Persevering with our serial of GeekMom Corrina Lawson’s steampunk journey/thriller novel, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract:
In a Victorian London the place magic fuels steam know-how…
Joan Krieger goals of revolutionizing trend for this new, modernized world however a hidden enemy stalks her household’s clothes enterprise, turning her dream right into a nightmare.
When Joan is a witness to a shopper being murdered by magic, she turns to the one man who might help: Gregor Sherringford, consulting detective. Collectively, they develop into a formidable workforce however their investigation pulls apart a curtain of sorrow and secrets and techniques that threaten every part in Joan’s life. Solely by risking her very soul can she uncover the reality, a fact that Gregor fears she might not survive.
On this chapter, Joan uncovers a bitter fact about her father’s insanity, one which’s almost inconceivable to digest. However, sorry, Joan, issues are about to worsen.
All earlier chapters may be discovered right here.
The whole guide is obtainable at Amazon and different digital bookstores.
Brimstone? Cope with the satan?
Joan went again to the phrase within the contract that had troubled her. Brilliant, shiny, cherished possession akin to life.
“A soul stealer,” she breathed. “This can be a contract for my father to surrender his soul to Roylott.”
She collapsed into the chair and, because it creaked, she famous it was fairly probably the most snug chair she’d ever been in, besides that it was far too massive.
How unusual to really feel so snug when studying the traditional legends and bogeymen of her childhood have been true. Now she knew what her father had been rambling on about. “Soul stealers.” She flung her arms within the air. “What’s subsequent? Will a golem hang-out London for an encore?”
Gregor grimaced. “We will hope not.”
She put her head in her arms. “This isn’t the time on your odd humorousness.”
“No.” He got here round to her aspect of the desk and leaned towards it, dealing with her. “However I’ve to say that, strictly talking, your father’s soul was not stolen. It was contracted out.”
“A cope with the satan.” She closed her eyes once more. Spots appeared earlier than her eyes, as that they had when she’d fainted in her father’s workplace. However this torment would keep together with her. Magic couldn’t defeat this data nor erase it from her reminiscence. “Is Roylott some kind of supernatural evil from the Christian hell?” She braced herself for a further blow.
“Apologies. There, I used to be being metaphorical. He’s human, not the satan.”
“That’s some consolation.” She took a deep breath, releasing a small portion of her rigidity. “So, Roylott is a mage misusing magic?”
“A strong mage who has turned to evil. The worst nightmare of those that research magic. Roylott is so highly effective that he has managed to cover what he’s for these a few years, whereas slowly draining your father’s soul to realize energy.”
“Energy my father gave to him willingly. Why?” She pounded the desk. “For God’s sake, why would my father do such a factor?”
“What does the contract say?” Gregor stated in a quiet whisper.
She bent to the phrases once more. Now all of them fell into place. “It says Roylott will use his mage capacity to make sure Krieger & Sims will thrive. It ensures that as long as bits of the soul come to Roylott, nothing will occur to the enterprise.”
“That is the supply of your father’s insanity. His very existence has been chipped away, piece by piece. It’s why he reeks of magic.”
“Roylott has… That is…vile. Unspeakable.” She appeared skyward. “Father, you’re such a idiot.”
Gregor stayed blissfully silent. She crossed her arms on the desk and let her head drop to relaxation on them. Her cranium was starting to pound.
“It isn’t actually unspeakable, as in any other case we couldn’t talk about it,” Gregor stated.
She raised her head, able to snap at him, however his expression was so bland that she leaned again within the chair and laughed. “My life is absurd.”
Her abdomen picked that actual second to rumble. As she rubbed her temples once more, she tried to trace how lengthy it had been since she had eaten.
“Are you hungry?” Gregor snapped to consideration.
“In fact, I’m bloody hungry! All I’ve had up to now twenty-four hours has been a glass of brandy.”
His face fell, and he appeared across the room as if anticipating meals to all of a sudden seem out of the air.
“Gregor, is there any meals on this home?”
He straightened. “You understand, I haven’t the faintest concept.” He shoved his palms into his pockets. “Fairly. I’ll endeavor to seek out some sustenance for you, er, us.”
He swept out of the room earlier than she might say one other phrase, and she or he heard the heavy entrance door open after which shut a minute later. He paced again into the room, his expression smug.
“I’ve despatched somebody to fetch us a scorching meal.”
“Good.” Her abdomen rumbled once more. “Now, inform me, what’s brimstone and why is it throughout a contract to promote a soul?”
“Brimstone is a standard identify for the aspect sulfur. Although it often has no odor, it may possibly typically faintly odor like a match catching hearth. Sulfur can also be utilized in heating rubber to strengthen it, rubber that’s then used for steam car tires.”
“I hardly assume that has something to do with my father’s soul.”
“Utilizing sulfur in rubber was what led to the invention that brimstone might maintain magical power.”
Even drained and starved, her mind realized what he’d actually stated. “My gloves and Woman Gray’s scarf have been dusted with brimstone.”
“Sure, and I might guess the cravat as properly. They have been bespelled to commit homicide. Fairly ingenious, although twisted.”
She rubbed her temples. “However why? The contract says Roylott will make the enterprise thrive, however the murders killed our enterprise, and now Roylott himself is out of a job. This is senseless.”
None of it made sense. She questioned if she had been dreaming since Woman Gray’s dying. Or, if she have been lifeless or unconscious from breaking into the protected and imagining all this.
Gregor’s kiss, nevertheless, had appeared very actual.
She stumbled to her ft as a loud thud echoed into the room.
