Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Steampunk Spy; Agnastas Hoolia

A steampunk--fantasy--spy--adventure novel.  A novel broken down into a four-part serial and introducing Agnastas Hoolia to the unsuspecting reading public.

Agnastas Hoolia. 

Part spy  . . . part adventurer . . . a talented wizard.  Works for twelve clans of magicians (White Magic) who have formed an organization called The Inter Dimensional Magic Bureau.
A very large organization which spans through Time and Space who combat the dark machinations of the twenty six or so clans who use Black Magic to further their devious plans. (Their plans being, of course, to dominate and rule entire worlds found in the nineteen or so known universes)

The idea is to bring out a four-part novel with each novel between 22,000 to 28,000 words.   Each part has its own cover.  I thought I'd reveal the cover and maybe share the first chapter of the novel.  Just to whet your appetite, of course.

I'm waiting for some black and white pen drawings to be completed (six in total) I plan to insert into the entire novel.  The first two will be found in the first offering.  I'm looking for dark and moody pen and ink renderings.  If they come out well it should be one hell of a reading adventure!

There's some editing to be done---and the artwork yet to come.  But I thought maybe you'd be interesting in seeing what's being stewing around in my head lately.  So without fanfare, here you are . . .

August. 1873.  New York City.

            The hottest time of the year to be in the city.  Especially this part of the city.  The inhabitants called it The Bowery.  The southern portion of the city filled with the poor and the final destination for the ever increasing masses of freshly arriving immigrants swarming daily through Ellis Island and flooding into the city.

            The Bowery was filled with Irish, Italian, and German immigrants.  A Tower of Babel environment of the poor and penniless. Because they were the poor and disenfranchised it meant few in Tammany Hall, the city's political center, thought of them.  Which meant this part of the city had little sanitation.  No running water.  And no effort to collect and wheel away the growing piles of refuse which littered the streets everywhere.           

            Underneath the hot August sun the aroma rising into the cloudless sky was an almost visible miasma of stench.  So no one paid attention to the black leather and brass trimmed two wheeled hansom, pulled by a dapple gray mare, trotting smartly down the brick street and rolling to a halt in front of tenement building.  To the ten boys standing on the sidewalk or sitting on the steps leading up to the tenement's entrance, the hansom, nor the heavy sat, jowly cabbie sitting above and behind the enclosed portion of the hansom meant anything to them.  Dressed in shabby, thread bare castoffs, with faces sooty black from all the coal dust floating in the air, the boys tossed a baseball around or smoked cigarettes and talked but didn't glance at the hansom again.

            Until the passenger stepped out and onto the curb.

            He was a compact little man with a thick mop of curly blond hair.  Dressed nattily in a three piece suit of startling white cotton.   He had on black spats partially covering the upper portion of his highly polished leather shoes.  Very expensive leather shoes.  In hand was a pair of kid gloves he held casually.  In the other a black ebony cane with an odd looking bezel cut glass orb ornamenting its top.  One eye held a large monocle in front of it with a black lanyard dropping down and looping over to one his coat's lapels.  Instead of a tie he had a mauve colored kerchief tide around his neck and stuffed inside his shirt.  The shirt was off white, made of silk, with gold cuff links.

            He was the grandest looking thing the boys had ever had the privileged be this close to in their young lives.  All of them stood looking at the dandy with mouths open and eyes wide.  When the man stepped onto the sidewalk in front of them and extended the hand holding the cane out to brace himself in a gesture of arrogant nonchalance a few of them actually thought about applauding.

            "Hey, boyo!" a voice came flying out of the air from one of the boys standing on the stairs.  "Ya got a dollar or two you can spare?  Me and the boys haven't had a drink in days."

            The man, lowering his eyes for the first time to gaze at the objects in front of him, eyed the waifs for a moment before making a decision.  Turning slightly he tossed the expensive leather gloves into the hansom and then reached inside a vest pocket and pulled out a ten dollar gold piece.  With a skillful flick of a thumb the coin went arching over the heads of the nearest and straight to the Irish lad who had just spoken.

            "My good men," the dandy said, smiling wider after seeing the big Irish kid snatch the coin out of the air with and stare at it incredulously.  "Perhaps that will procure me some needed intelligence."

            "Huh?" another voice, a younger one, piped up quizzically.  "We ain't smart, fella.  We're Irish."

            "Awh, pipe down, Ian!" the bigger kid in the back barked, shaking his head disgustedly.  "The fella's looking for some information.  Who you looking for, fella?"

            The dandy cradled the odd looking black cane in the crook of one arm but didn't answer immediately.  Glancing to his right his eyes swept across the wide expanse of the Hudson river, noted the three fat looking tugboats chugging their way up stream, laying down heavy curtains of sooty smoke in the process.  A quarter of a mile downstream he saw the massive stone monuments of what would be, a few years from now, the freshly completed Brooklyn Bridge rising up out of the river waters.  But today the construction was still in its early stages.  The river site for the two massive edifices surrounded by steamers and wide barges riding low in the river due to their heavy loads.

            Most impressive, he thought to himself.  Most impressive indeed!  The last time he had been in New York the Dutch were still negotiating with the local Indian tribes for additional land.  But now, now humans were building a megalopolis!  They were constructing in stone and steel!  Using steam power instead of muscle power to do their heavy work.

