Some excuses, some showing off, and some lovely things to gaze at

Hello my delicious friends!

First of all, I must apologise for my absence so soon after the creation of this blog. I set it up, made my first post and suddenly life was all up in the air! I have been very busy indeed lately, although it’s all very exciting!

As some people know, when events are coming up, I basically live for my costumes, and work day and night to get them finished. Old habits die hard, so as always, I’ve had a couple of all-nighters.

First of all, I have been to two comic cons back to back in February and March, for the first I was all busy making an 1880’s style bustle gown based on the main character of my novel, Cybelle DeHamphir, and using one of my favourite patterns which I had finally gotten my mitts on, Simplicity 5457. I wore this to MCM Midlands at the International Centre Telford, and for an original character, it got lots of attention, which was a nice surprise! It was also my little brother’s first comic con, so I was showing him the ropes and introducing him to the wonderful world of nerd-dom! We had a lot of fun, and as I am rather proud of it, I’ll show you the dress. It’s very steampunk gothic friendly, I love the fabric (even if it was a pain)!

For the second convention, following MCM to Birmingham NEC, I got to meet up with a whole bunch of my Assassin’s Creed brothers and sisters! As most of my pictures feature the group, I won’t post many as I would need both theirs and the photographer’s permissions, but I will show you what I looked like as Evie Frye, my all time favourite game character! I LOVED working on this costume, but then, I always love costuming characters I love and admire…which is why I always find myself going back to Miss Frye for cosplay. I am also extremely surprised and happy to announce that I won a runner up prize in the cosplay masquerade, and was presented with a trophy and £75 worth of craft vouchers! I now have an ungodly amount of sewing patterns!

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Two days before comic con, I also got to visit the sewing show that was going on at the NEC at the same time. Again I came away with a lot of sewing patterns (corsets and 50’s swing dresses, I can’t help myself) and some new projects. I also got to see some absolutely gorgeous period costumes on display.

Finally and most importantly (and also the main reason I have been away, as I have had to make my portfolio a main priority), I had an interview for my first choice university….AND GOT IN! I’m so so happy, and I can’t wait. So in September, I officially start studying my degree in costume design and practice! I can’t tell you how excited I am, it’s one step closer to a dream of mine!

So, as you can imagine, it has been a mental couple of months. However, fret not! I am back and my next blog post is in progress! The next one will be on a subject I get asked about a great deal in steampunk/alternative circles, so I hope my advice will be useful. I have a few things coming up, and lots of events and days planned over summer, so I’ll be posting as frequently as possible, and I’ll try to keep them a little more useful than today’s.

I am having a little trouble deciding on subjects for my posts though, so any requests or ideas would be most welcome. Also naturally, I will try to keep you up to date on my continuing quest to become a professional costumier! I hope it might give inspiration, motivation or enjoyment to someone out there with similar dreams.

Au revoir for now!

 

Love and Tea,

I. I. Laverick

Dead Night novel extract (Chapter 3)

Salutations.

So this is a slight break from my usual blog posts, but recently on my Facebook page, my novel page for Dead Night has received over 100 likes! To celebrate this milestone, I let readers vote on a full chapter to be released from the new version of the book. The winner was Chapter 3, “A Curious Request”.

Just a little disclaimer before I get on with it, this is not the final version of the chapter. It has just gone through my main edit phase, which is just before I send it away to beta readers. The final version may have slight differences, and I apologise if there are any lingering flaws that we haven’t dealt with yet. In fact, if you spot any, feel free to let me know with a friendly comment, it all helps me to make Dead Night a better book! 🙂

Thank you to everyone who voted, everyone who liked the page and all who have supported my crazy literary habits thus far, you are all brilliant!

So, the story so far:

Cybelle DeHamphir, Vampire and Assassin, has just returned to the Assassin’s Guild after an extended period of enforced leave. The death of her close friend and colleague, Theo VanKastle still weighs heavily on her shoulders, but things seem to be getting slowly better now that she can keep busy…though the rest of the guild have a cautious eye on her. Things start to take a strange turn as she happens across someone unusual in Fleet Street, wealthy aristocrat Ava Chimera, and she appears to be troubled…or running from something. She refuses to give any information though, so Cybelle is forced to let her go empty handed.

Not long later, she finds out that her good friend and colleague Avangelene has been looking for her, and by a note left on her doorstep, with good reason. It’s unusual to be summoned back to the Guild so early in the day, and that can only mean trouble…

So without further delay: Dead Night, Chapter 3

“A Curious Request”

Where I didn’t believe in jumping to conclusions, Avangelene’s note was enough to convince me that I wouldn’t like what I would find when I got back to the Guild. I was even sure her being absent from the place was on purpose. So, I decided I was always better safe than sorry, and went to retrieve my most prized swords from upstairs.