“That’s solely a knock on the entrance door. Turn into snug, Joan, that’s our meals.”
She moved from behind the desk, away from the hated contract and onto a lounge set beneath the window. The drapes have been closed, however mild entered by way of a slit within the curtains. She pulled them again to see the world had turned gray and murky whereas she’d slept and discovered of horrible issues.
A thick fog had settled from the bottom to the second and third tales of the houses on the road. She couldn’t see clearly previous a number of ft in entrance of the manor. Come darkish, there can be no navigating the night time with no highly effective lantern.
And with the fog, there was no understanding precisely what time it was. I’m trapped in a world of gray with no means out.
Gregor strode into the room. The odor of hen, gravy and potatoes made her almost weep with aid. He carried two steaming pies baked in low cost tin, set on a pewter tray that undoubtedly was not low cost. The silver utensils have been of comparable high quality.
She had no concept the place the pies had come from so shortly and didn’t ask. The crust was flaky, filled with taste, and the peas, carrots, and hen inside have been piping scorching. She set to consuming, decided to at the very least do one thing that may make her really feel higher.
After a number of moments of silence, Gregor pushed his almost empty pie tin to the aspect. “I do really feel a lot refreshed.”
He poured them glasses of liquid from a decanter set on a small spherical desk within the nook.
“Is that this brandy?” She took the glass he provided.
“Solely a pink wine, although, strictly talking, we should always drink white with hen. However pink is what we’ve.”
She sipped and was glad it didn’t burn because the brandy had. “Gregor, it’s a must to again up for me. We spoke of promoting souls and contracting souls, however we all know Roylott is human, not the satan. So what’s a soul? Some type of magical component in an individual?”
“You’ve got simply requested a query that the good philosophers of the world have been making an attempt to reply because the daybreak of time.” He settled himself into an armchair, palms in a steeple, simply as he’d accomplished when he’d heard her pleas to simply accept her case.
“You clearly know, since you recognize that soul stealing may be finished. So inform me.”
She completed the pie and wiped her face, wishing she had a mirror to make sure gravy hadn’t splattered on the elegant gown.
“Every individual appears to own a life pressure,” he stated, emphasizing every phrase. “Let’s say we’re speaking about you, as you’re a highly effective mage. Your physique is infused with power, absorbed via the solar. You’re bursting with it. It’s lovely and highly effective.”
He paused, as if ensuring she was nonetheless listening.
She blushed on the praise. “I’m following to date.”
“Good. I advised you that mages can take up photo voltaic power and re-channel it, and that the waste product of that is mage coal. Properly, there’s one other forbidden strategy to take in power: to take it from one other individual. That power is exponentially extra highly effective and concentrated than photo voltaic power.”
“Which is why somebody would need to steal it.”
“It’s not really easy as all that. This life power, this soul, because it’s referred to as, is bonded to an individual. To ensure that the power to be helpful to another person, it have to be given freely and a spell have to be forged. Naturally, most individuals don’t want to do this. Or, theoretically, it may be ripped from the individual, however that requires extra energy than any mage has ever displayed.”
“And since most individuals consider that mages are solely discovered among the many higher courses and are uneducated in all that you’re educating me, most individuals wouldn’t perceive how soul stealing works.”
Gregor nodded. “However by some means Roylott acquired not solely the information to turn out to be a strong mage but in addition the best way to correctly purchase a soul. Therefore, the contract.”
“And since my father loses a few of his life pressure, actually, each time Roylott takes a bit of his soul, that accounts for his matches.” She sat again on the sofa, frowning. She must be so indignant. She was. However understanding the supply of her father’s sickness felt as if an enormous weight had been faraway from her shoulders. “Can my father recuperate? Might he be entire once more?”
“He must spend years merely sitting within the solar to reacquire sufficient power to heal what was misplaced. And if he was not a mage at first, that might be inconceivable.” He paused. “I’m sorry, Joan. If he have been a strong mage, he wouldn’t have wanted to signal the contract. I worry his situation is irreversible.”
“There’s nothing to be finished for him?”
Gregor seemed away and completed his glass of wine.
“Rattling you, don’t mislead me, Gregor Sherringford. There’s at the least one different choice.”
He stood and commenced pacing. “The one option to heal your father is for Roylott to voluntarily return what he took from him. However since returning your father’s soul might kill Roylott, I don’t see him as giving it up, even when he’s arrested.”
She stood. “That’s the one results of all this? Roylott arrested and my father nonetheless an invalid?” She shook her head. “Krieger & Sims is destroyed irrevocably. Our enterprise supervisor has dedicated at the very least two murders and might be uncovered as somebody who used magic to kill. Even when Inspector Davis and Colonel Moran don’t shutter our doorways endlessly, potential clients will probably be far too afraid to purchase our clothes.”
“Whenever you got here to me, you requested me to unravel Woman Gray’s homicide. You stated you need to have solutions. Now you have got them.”
He held out his palm, flat, as if to emphasise that what he had given her was all he needed to give.
“Solutions.” Her shoulders sagged. “So I did. Emet is what you gave me.”
“The Hebrew phrase for fact.” She rolled her shoulders, remembering how she’d indulged in an extended crying match simply final night time. Grief was over. A process was at hand. “So, Roylott is in hiding? How can we catch him?”
“I used to be considering that—”
A loud thud sounded within the hallway, from the path of the entrance door. Gregor rushed out of the room, a pistol in his hand. She adopted at his heels.
Sir August Milverton stood within the entrance doorway, a heavy cane in a single hand, a gun within the different.
Picture copyright Corrina Lawson