            Progress, by god!  That's what it was.  Progress!

            Maybe the Elders of the Eight Clans were right.  Maybe humans in this dimension did have a future ahead of them.  Breaking into a rakish dimpled grin he turned his attention back to the big Irish kid who seemed to be the group's natural leader.

            "I am looking for a large framed gentlemen by the name of Mordecai Bloom.  Does he live in this building?"

            "Who?" another dirty faced waif blurted out, lifting a hand and scratching his head.  "Ain't never heard of'em."

            "He means The Mad Hatter," the Irish spokesman said, shaking his head irritably as he lifted a thumb up and pointed to the building behind him.  "You know, the fat guy with the funny hair and the bug eyes.  Yeah, fella.  He lives up on the sixth floor.  Apartment 61."

            He started to thank the Irish lad but a flash of bright bluish-white light above caught his attention just before an ear splitting explosion ripped through the late afternoon heat.  Glass, wood, pieces of furniture, and shreds of ripped clothing were ejected violently out of what once had been a sixth floor window.  The thundering explosion reverberated across the river, sending up a curtain of pigeons which had been nesting on the building's roof, as the flotsam and dendrites of what once had been the furnishings for an apartment rained down upon them.

            The moment the explosion announced itself the boys in front of the dandy ducked, covered their heads, and fled all in one motion.  Seconds later the tenants within the building came screaming in terror out of the building and began running as well.

            Through the pandemonium of fleeing tenants the dandy fought his way up the stairs and into the building.  Eyeing a steep set of wooden stairs leading up to the next floor he began taking two steps at a time as he dodged around descending, screaming residents.

            Billowing gray black smoke began filling the third and forth floor stairwell.  The unmistakable crackle of flames about to turn into an out of control inferno emanated from above.  Nevertheless the well dressed stranger continued this assent as fast as his legs could move.  By time he reached the fourth floor the occupants of the building had fled.  On the fifth floor he stopped suddenly in his tracks, turned, and stared down the long narrow hallway toward the far end apartment.

            He felt her aura.  Felt her pain.  Lifting the cane in his hand up the blue tinted glass orb adorning it began to glow white and expand outward in a translucent white bubble.  In the direct center of the orb an image snapped into reality.   The image of an old woman, well into her sixties, hobbling toward the apartment door on crutches.  One of her legs was missing.  She was racked with pain.  With panic.  Desperate to get out of the burning building.  Watching her arthritic old hands trying to clasp the doorknob to her apartment door he knew she would never make it.  Above the top floor was a hungry conflagration teetering on the edge of sweeping through the entire building and consuming everything in its path.  If the fire could not be extinguished immediately the woman would have no chance for survival.

            Resisting his first urge to rush to her and use a little magic to whisk her away from danger instead he leapt forward and began charging up into the roaring flames above.   Throwing an arm across his face to ward off the incredible heat he moved into the middle of the sixth floor hallway and assessed the situation.   Flames were everywhere.  Howling jets of fire were bellowing out of apartment doors.  A rolling carpet of bubbling flames danced across the hallway's ceiling.  Glass from window panes were violently shattering out into the street below like shotgun blasts in six or seven different apartments.  The scorching heat was hot enough to make his own clothing begin to emit curling trails of smoke from his jacket's arms and cuffs.   Seconds, that's all he had.  Just seconds before the fire was out of control. 

            A mask of determination settled across his youthful, handsome face.  No one was going to die today.  No one.  Gripping the cane in hand he lifted it up and then brought the gold tip of the staff down hard on the wooden floor of the hall.

            "Extinguishio Finalis!" he exclaimed with a harsh voice of authority.

            Something amazing transpired immediately.

            A shock wave, powerful and devastating, of frigid cold air filled with a fine mist of water, expanded out exponentially from the glass orb of his cane and swept forward and backwards from his position.  Apartment doors were blown open and ripped from the hinges.  Individual pieces of hardwood flooring in the hallway peeled off the floor as if they were nothing but cheap cardboard slats.  So cold the blast not only extinguished the flames at the snap of one's fingers but a fine layer of frost covered the walls, ceiling, and the flooring of the hallway.

            Fire no longer ravaged the building.  Replacing the hungry consumption of a ravaging beast an unearthly, even eerie, silence settled into the building's interior.

Slowly he around in the hallway and gazed toward one blackened gaping hole that once had been a furnished apartment.  Mordecai Bloom's apartment.

            He found himself staring at the devastated apartment but reluctant to move toward it.  The cane in his right hand was irritably tapping the floor with a nervous staccato twitch.  He knew he had to investigate.  It was his job.  He was a Inter-Dimensional Magician's Bureau field agent, for the Love of Diddly!  But he didn't want to.  Didn't want to face the possibility of finding the charred, blackened body of one of his oldest friends lying in the consumed ruins.  Nevertheless, rubbing a hand across his lips in anticipation of finding the worse, he took a deep breath, forced his mind to clear the dreadful images filling it and ordered his feet to move.

            And that's when he saw it.  Saw the faint mist of green dust hanging in the doorway of the Mordecai Bloom's doorway and an even fainter trail of tracker-dust  floating in the cold but motionless air in an unbroken trail all the way down the length of the hallway itself!

            Mordecai Bloom was alive!  Alive!

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