The katanas had come into my possession during the brief years I had been running amok in Japan. I liked to call them Scylla and Charybdis, after the legend, since we have this silly tradition about naming our weapons. The two evils, one to kill Vampires, one for Shifters…for when the rapier was just a little too mundane.

They were a little more difficult to hide, but with a longer cape and my specially designed holster, I managed it just fine, and went on my way.

I tried in vain not to let the huge gates clang loudly as I shut them carefully behind me. I had to remove a great deal of the tangled sheet of ivy, in order to get a firm grip on the iron bars.

I caught a glimpse of myself in a shop window as I turned, perfectly disguised.

The streets were still buzzing with life as always, and they would be far after the carriages had reached all their destinations, the pedestrians safe in their houses for afternoon tea. The sky would be darkening soon with the early winter night, and the old lamplighter would emerge from his little house on the corner of the street, and begin to light the gaslights that dotted the twists and turns of the London landscape. I could just spot him actually, locking his door, adjusting the battered hat upon his head, about to make a very early start on immense amount work which lay before him as every night passed.

I slipped unnoticed into the crowd, something I’d had good practice in. I walked the route I had trodden a million times before, although more often at night than in such light. The crowd thinned out gradually as I walked further, soon enough coming to a small, narrow alley that most people were too cautious to go down if they knew it existed; excluding of course, a few desperate beggars, a couple of brave or dim-witted drunks and the odd prostitute. I however feared nothing at all of what may be found at the other end.

Not far from here was my second home, and my little secret, though admittedly not my darkest. I always had to be discreet; slipping around the corner when nobody was looking in my direction. But a shadow, just as things should be.

I was little more than a few minutes’ walk from my destination when a man in ragged clothes approached cautiously, shuffling or limping slightly as if an injury had been inflicted to his left foot, which was neither surprising nor reassuring.

He held out a battered hat hopefully to me as our paths crossed. “Ye looks like a wealthy young lady. Pretty face.” He spoke with less fear than I’d first anticipated, and I could smell the stale, potent stench of ale mixed with tobacco on his breath, even from this distance.

I glanced at his tell-tale eyes and braced myself. Every teacher who had ever taught me to fight had said the same thing: the sword will lie but the eyes cannot. Besides that, from my own extensive experience, I had found that one could never trust a man who smelled of ale.

“Couldn’t spare a little change for a humble old man like meself?” He added after a brief moment, seemingly gaining foolish courage by the second.

Yes…I knew his sort very well, and as much of an annoyance as he was, the combat exercise wouldn’t be unwelcome. He was less a worthy opponent than a pitiful insect in my path, but all the same.

I had the element of surprise, so I decided to use it. I pulled my best disgusted scowl and began to stride off. As I had suspected, the vagrant quickly caught up with me and pressed a small, filthy looking blade to my neck, urging me not to go any further. I stopped abruptly, and strained not to raise an eyebrow in response. Is that really the best a robber can do nowadays? Not even the slightest bit of effort!

“That’s a pretty jewel yer wearing miss.” He commented, obviously admiring his own bravery at this point and clearly eyeing up the silver, tiger lily shaped pendant which hung around my neck. It was hardly something worth surrendering into the filthy hands of an amateur human footpad!

I had already calculated his weak point. Having tired of humouring the pitiful creature, I promptly kicked him in the shin with the heel of my boot, and twisted his wrist until it snapped and he dropped the knife. He staggered backwards, cursing and howling in pain, and I gave a final kick to the knee for good measure. One broken leg, one dislocated knee, one fractured wrist. He wasn’t going anywhere fast.

Drained of his former courage, my assailant scrambled backwards to the wall, almost crawling from his injuries, helpless as a sewer rat cornered by a cat. To drive home my point, I threw back my cloak and unsheathed one of the katanas with a satisfying metallic slide, and smiled as I held it to his own throat.

“If you’re quite finished admiring my jewellery.” I said calmly, and pressed the katana just enough to cause a thin trickle of blood to roll down his neck, “I would rather not soil this perfectly good blade on you, dear sir, so I believe it would be in your best interests to take advantage of the single chance I am about to give you.”

I removed the blade just enough for him to stagger off, not even hazarding a glance over his shoulder as he half ran, half crawled out of sight.

