Tag Archives: Brass Automaton
Novella – 29,000 words – approx. 164 pages.
Terminator meets Snow White in a steampunk adventure through time.
“This story happened when His Majesty was still a young man, a huntsman to be precise. It is the tale of a clockwork machine from the future, with a mission to terminate His Majesty to prevent him from meeting his future queen.” Jarvis paused for effect. “Then, she was known only as Snow White.”
* * *
The castle was busy with preparations of some sorts. It was loud and there were fanfares somewhere in the distance.
“My Queen, have you been training again? Look at your beautiful face, all bruised and bloodied.”
Snow turned around to meet Daisy. She was dressed in an elegant dress and her fiery hair longer than she remembered it.
“Well who else my Queen?” Daisy smiled and took Snow’s hand in hers, leading her away.
“I shall send for someone to clean the destruction from your target practice.”
“Isn’t that Jarvis’s chambers?”
Daisy stopped and looked at Snow concerned.
“Who is Jarvis, my Queen?”
“He’s-” Snow began to say, but the realization came to her. There was no Jarvis.
“Are you quite all right, Snow White?”
Snow smiled, flinching at the pain.
“I think I am.”
“Come then, Good King John is waiting for you. I have been telling off children again for calling him Good John the Cripple, but they find it fitting and King John doesn’t seem to mind it. He thinks the name would sit well on the books.”
“Cripple?” Snow asked carefully as they walked down the spiral staircase.
“Mmh. From the hunting accident few years back. Did you bang your head that hard?”
Snow shook her head.
“No, just checking all… as it should be, I suppose.”
Nothing good comes without a price, Snow thought. Then her heart hammered with worry in her chest.
“And Reese, is Reese here?”
Daisy stopped in her tracks. “It is today, isn’t it, the anniversary of her death?”
She turned around.
“My apologies Queen White. I question you too much without realizing how you must be feeling on this day.”
Snow allowed the tears to run down her cheeks this time.
“It’s all right Daisy. Lead me to my husband now.”
Indeed, no victory came without a bitter price. The kingdom was safe, but Snow’s soul was yet to heal. Seeing John smirk and shake his crowned head at the sight of her, she knew it would take time, but Time was all they had now.
Here is the penultimate chapter at 790 words:
* * *
Ceridwen’s spontaneous laughter broke Snow from her memory trip.
“See, you won over me many times, Snow. You destroyed my pride, my power. I hid because I couldn’t stand seeing you still so beautiful and myself so ugly. Then Jarvis found me again and offered me one last chance to kill you. What I didn’t know was that it would cost me my body and replace it with this one. It is repulsive but unstoppable.”
Ceridwen leaned forward in a puff of steam her hands ready to grab.
“We shall see about that,” Snow said and swung her sword.
The tip of the sword scraped Ceridwen’s chest, but her hand gave Snow a powerful push, and she fell against the wall, dropping the sword. Dizzy, she reached for her weapon, but Ceridwen had grabbed her ankles and dragged her across the room.
Snow jumped to her feet sprightly and lurched at Ceridwen with a battle cry. The Automaton Queen swung her fists at Snow’s face, but she dodged them and swiftly grabbed the raised hand plucking out pipes which released clouds of steam, and the hand dropped detached, swinging without purpose.
Ceridwen cried out and clawed at Snow’s face with her only hand, but the White Queen was fast. Seizing the moment Snow grabbed the other hand and did the same to it, leaving it to loll beside the Automaton’s body.
She pushed past the Brass Woman, sliding towards her sword. Once in her hand, Snow turned back to the advancing monster.
“Jarvis, do something!” Ceridwen screamed, and the cowering warlock was hiding behind his throne and observing the battle. He stood tall, pointing his staff towards Snow. He cast spells, murmuring incoherent words through clasped lips. The staff belched fireballs which Snow escaped narrowly. Spotting the glass fragments which Jarvis held in his other hand, Snow devised an immediate plan. Ceridwen was slowed, and she fought the steam clouds still streaming from her limp limbs.
Snow turned her attention towards Jarvis. Her eyes, aflame with anger and pain frightened him; she was determined to end them both. As he prepared another chant, Snow stepped quickly as her huntsman husband had taught her and sliced the staff in its midst. An ordinary piece of wood remained in Jarvis’s hand.
“Your days of dominance are over traitor.”
Her sword pierced his chest. Thrusting the body forward, Snow drove him into the portal, unsheathing her sword from the body as it dropped freely. The Mirror’s shards fell from his flying hands and floated in the in-between space. Attracted by the forces of Time, the weak Magick drove itself into the body of the warlock who had created it, sucking into his remaining power. Jarvis gasped one last time as the sharp shards pierced his body and his face.
Snow watched them shatter as the body did the same, dispersing into Time to never exist again. The portal collapsed on itself, time looping around, till the gateway was closed. Snow stared at the rubble, her only escape.
* * *
Snow rode Cloud Dancer as fast as the animal could do. He stopped abruptly at the same spot where Sky had picked him up.
“Only this far?”
Snow hopped down and took her sword from the satchel. She gave the horse a brief tap and watched him disappear into the forest.
She walked with caution looking for signs of lurking Tenyks or steaming Automation, but nature was quiet. Snow realized she couldn’t hear any birds chirping, and her old familiar path seemed less lavish than she remembered it.
She passed a grave marked by sticks and rocks. One of the dwarfs must have made the little gravestone, but it was beautiful craftsmanship bearing the dwarven sigils of honor. It had just a name engraved – “Tobias”.
Snow walked along. When she reached the spot and knew no danger lurked here, she called at the dwarves.
