Saturday, April 28, 2012


So, just recently I came across a new series by Scott Westerfeld, one that will probably remain a personal favorite for many years to come. The first book is titled Leviathan, and tells the story of two teenagers caught up in a steampunk version of WWI. Alek is a prince, son of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie of Austria. When his parents are assassinated, Alek is forced to leave his home and seek shelter before he's targeted. Meanwhile, in London, a young woman named Deryn Sharp disguises herself as a boy to join the air-borne Navy. The stories of these two young adventurers and how their paths cross makes for a captivating story spanning three books. A cast of supporting characters, including the Perspicacious Loris, keeps you laughing during all but the tensest moments. Leviathan and its two sequels, Behemoth and Goliath, are books definitely worth reading.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Writing Prompt

Use this painting by Fernand Toussaint as inspiration for a five-minute short story.

Cymbaline pt. 3

Tomas gave him a surprised look, pausing with a hand on the side of the carriage. He stared up at Nickolai. “You meant to kill Emile?”

“Of course I did! No idiot can insult the family of Dubrovsky without our avenging the slight!”

Tomas didn’t have time to reply. A shot rang out across the clearing, and Nickolai tumbled from the seat. A small cloud of gunpowder drifted out of the woods and past Tomas. He spun to face the thick trees. A small, pale face stared back at him, her eyes hard with fury. “Will you deny that he deserved it?” Cymbaline’s voice was low, dangerous. The tiny pistol in her hand gleamed suddenly as it caught the shifting light.

Tomas shook his head slowly, and she nodded. “I thought not. Leave him and go back to town. If you do not speak, none can say he did not die in the duel. Of course, it was foolish to be shooting so close to the carriages, but few will think of that.” Tomas slowly climbed into the curricle, picking up the dropped reins. “I won’t speak.”

The young lady nodded. "Thank you, sir. I am glad to hear it." She smiled suddenly, tucking her pistol back into her skirts. "I expect I shall see you during the summer season. Good day, sir!" She disapeared into the woods, leaving Tomas alone with a corpse and a carriage. Cymbaline had no doubt that he would keep his word of silence.
The End.
© Emma Seif

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cymbaline Pt. 2

The crunch of fall’s leaves was deafening under his boots as Emile took his position. He heard Tomas’s voice with an awful, supernatural clarity from the other end of the field.

“Turn on two, fire at three! One!” Linnie almost darted forward. She almost took the pistol from Emile’s hand and killed that bastard Nikolai, but Emile’s honor prevented it.

“Two!” Nikolai stared down the field. While he could barely see the buttons on his opponent’s coat, he aimed carefully, confident at least in that.

“Three!” Gunshots cracked the air like lightening.

Loyalty had never been a feeling with Linnie, more like an urge. She got patriotism like some people got seasickness. So when the shots rang, she couldn’t help herself. She shoved her brother aside, his gun flying away across the damp grass. The bullet flew through the air, directly where Emile’s chest had been.

“What the hell, Linnie!” Emile stared up into his sister’s determined face.

Nickolai was bent over him a moment later, his face stricken. “Emile! I’m sorry, I tried to shoot past your shoulder! These guns are dreadfully innaccurate.”

Emile sat up stiffly, his sister rolling off him into the grass. Tomas offered him a hand, and Emile accepted it gratefully. “No harm’s done, though my hip is going to hurt later.”

Linnie scrabled to her feet, brushing down her full skirts. “Better than having a hole in the middle of your chest!” She snapped, glaring at Nickolai. “Is your honor satisfied, sir?”

“Quite adequately.” Nickolai nodded.

“Then you will not object to our being on our way.” Cymbaline took her brother’s arm and led him off the field. There was a closed carriage waiting there, and they disappeared inside.

Nickolai and Tomas watched as the carriage rattled away, then collected the spent pistols and went to their curricle. Nickolai took the reins, still frowning. “I missed! How could I miss?”

Tomas gave him a surprised look, pausing with a hand on the side of the carriage. He stared up at Nickolai. “You meant to kill Emile?”

(c) Emma Seif

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cymbaline's Duel

Nikolai shifted the box in his hands, licking his lips nervously. Emile was standing on the opposite side of the field, staring at him in a sort of angry horror. Nik clutched the box tighter, and cast a nervous glance toward Tomas, who stood beside him. “I don’t know if I can kill him, Tomas. Emile was my friend once.”

“It’s a matter of honor. Shoot into the trees and it’s done. Emile doesn’t want to kill you either.”

Nikolai nodded slowly. “He’s angry; I wish we didn’t have to go through any of this.”

Tomas clapped him on the shoulders. “Nik, look who Emile brought as his second.” He gestured toward the edge of the field, where a fourth person was joining them. “Would he let his sister come if he was serious about this?”

Nik frowned. “You don’t know Emile. Cymbaline is an even better shot than he is.”

Meanwhile, at the other end of the field, Cymbaline was shifting her weight from foot to foot. Her trigger finger itched, and she eyed the pistols that Nikolai and Tomas were handling.

“Why does he get to pick the weapons?”

“Challenger’s choice, dear,” Emile replied. Cymbaline ignored his condescending tone- he might be dead in ten minutes, she couldn’t afford to be annoyed with him.

From the other side, Tomas called impatiently, “Shall we get this over with, then?”

Emile nodded, drawing his lips tightly together. “Get the pistol for me, Linnie. Don’t want them to see…” he trailed off, but Cymbaline looked down at his hands. They shook more than usual. The doctor had said the disease was getting better, but he still couldn’t manage fine work. Gossip said it was a curse, but Linnie believed the physician- and Emile had never been a healthy man.

She ran back quickly and handed her brother the pistol.

Before he took his position, Emile grabbed her arm. “You do know that I never meant anything, don’t you? The remark he took offense to- he misheard- I could never-“

“I know, Emile.” Linnie kissed his cheek. “Do me a favor and don’t die.”

The crunch of fall’s leaves was deafening under his boots as Emile took his position. He heard Tomas’s voice with an awful, supernatural clarity from the other end of the field...

© Mariel Redwood