I could have killed him, this city would pay no mind to a fresh corpse in the Thames in the dead of night, but it really wasn’t worth my time. Not when the promises of a more interesting opponent lay in wait at the Guild.

Pathetic I thought, replacing the sword and brushing off my cloak, absolutely pathetic.

Putting my mind back on my destination, I walked purposefully down the now deserted street and towards the familiar, gigantic Guild house. I turned to the back entrance, deciding to check that the horse I had procured the previous night was making itself at home. Besides which, it was further from the foyer, whose bare windows looked out on the street, and as much as the Shield and Cloaker spells kept our secret safe, my mind was easily put on edge. Use of the room had been banned after a short conference on the matter, and Miss Bennett trying out her new explosive recipes in there last week, burning the contents to a crisp. We have had bigger fish to fry recently than redecorating.

To my surprise, I found Emmett by the stables tending to the horses. The mare I had brought home the previous night seemed to be getting acquainted with her new neighbours. Avangelene’s hot tempered Josephine appeared to be sizing her up whilst Lizzie’s pretty white mare, Margot was warming up to her, most likely because Emmett kept feeding them over the fence. Emma kept a handsome young stallion called Bo, who was currently ignoring the whole affair in favour of running length after length of the field with his usual endless energy.

Emmett spotted me after a minute or so and waved me over with a smile (at which point Margot took the opportunity to steal a carrot directly from his pocket). It was odd to see him this content, he had been either infuriating or troubled since my return…in fact, he had been a little off for some time before my departure. He even stopped spending time with the animals for a while, which was rather out of character.

“You left your friend.” He said smiling slightly and stroking the black horse’s nose, feeding her another carrot, “You didn’t tell me about her. She’s eating the others out of food; poor Josephine isn’t taking too kindly to it at all.”

I forgot my purposeful attitude for a moment and walked over to greet the new horse with a sugar cube, offering one to Margot when she appeared to get jealous of the attention. Josephene crept closer at the introduction of sugar.

“I know, she seems to have stuck.” I admitted, “I did need a new mount though after…”

He gave an understanding nod but didn’t pursue that subject any further. “There’s room here at the Guild for her.” He said brightly, “And she’s certainly fit for your work. What’s her name?”

I hadn’t thought about that…my priorities had really been elsewhere. “Perhaps…Rosetta.” I decided after a few moments of thought. It was pretty, and reminded me of another unfortunate who had found themselves at the Assassin’s Guild.

Emmett smiled, giving her a last carrot and murmuring, “There’s a girl, Rosetta.” He turned and gestured to the door, “Anyway, I believe you and I have business to attend to. Shall we?”

“Ah, yes…that.” I realised that I had momentarily forgotten why I was even here, very unprofessional. “Avangelene left me a message that you were looking for me. May I ask what is so concerning that I am requested early?” I also wondered what had taken her so long, seeing as Emmett seemed to still be in one piece and oblivious of his irritated sister’s intentions for him.

“I did ask after you.” He began, taking a moment to consider how was best to word it, “The good news is that we have a job. Under what circumstances though, I don’t know.” He paused at this, and with a wary glance at the door lowered his voice before continuing, “I don’t trust this client if I’m honest with you, something about him just doesn’t sit right.”

Admittedly, his level of concern threw me, but I calmly raised one eyebrow at him with my best sceptical glance and muttered, “When does it ever?”

He only frowned back, seeming unconvinced, but opened the door and let me inside. He immediately proceeded to bolt it behind us in the usual overly defensive fashion.

I walked to the grand hall and glanced around, expecting to see the not uncommon sight of a shady looking figure waiting for us. I was greeted with something else entirely.

“Cybelle!” Called a voice, instantly recognisable.

“Verity?” I replied, smiling a little when I noticed her emerge from the kitchens, the almost always present cup of tea in her hand. Verity was a tall, sharp woman, plenty older than any of the Guild but with the physical appearance of one who had not aged a day over forty five. She always presented herself pristinely, her jet black hair pulled back into a severe bun, not a crease in her dark silk mourning gowns. In fact she had barely any colour to her but for a pair of piercing blue eyes.

Even to one without knowledge of her power, Verity could easily be a very intimidating presence. Older Witches, especially Fey Witches, had that way about them, but Verity was particularly imposing in the wrong company. I, however, could only ever be glad to see her, though I was used to her, she had raised me after all.

She sipped delicately at her tea and gave a rare smile, “I’m glad to see you feeling better, my dear.” She said, “I have not seen you in so long.”

