Welcome to the May edition of First Monday Free Fiction. To recap, inspired by Kristine Kathryn Rusch who posts a free short story every week on her blog, I’ll post a free story on every first Monday of the month. It will remain free to read on this blog for one month, then I’ll take it down and post another story.
And because I talked about the somewhat premature death announcements for Steampunk in yesterday’s post, what better story to post than my one published foray into the Steampunk genre, Tea and Treachery?
So prepare to accompany Lady Violetta Chesterfield, as she employs her intelligence and all the feminine wiles at her disposal to rescue her fiancé Captain Nicholas Blackstone of the airship Renegade from the gallows…
Tea and Treachery
“Your Excellency…” The bespectacled head of his secretary popped into the study, snivelling as always, “…I beg your pardon to disturb you. But you have a visitor. From England.”
“From England? Again?” With a sigh, Count Danilo Ostrowsky returned the silver flask filled with most excellent vodka to a drawer of his desk. “What do they want this time?”
“The same as usual,” the secretary, one Mr. Wurm, replied, “Beg for mercy for the pirate.”
“Send them away then.” Ostrowsky punctuated the order with a dismissive wave of his hand. “The matter is settled. The pirate will be hanged tomorrow at sunrise, together with his comrades.”
Privately, Ostrowsky wondered just why the British were so very interested in the pirate anyway. Whenever a foreigner was sentenced to death here in the Kingdom of Dragomir, you normally had to deal with an overworked consulate clerk, an ambassador at the very most, if the condemned was particularly important or notorious. The pirate, however, had drawn not just the British ambassador to his study, but even an undersecretary from Whitehall. All of which suggested that the man was no mere pirate after all, but a spy. Just as Ostrowsky had suspected from the very beginning.
Oh well, by this time tomorrow, the matter was academic anyway. The pirate and his crew would swing and there was nothing anybody could do about it.
“But Sir…” Wurm’s normally corpse-pallid cheeks had taken on a hint of red, as if an overzealous undertaker had smeared rouge on them. “…the visitor… it’s a lady.”
“A lady?” Now that was a surprise. Ostrowsky hadn’t even known that Whitehall employed ladies. “Is she pretty?”
“Well, Sir, not that I’m an expert in these matters, but… yes, I think one could say that she is quite attractive.”
Ostrowsky sighed. For if there was one weakness apart from fine vodka that he had, it was pretty women. “Well, send her in then.”
This story was available for free on this blog for one month only, but you can still read it in Tea and Treachery. And if you click on the First Monday Free Fiction tag, you can read this month’s free story.