“King Odc? Pelyse?”
When she heard none back, Snow traversed further into the deep of Rennoc Woods where no light shone through the thick crowds of high trees. She saw them at the foot of the active portal, a round structure swirling in a red vapor and spitting demonic hisses. Their beards and boots and belts had turned to stone – arms outstretched, mouths shouting, sword thrusting – the last image of their death was imprinted forever in stone. Despite their arguments Snow had much respect for the merry bunch. She may have been the Queen of the Meadows, but Odc had been the King of the forest for centuries. She placed a kiss upon her fingers and delivered it to Odc’s cheek.
“Sleep well guardians of Time and Magick.”
Before the portal still wrapped in its outstretching tendrils lay the Automaton. Snow looked down upon a younger Sky’s face, but when she kneeled to close its eyes the Magick faded away and an old woman, small and dry of age was held tightly in the brass prison. Repulsed, Snow pulled back.
She stepped over the prostrated body and sword at the ready with no hesitation to waste; she stepped into the portal.
* * *
The portal illuminated and startled both Jarvis and Ceridwen. Jarvis ran for his staff and held it carefully, pointing it toward the portal.
“Here she comes,” Ceridwen purred, steam rising above her head.
* * *
Snow felt torn apart as she cascaded through the portal. Time pulled her in all directions, stretching her skin and her limbs to excruciating pain. She had only to focus on where Brass Ceridwen was and as soon as she did the portal at the end of this tunnel illuminated correspondingly.
Here’s another 886 words for Brass Automaton:
* * *
It took John hours or days to pull his body up the stairs to his chambers. He couldn’t quite tell because there were times when he seemingly awoke prostrated on the stairs and began his ascent once again. He thought about Snow in the aggravating minutes before each struggle for the next curving stair. Had she looked for him in the ruins of her kingdom, their kingdom? Did she think him dead, or still subjected to Ceridwen’s manipulations?
It was dark when John reached his chambers. The room was cold and unlit, but still John could see the tiny glass fragment under his bed. He crawled for it, praying it would still work even after the magic that held him seeped from the smooth surface and dissipated in the air. Finally after clawing at the narrow space like mad, John clasped his fingers against the mirror piece.
Putting it to his lips he murmured a wish, favor, a single glimpse, the last chance. Hesitantly, the mirror brightened and John exclaimed, tears pooling in his bloodshot eyes.
“It is now or never my love, now or never to save us all.”
* * *
As soon as Sky reached Oossah and the castle loomed over her, dark and unwelcoming still, she knew the darkest hour had come. Climbing off Cloud Dancer she caressed his mane, coloring it red for her hand was stained with the blood of her wounds. She bid him a true farewell and paced herself the way a warrior would do arriving at long last home and not long now to her dearest. Sky smiled at the thought she would soon see Reese.
* * *
Snow was standing before the brass throne studying it with disgust. There was a time when she had sat on that damned thing, proud and happy, listening for the whistle of the steam. John was beside her, a loving man with a handsome face, and little Reese ran freely, climbing on her father’s lap and stealing his crown. John’s throne had been torn down, for Ceridwen imagined herself to be the only ruler. Now neither of them possessed that title – one, a middle-aged woman pitying the dead while smeared with their blood and the other, a cowardly witch spitting her venom still.
“My Queen Snow,” came a sturdy call.
Snow turned with a smile, but upon witnessing Sky’s state it faded away. She ran down the steps and took hold of Sky just as the other woman rolled on her feet. Snow sat them both down, beside the rubble and the quiet.
“It’s just Snow, remember?”
Sky nodded and said, “It is done. The Automaton is steaming no more and the Dwarven king asks for you. You were right, though, you were so very right Snow.”
Sky locked her swimming gaze with Snow’s inflating brown eyes.
“There was a girl inside that thing. I think I knew her well, or may have known her once upon a time.”
* * *
“In this, I did fail you.”
Jarvis put his staff away and clasping his hands behind his back, walked in wide circles around Ceridwen.
“Snow once told you, I know as I saw it in my mirror “Her Magick has, and shall, become so dark it mocks the prohibitions of Time itself.”
“It bothered me for many nights how Snow would know to say that. Could it be that she chanced upon a guess? Is she that clever, Ceridwen? I think not, for such words don’t cross people’s minds without a happening.”
“A happening?” Ceridwen asked.
Jarvis slowly nodded. “An intrusion. She would know them because she would hear them from me, and that inevitably is the burden you’ve bestowed upon me Ceridwen. I see that now, but no matter my faulty, you are the reason of Snow’s triumph. You have goodness in your heart!”
“No!” Ceridwen screamed backing away from the advancing warlock.
“You feel compassion!” Jarvis spat at her.
“I would rather die!”
“Never!” Ceridwen yelled, the steam clouding her eyes, beaming her illuminating eyes at Jarvis, who shook at the sight of the augmented woman.
“And yet, unpredictable a part of you was all of the above. You, my Queen inevitably led Snow to your destruction. Look into that mirror and see your hands helping the Queen win!”
Ceridwen grabbed a hold of the oak staff and swung it against the mirror. The shattering was thunderous, and it stopped both Ceridwen and Jarvis to their knees. Jarvis covered his ears as the Echoes of Time cried in a deafening discord. Flying glass cut his wrists and face, and he curled into a ball. The room was lit by crimson light. Ceridwen remembered seeing it somewhere. She remembered holding a brass sphere in her hand and offering it to the gaping red mouth of a swirling newborn portal. The tendrils protruding from the Mirror licked her face, and it burned the brass, but she couldn’t feel any pain, not physical. It was after all just her armor.