I felt a small pang of guilt at that, though it had been a conscious decision. Verity was busy, and in a business more dangerous than my own; she had enough to worry about with her work in the London Senate and Joint Night Council. Besides, I could hardly bear to have let her see me in such a state…

“Thank you.” I replied, “Though I’m just glad to see things back to normal again…almost.”

For a moment, Verity’s eyes drifted from mine, glancing in the vague direction of a portrait on the wall. It was one of the Guild around two years ago. “Yes…” She murmured thoughtfully, “One must move with the times, as they say. The past is the past.”

“Of course.” I agreed, and shrugged it off.

“Anyway, as I said, we have business to deal with.” Emmett piped up eventually, sensing the awkward pause.

“Yes, yes, of course.” Verity nodded and gestured to the main office. It occurred to me all of a sudden that there was something troubled about her expression. She was a master of hiding it, but I knew her well enough to recognise the slight wariness in her eyes, the way she tapped one long fingernail against the china teacup with a steady rhythm.

As Emmett entered the office, I turned back and frowned at her, but she promptly stopped tapping and looked calmly back, simply waiting for me to follow my colleague.

Something was certainly afoot, and it was not going to be good. Not if it had Verity on edge.

As I walked into the Guild’s office, messy as usual and strewn with used teacups and unimportant documents, a figure rose from his seat and gave a small bow of his head in greeting. He was a very…striking gentleman, pale, clean shaven, slicked back black hair as dark as mine or Verity’s. He had that confident stature, icy eyes and silent way about him that immediately struck me as a Vampire, and a noble one at that, judging by his fine tailored suit and red silk waistcoat. A gold double albert watch chain glinted under his jacket.

In some strange way, he looked almost familiar, but I did not think much of it. I had met many Vampires in my time, and did not care to remember many names or faces.

It wasn’t hard to put two and two together. He was a Senate member, one of Verity’s colleagues. Probably her superior, going by her nerves and the fact that she had personally escorted him here.

“Lord Pierce Hale.” Verity introduced him calmly, “This is Emmett Wright, co-founder of the Assassin’s Guild, and Miss Cybelle DeHamphir, First Class Assassin.”

“Ahh, quite the pleasure.” Lord Hale replied with a smile and shaking Emmett’s hand, making him look extremely uneasy. He had this calm, smooth voice, that was slightly unnerving.

I didn’t like him.

He turned to me next and had the audacity to kiss my hand. The cheek! “You must be the adopted daughter Lady Harman was telling me about. She speaks very highly of you, Miss DeHamphir.”

I certainly didn’t like him.

“Well, I have had a great many things said about me, Sir.” I grumbled in response, and pulled my hand back to fold my arms.

I must have been frowning a little more prominently than I had intended, because Verity was shooting me a look. In hindsight, I probably looked as if I were gazing at a rather slimy toad.

“Forgive me, but Lady Harman tells me that you are a Vampire.” He began…oh, bloody hell, I knew where this was going, “But now that we meet in person, it seems that there is something a little more to you than meets the eye.”

I stopped myself from rolling my eyes and tried to smile (for Verity’s sake). “You are new to us, Lord Hale.” I began to explain, “The Guild is made up of as many hybrids as ordinary Night Walking people. Having a range of abilities makes us extremely efficient Assassins.”

Hale watched me as I spoke, something about his eyes seemed…searching. It was rather an intrusive look. “I understand.” He said thoughtfully, “It’s just that I have not often seen a Sirith Mage. Such a rare specimen you are, my dear.”

I narrowed my eyes at that. As far as I was concerned, I was nobody’s ‘dear’ and I didn’t appreciate this fancy old Vampire making comments about my colourful ancestry. Having the blood of all the different Night races did not make me different from any other hybrid. Half of them were so distant I couldn’t even access their abilities anyway.

It occurred to me that if he knew what a Sirith Mage was by name, Hale must be extremely old, even for a Vampire…

Verity was now giving me a severe warning look. She was right though, a conversation on this matter could easily become dangerous.

“I believe we have strayed far from our intended subject.” I pointed out, “You came here because you have a job for us?”

“Ah, yes.” Hale uttered as if he had momentarily forgotten himself, “I have come to make a request, it is of dire importance to our society as we know it-”

“No.” Emmett cut him off, earning him a glare from Verity and a sharp elbow from me. As much as this Lord Hale made me think some very unladylike words with his direct manner of speaking, I knew better than to disrespect an Aristocrat, particularly a Senate member.

“You did not let me finish, Mr Wright.” Hale replied calmly, a note of his voice sounding somewhat taken aback.

