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September 11, 2014

Meet the Sunken – another excerpt from my new steampunk novel

Metalheads Who Read, Steff, Writing Runes

Steampunk dinosaur, by Van Oos (DailySteampunk.com).
Steampunk dinosaur, by Van Oos (DailySteampunk.com).

Steampunk dinosaur, by Van Oos (DailySteampunk.com).

The Sunken comes out tomorrow! I am pretty excited, in case you can’t tell!

Spread the word, tell your friends,

Here’s a new excerpt from the book, which you can Per-order NOW from Amazon.

In this excerpt, you get to meet the Sunken themselves.

***

The Sunken - S C GreenThey passed through a series of ornate receiving rooms, and at last Maxwell pulled back a velvet curtain to reveal a long, narrow corridor. Horrible sounds issued from within — unsavoury creatures demanding to be freed.

Before Brigitte could protest, he grabbed her arm and yanked her inside. As her eyes adjusted to the gloom, she saw the corridor was boarded on both sides with rows of thick, barred doors. From behind each door, something howled and pounded and screeched.

“What are they?” she breathed.

“Look for yourself.”

Handing her his lantern, he cupped his hands and she stood on them, and he lifted her up ‘till she was eye level with the thin slit at the top of the door. She stared down into a cell, resting the lantern on the ledge and directing the light downward. She gasped at the full magnitude of what presented itself.

It was a man. At least, it had once been a man. Now it circled and snarled and hissed like a monster, crawling on all fours in an ocean of its own foulness. Filth and blood caked the walls, and as she watched, paralysed in terror, it reared up toward her, screaming as it clawed at the door in its desperation to reach her. Blood flowed from its cracked fingernails, and it snapped and gashed its burnt, blackened teeth.

It was naked, save the blisters and burns that caked every inch of its body, and the strange metal protrusions which glowed through its cracked skin.

It lunged for her again, clawing at the door just below the slit. She screamed in terror and jerked back, losing her balance and toppling to the ground. Maxwell bent down to pick her up, steadying her with his good hand as she tried to stop shaking.

“What are they?”

“I call them the Sunken, but they were like us once. Gardeners, servants, women of the night. That one down here—”, he pointed at the door, “was the ambassador of China. Now they are monsters.”

“But — how?

“The King, Miss Brigitte. They enter his private chambers as humans, and they emerge … as these — these aberrations! They crave anything made of blood or lead. He feeds them lumps of heated metal that scorch their skin and burn their insides, but they do not care. The more they consume the stronger and less human they become. The King calls them his lead children. And his lust grows stronger. Night after night he calls for more, more blood, more lead.” He hung his head. “I have found women in the village for him … I have done horrible things ….”

“But tonight you saved me.”

“Yes, one life I have saved,” Maxwell said, letting out a wretched sigh, “for all those I’ve helped ruin. For the ruin I’ve done to myself.”

“Maxwell, no—”

He lifted his cast off his shoulder and unwound the bandages. When Brigitte saw what had become of the bite, her stomach turned.

His arm was completely black. The skin was no longer soft, but burnt and flaking away in crispy chunks. Miss Julie’s careful stitches had been ripped out, and the hole stuffed with balls of lead, the leathery, blackened skin growing over the top of them, sealing them inside his body. She covered her mouth, struggling to keep back the bile rising in her throat.

“The King’s Physician,” he said, giving a wan smile. “He fixed me up good and proper.”

“Maxwell, no.” Tears steamed down her cheeks. She reached out a shaking hand to touch the protrusion, but he slapped her away.

“Tis fitting, Miss Brigitte. For my crimes.”

“You weren’t to know, Maxwell.” She touched his shoulder. “Can we help them?”

“These … they are beyond help. They will gnaw their own arms off to taste the blood again. They are never full, never sated. The King has more such chambers, and every week the dungeon swells with more of their number. Soon, there will be no one left in Windsor Castle who does not crave the taste of metal or the blood of the living.”

“And you, Maxwell?”

He laughed bitterly. “Do not fear for me, Miss Brigitte. You have done me kindness enough.”

“I can’t just do nothing!”

“You must go to your man, Miss Brigitte — your handsome gentleman who writes the notes. You must go away with him, far away from the castle, and never return. If the King lays eyes on you, young and pretty and trembling in fear, I will find you locked away in one of these rooms, and that is more than I can bear.”

“But Miss Julie, and Cassandra and … and you? What will become of you, Maxwell? I cannot leave the castle without you.”

“I will help them. I will try … but your man, he will know what to do.” Maxwell said. “I’ve seen him with the engineer, Brunel. An important man is Brunel. The King trusts him, but Brunel has power over him. Brunel has been in secret to the King’s chambers, late at night, many times, but he has not become one of the Sunken. And whenever he leaves the castle, the King is silent. He does not seek the blood. He sleeps. It is the only time he sleeps.”

“I can’t leave!”

“You must. Immediately. Tonight. Before he calls for you again.”

***

Want to know what happens next? Well, you’re going to have to read the book to find out! Buy The Sunken (Engine Ward Book 1) from Amazon.

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