Key under her breath, referring of course not to the poltergeists or the zombies, but to the Necropolis Vampires who had imprisoned her in the first place. “They don’t want anyone escaping the dungeon.”

“They don’t want anyone escaping Despair,” remarked the grandmotherly voice of Pega, more to herself than to Key, since castle rules also forbade the ghost maid from speaking with castle vampires. If she got caught speaking to Key just once, Pega would suffer the worst punishment imaginable, which would be to spend at least one night in the Toag Cage – a thought that made the invisible ghost give an invisible shudder.

“These poltergeists are under a sleeping spell,” Miss Broomble informed them. “The only thing that will awaken them is a disturbance in the air, such as if a witch uses flying magic, or if a Mystical Creature walks along the walls or the ceiling. Not even Pega can float past them.”

“That
is
the rumor, Miss Broomble,” said Pega in agreement; for the craziness of the castle rules did in fact permit her to speak with Mystical Creatures like witches and immortal puppies, as Key well knew, having heard the ghost maid chastise Tudwal on more than one occasion for making a rather large puppy mess. “But I can’t say if the rumors are true,” Pega went on saying. “Honestly, I’ve never gone this way. Too afraid to.” Through the Mist Map’s blue cloud, Pega’s ghostly outline could be seen wringing her ghostly hands and muttering nervously to herself, “Oh dear, oh dear,” which showed her to be a squat little ghost, who had been quite matronly in life. “Some say that,” she added, “if a castle ghost passes this way, the poltergeists will turn us into droplets of green goo. I heard it happened to Mr. Widdershins, an old ghost butler I once knew. He came down to the dungeon to look for a feather duster. Never came back up.”

“So how do we get past these poltergeists?” asked Key, eyeing one nasty-looking poltergeist with very sharp teeth.

As if in answer to her question, the Mist Map’s blue cloud shaped into a miniature model of the stairwell. By the look of it, the stairs went up and up and up, almost endlessly. Miss Broomble leaned closer to the Mist Map and found little rectangular images coming back down from the castle. She breathed a sigh of relief. “Fortunately, the stairs had only gone off to the Wandering Scullery for a quick wash. Must have been sullied by Melancholy Moat’s black floodwater. They’re on their way back down now; it should only be a few minutes. I must admit I feared for a moment that the stairs might have gone on holiday again to Jamaica.”

Key marveled as she watched the cloudy images of the stairs move through the Mist Map.

“All those times you came to visit me in the dungeon,” she said, now turning to Miss Broomble, “did you always come this way? Did you have to go up and down these stairs?”

The witch smiled at Key with friendly affection. “I would have gone through much worse for you. Besides, this is a cakewalk compared to what I’ve seen with Mr. Fuddlebee. Once we had to crawl on our bellies through the Magic Mines of the Mostly Dead Mole King. I can tell you, not as fun as it sounds.”

Key didn’t think it sounded fun at all. She did not know all the details of Miss Broomble’s life, or the work she did with SPOOK (which stood for Subcommittee Preventing Oddly Odious Kerfuffles). But upon hearing this, the inside of her chest began to swell like a balloon with a newfound affection for the witch. In all her two hundred and fifty years in the Dungeon of Despair, she had never guessed that Miss Broomble had gone through so much for her – and had done so several times, too.

A few long minutes passed before Key could actually see the stairs wandering back down the stairwell on blocky legs of stone. Tudwal came scurrying back right at that time; his nose begrimed with fresh dirt, too, which Pega promptly wiped clean. Miss Broomble pressed buttons on her armor shirt, making lights blink rapidly while steam gushed out more hurriedly from the smokestacks on her back.

“Get ready,” she said from behind her half-mask.

“Miss Broomble,” came Pega’s voice again out of the air, “I know alternative ways out of the dungeon. Please, tell my Mistress —”

“Pega,” interrupted Key, knowing that Pega referred only to her as
Mistress
, “you can speak to me. I won’t tell anyone you did.”

Pega cleared her ghostly throat and went on speaking with Miss Broomble, “Please, tell my Mistress that I will travel with her to the ends of the world, but if it’s all the same to her, I would prefer taking a route less perilous for ghosts, lest I get turned into droplets of green goo by these dreadful poltergeists.”

“It’s all right,” said Key, not waiting for Miss Broomble to respond. “I’ll be fine. Find your way out. I’ll meet you up top.”

“Miss Broomble,” said Pega again, “please, tell my Mistress for me, Thank you.”

“Will do,” Miss Broomble said, regarding Key with a knowing grin.

The stairs returned to their places, fitting together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Before they’d finished, Miss Broomble began hopping from one to another up the stairwell. Key followed her while Tudwal followed after them both. They never woke the poltergeists, who were snoring so thunderously they could have raised the Mostly Dead. The mindless zombies in the pit below did notice them, however, and tried to reach for them; but as they were mindless, they also had very short attention spans. If food was not right in front of them, they quickly forgot about it – and sometimes they even forgot about it while it was still in their mouths. So at almost the exact same moment they saw Miss Broomble, Key, and Tudwal, hopping from stair to stair, they instantly forgot about them and recommenced their game of competitive moaning.

Miss Broomble finally came to where the stairs had not wandered off and she waited for Key to catch up. Key was hopping from one stair to the next when a violent explosion suddenly shook the castle. Silas the Cybernetic Cyclops was still attacking. Tudwal leaped into Miss Broomble’s arms, but several stairs came loose and fell into the zombie pit, almost taking Key down with them. Fortunately at the last moment, she quickly grabbed the sturdier stairs at Miss Broomble’s feet and held on. The mindless zombies saw her and began reaching up for her, but a moment later, they forgot about her and remembered that they had begun to vote on the scariest moan. Meanwhile, Miss Broomble reached down, grabbed Key’s hands, and pulled her up.

As they continued going up the Cursed Stairwell, Silas also continued his attack on the castle, shaking it so violently that it seemed as if the ceiling might collapse on them at any moment. Dust drizzled down. Key had to dodge falling stones while Miss Broomble uttered powerful incantations to fling them out of the way – “
Surge DIOS iudica
” – but Tudwal was bounding playfully between them, thinking this was a wonderful game.

In addition to all this, the Cursed Stairwell had begun shooting out fireballs that had been charmed to not only chase trespassers, but also to taunt them mercilessly with fiery words, like “froze nose” and “icy face” and “nippy rump,” and other terms that any flame worth its spark would find terribly offensive.

BOOK: Key the Steampunk Vampire Girl and the Tower Tomb of Time (9781941240076)
6.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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