Emmett, who was now sat at the large oak desk, clasped his hands and leaned forward, “We do not run petty errands. You were about to ask us to take a pack of hunters or a gang or something of the like. You nobles always play it up to be some matter of great importance so that we are obligated to take the job. If Lord Rosencrans himself can’t make the order, then it’s obviously not of enough importance for us.”

I was going to kill him later.

“Emmett.” Verity growled.

“Speak for yourself.” I mumbled, “Some of us appreciate the work.”

“The lady has spirit.” Hale said with a smile, but it was brief before he returned to a sullen, serious frown, “I assure you, I was not about to send you on a fool’s errand.”

“Then pray, elaborate.” Emmett replied impatiently.

“This is a personal request, with the interests of our society at heart.” Pierce explained, “I am talking about one Hunter in particular, which you of all people, Mr Wright, will know makes all the difference.”

I bit back a sea of rude replies. That had been extremely below the belt for so many reasons.

“As a matter of fact, I do.” Emmett replied through gritted teeth. To his credit I was surprised at his boldness, it was just a very bad time.

After a moment to calm myself, I decided I had best take over before this got any worse. “Then what is so special about this particular Hunter?” I demanded, “This city is crawling with them.”

“Largely she made an attempt on my life.” Hale explained bluntly, “She appears to be targeting higher and higher families. Gods forbid she could be planning to bring down our entire structure.” With this, he met my eyes, giving what he must have hoped was a sincere, concerned expression, “Her targets could range anywhere from the head of the council himself to your very life, Miss DeHamphir. I am sure you understand my concern.”

Concern my arse, I thought. He was obviously only feigning it to look after his own hide, as his class so often do.

Still, if it had nothing to do with Night politics, or the sad excuse we had for it, it was good enough for me.

“And I presume your concern has a number?” I raised an eyebrow.

“Whatever your services cost. Money is of little object to me, it will be worth the end result.” He assured us.

Emmett looked disgruntled, but seemed to realise that we had no valid reason to decline the job. We weren’t exactly a moral organisation after all, and we both knew that where Hale was on reasonable terms with us right now, he had plenty influence. If we crossed him, he could rain hell upon the Guild without even lifting a finger. I hated to admit it myself, but it was not worth the trouble.

“Fine, I’ll add you to the books.” Emmett agreed finally, “But first we need specifics. You know the exact identity of our target and where we might find them?”

Hale nodded, “Here in our fine city of London. She is a lady of nobility such as Miss DeHamphir here.”

I scoffed quietly. I hated flattery, especially from a snake.

“Her name is Miss Ava Chimera.” Hale confirmed.

There was a long pause in which Verity, Emmett and I looked at each other in confusion. Verity was tapping her teacup again in the silence.

“Are you absolutely sure about that?” I spoke up eventually, “If the Guild get this wrong, we can lose a great deal of reputation, not to mention privileges. And our weapons expert would be most displeased at that.”

It was the truth, if a veiled warning, Emma would be livid.

“Yes, I am sure. I saw with my own eyes.” Hale assured us, “As I mentioned, I narrowly escaped her attempt on my life. One tends to remember such a face…I am sure you know well, Miss DeHamphir, that not all is what it seems.”

“Quite…” I grumbled.

I may have been sceptical, but the encounter with Miss Chimera earlier that day was still fresh in my mind. I didn’t know for sure exactly what it was, but she was up to something, and after Hale’s request, I could be sure that it was nothing good. I must say, I didn’t have her down as a Hunter, but I had seen worse covers.

Still, something definitely stank, and for once in the history of the Guild (no, actually the history of England) it was not Emmett’s feet…

“Well then.” I decided, “If Mr Wright here has no further protests, then I shall be sure to inform the team. I will leave you two gentlemen to negotiate the matter of payment.”

“Thank you, Miss DeHamphir.” Hale said with a smile. I didn’t like that smile, he looked too much like a cat waiting outside a mouse hole.

“A pleasure.” I said flatly, before turning on my heel and walking out of the office. It was perhaps cruel of me to leave him with Emmett, but I wasn’t going to forget that Emmett had been the one to try Hale’s patience in the first place.

I had to admit, something still struck me as off about whatever Ava Chimera had gotten involved in, but then, I was an Assassin, I couldn’t exactly claim the moral high ground.

I decided I didn’t care, and put it all to the back of my mind. Just another job.

I had been about to go upstairs to the training room, but I heard the purposeful click of sensible slightly heeled boots on the hallway tiles behind me. I turned around to see Verity had emerged from the office, leaving Emmett alone with Lord Hale.

Curious.

“Cybelle, might I have a word?” She asked calmly, but she still looked strangely troubled.

“…Of course. Is something wrong?” I replied, suspicious.

“No, no, of course not.” She said with a meaningful look, “However, I think we ought to step into my office for a moment.”

Perhaps to anybody else that might not sound too serious, but for one, this was Verity, and for another, her office had so many spells on it, it must be the second safest room in the Guild.

Was she trying to get away from Hale?

I nodded and glanced back at the Guild office, “Lead the way.”

We continued upstairs, but not a word more was said until we were inside Verity’s personal office and the door was firmly shut. She kept an extremely sophisticated Shield and Cloaker on the room, so that when the door closed, a thin golden light traced its outline. Then, just as the door had been there one moment, the next it disappeared into seamless floral wallpaper.

Verity’s own office was much more well-kept than ours downstairs, probably because Emmett wasn’t allowed in it for a start. There were huge bookshelves along the back wall containing ancient, dusty old tomes and a spotless mahogany writing desk sat in the middle, spell books and boxes of potion ingredients piled neatly upon it. A small cauldron hung in the fireplace and around it sat three red leather chairs.

Verity snapped her fingers and the fireplace roared into golden flames as we sat down on the chairs. Without even an introduction, Verity looked me in the eye and said, “Cybelle, I want you to promise me that you are going to be extremely, extremely careful.”

I was rather taken aback, and it took me a moment or two before I could conjure a response. “Why do you say that?”

She shook her head, seeming to realise how the situation must look, “I do not trust Lord Hale. In fact, that is the very reason I insisted on escorting him to the Guild personally, and why I do not have a great deal of time to explain this to you.”

“I understand he must be high ranking, and he looks perfectly suspicious to me, but….” I frowned, “Verity, what do you know that I don’t?”

She averted her eyes, “For a start, Lord Hale is extremely high ranking, he is a personal councillor to Lord Rosencrans himself. The devil in his ear if you ask me.” At this she grimaced, “The Head of the Council, of course trusts him, despite my consistent warnings otherwise. I know the man from a long time ago and I fear he always had ulterior motives. After all, one can’t often teach an old dog new tricks.”

“But your hands are tied.” I guessed, unfortunately all too familiar with the restriction and delicate nature of Verity’s position, “But what makes you so sure?”

“He did some unspeakable things in the Night Wars.” She said simply, her voice lowering dangerously as she seemed to restrain herself from looking too angry.

“I see…” I replied, deciding that it was best not to elaborate on such a tentative subject, “But surely the Guild are simply on the side-lines of all this. If anybody should be careful, it should be you and Lord Rosencrans.”

Verity shook her head and paused, as if she was deciding whether to say the next thing out loud. At last she sighed and looked at me directly again, “Cybelle, my dear, there is no easy or quick way to say this, but Pierce requested to meet you specifically when I brought him to the Guild. I told Emmett to get that message to you on his behalf.”

That took me a moment to comprehend, though it put me back in mind of that strange, searching look Pierce had given me during our meeting. It made me feel horribly uncomfortable all of a sudden, that not only was I working for this shady, suspicious gentleman, but I was of interest to him.

“Why on earth would he want to meet me?” I spluttered, “I am of no interest to the Council or the Senate these days! I am a bloody Assassin, and that’s all.”

“I suppose he wanted to meet his brother’s daughter.” Verity answered, stunning me into silence.

I didn’t have anything to say to that. His brother’s daughter…Pierce Hale was my uncle!? All these years and I hadn’t known, though honestly I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. I think I had preferred having no living family but Verity to being related to the only man I had ever seen make her twitch.

It was all typical of my luck though, I find I have a relative and he turns out to be this sinister, snake like Aristocrat whom nobody could trust. Leagues apart from my father, who had indeed been strong and somewhat stubborn, but also caring and protective…even honourable.

I must have looked in shock because Verity soon spoke up, “I am sorry I never told you sooner, Cybelle, but it was the gentler thing to do. He is not a man one would be proud to be associated with. And with everything that has happened recently, I doubted you needed anything else on your mind.”

It took me a few more moments to find my voice again. A part of me wasn’t sure if keeping it from me had been the right thing to do on Verity’s part, but I understood. She always had her reasons after all, and I trusted her far more than this so-called uncle of mine.

I clasped my hands to keep from any of my nervous habits, and looked back at her, “I didn’t know my father had a brother.”

She shook her head and I noticed that sad, distant look in her eye that she always wore when she talked about my parents. Her closest friends. “They were estranged, I am afraid. The moment Amdis proposed to your mother Pierce decided that he wanted nothing more to do with him. They had very different ideals, and frankly we were all glad to see him off. I presume after all these hundreds of years, curiosity got the better of him…I hope that is the case, anyway.”

I sighed, and attempted to gather my slightly thrown wits, “Well, if my father was glad to see the back of him, then so will I.” I decided, “We shall do his blasted job, and then he can leave us alone. And I promise you, Verity I will be careful…I hope you will be as well.”

She nodded and seemed relieved, “Agreed. Now, I had better rescue Emmett from our guest.”

I managed a slight smile to prove that I wasn’t too shaken, “I’m sure he’s learned his lesson by about now.”

“Don’t be wicked.” Verity warned me, but she was very slightly smiling as well, “Oh, and one more thing.”

“As long as it’s not another dubious relation.” I replied, getting to my feet.

“Nothing of the sort.” Verity confirmed, opening one of her desk drawers and removing a small envelope, “This arrived for you this morning. I had to prize it out of Miss Bennett’s hands, she was being her usual unwelcomingly curious self and trying to read it over a lamp. I caught her in time, don’t you worry.”

Somewhat surprised, I took the envelope from her outstretched hand and looked at it. My name was printed neatly on the reverse, and the handwriting was instantly recognisable.

“Addressed just to me.” I mused aloud, “Unusual.”

Verity smiled again and rolled her eyes, “You mustn’t sound so surprised, Cybelle.” She said in a tone of voice that I swear she was trying to tease me, “He wrote to everyone of course, but clearly he wished to contact you personally. Now, I have business to attend to, I shall see you soon.”

We said our goodbyes and I left for my room, where I could read the letter undisturbed.

I could not help smiling a little in anticipation, but I realised I must look a fool and wiped it off my face sharpish before exiting the stairwell on the first floor and walking swiftly to my room, closing the door behind me.

I read the letter twice, still biting my lip in attempt not to smile.

Dear Cybelle,

It has been far too long since I last wrote to you. This mission here in Venice has proven itself much larger than I first thought, however I think I may be on my way to finishing it. In fact, by the time this letter finds you, I should be well on my way home…I hope.

Despite its little Vampire problem, this place truly is a wonder to behold! You would love to take a gondola ride down the many canals, taking in the sights of the city at night. Next time, I shall have to take you with me.

The others tell me you are due back from your enforced leave, I’m glad to hear you are feeling better. I know that this time has been difficult, it has for both of us. However, when I am back, we shall have to honour his memory together. All for one, and one for all.

As I said, I shall be back within a day or two, dependant on whether tonight goes to plan.

Thinking of you always,

James.

How to Read This Blog…

Salutations!

So I feel the need to start with an introduction. I have hosted blogs before but I want this one to be a little bit different…so if you stay with me on this for a moment, you’ll understand the bizarre nature of my blog posts! Magic!

So for those who don’t know me, hello! My name is Imogen, otherwise known as I. I. Laverick, author of the gothic/steampunk dark fantasy novel, Dead Night. I am also a full time goth/steampunk (yes, that means every day) and dressmaker and cosplayer, about to hopefully pursue a degree (and hopefully also a career) in costume design and practice. I adore all things historical, fantastical and gothic, and read like Hermione Granger two weeks before OWLs.

And the reason you need to know this? Well, this blog is a little bit like me: mad, sporadic and can’t choose a subject! You can expect book reviews, fiction writing articles, sewing/upcycling tutorials, steampunk culture articles, and a few things in between. I’ll try to keep everything nice and easy to sort through.

So basically, expect the unexpected. I’ll try to sort the posts into Steampunk, tutorials, writing or similar catagories so you can find them, but you may have to bear with me as I get used to WordPress. Also, due to things like trying to get into university, and re-writing my first novel (and I’ve got to be honest, comic con), I won’t have a posting schedule yet. I will however, be updating my social media whenever I post something new, so feel free to find me via the links on bookface, twitter and instagram.

There’s a post categories menu, a search bar and a blog archive at the bottom of the page, for all your navigating needs!

So if you’re a little bit mad, welcome to my little corner of the internet! And if you’re not…welcome anyway (we can always turn you, don’t worry).

I hope my experience and thoughts on costume, steampunk and fiction are useful to some of you, and if not entertaining. Thank you for stopping by!

 

Love and tea,

I. I. Laverick.

The 15 AWESOME People You Meet in Steampunk

img_0064Salutations,

For my first post, I really wanted to do something upbeat, positive and a bit geeky…but on a serious note first, I’ll tell you how it came about. You see, for a while now (mostly since I joined the land of social media), I’ve been seeing a lot of silly in-fighting, bitching and complaints between various alternative communities, and it really does sadden me, after all, we’re all a bit weird, we’re meant to be sicking together.

It’s a small thing, but I’ve seen a lot of “fifteen annoying/stupid people you meet in (insert subculture here)” and I’m not going to name names or point fingers, as I’m sure their intent wasn’t really that malicious, but I saw one about steampunk not long ago which insisted on roasting pretty much everyone who did anything in the community. I’m sure you’re not meant to take it seriously, but I’m really not a fan of this mean spirited sense of humour at other, real people’s expense…especially when they work super hard at what they do.

Now I come from the West Midlands Steampunk Assembly, which HAS to be the most accepting, friendly, and chilled out steampunk community in the world (especially my little local section), so I realise I must be super  lucky if some of the alternative communities out there can be so catty and elitist. In fact, when I tell people about my steampunk group, I always say that first and foremost, we are friends, who just so happen to have met through a common passion for Victoriana.

SO, without further delay, I have retaliated in the most positive way I could think of. And if you take nothing else away from this post, let it be this: we’re all weirdos together, so be good to each other. Everyone is in the same boat.

Welcome to:

The Fifteen AWESOME People You’ll Meet in Steampunk! (inspired by my local branch of the WMSA!)

1. The Leader– This is the one that has his or her top-hatted head screwed on (or in our case, bowler, but never mind)! The Leader is awesome, because they are usually responsible for many of the brilliant steampunk outings you go on, whether it be picnics, big events or museum exhibitions. This person has the gift of being able to organise the group, the trip, the lifts and even the afternoon tea, and don’t expect anything in return but a smile and maybe a thanks once in a while. The Leader isn’t usually an ‘in charge’ figure as much, but an unsung hero, so make sure to show them some love every so often for everything they do!

2. The Maker– This person knows their stuff, and usually has a new prop, accessory or other creation to show off at every meet! The Maker has a talent in one or more creative discipline, whether it’s nerf modding, prop making, or jewellery designing, and often knows how to solve your prop malfunction with ease and style…not to mention looking epic themselves! They are also usually the best place to find the most unique steampunk items, as many of them sell their work. Having a maker in your group is awesome, and they’ll always be a font of information and ready for a great creative discussion.

3. The Dressmaker– This is one that ups the group’s fabulous factor! The Dressmaker is usually the most stylish member at any event, swooping in with a dramatic dress or a well tailored suit straight out of any glossy steampunk book. They know their stuff, and you can bet they’ll be first to the scene of a costume malfunction with a sewing kit, some hot glue and a handbag full of safety pins! They may also have a nose for sniffing out steampunk in the old charity shop/vintage fair trawls, so they are well worth having as your partner is fashion crime!

4. The Writer– Often the quiet one (but not always!), the Writer is off with the fairies, but can always tell a good story, and recommend you the hottest new reads in steampunk fiction. They’re fantastic to talk to, and have a vivid imagination…get them talking about their story or one they love and you’ll be there for ages! The Writer might sometimes be insecure about their work,  but having one in your group is fantastic for any reader or creative! You’ll never be bored with this one around.

5. The Photographer– We all love the Photographer…because they make the rest of us look incredible! This person is usually at the head of any outing, scouting the best shots to show off your steamy ensemble, and the first one online when you get home, with some beautifully framed memories of the day. The Photographer is super talented, and we don’t know where we’d be without them!

6. The Mental-Case– This one is the life of the party! The Mental-Case can be loud and boisterous, but we love them for it. They tell the best jokes, and keep the group in a positive spirit, even if you’ve got no idea what they’re talking about! This person is super fun to be around, and sees the funny side of everything, even if you turn up to the punknic drenched in rain, with a costume malfunction and significant lack of tea, you’ll still laugh about it by then end with The Mental-Case as a friend!

7. The Talker– The Talker is the one that makes you wonder ‘where did those last three hours go?’, but you wouldn’t have it any other way. This person has the gift of engaging conversation, and before you know it, you’ve had a ton of ideas for your next project, planned the next eight events and discussed the entire last series of Doctor Who in such depth you could swear you now know gallifreyan. This person is fantastic to have in the group, and can be super fun from the moment you get them chatting!

8. The Musician– The Musician is amazing, and you’ll find they know how to get a party going! This person is awesome both on and off stage, usually outgoing and dead friendly, but also with the gift of serenading anyone who hears them at a show. Your group may even be thanking this person for a few of their events! The Musician will probably also be your source of new musical obsessions, and be the first to discover a new act and exclaim “OH! Have you heard this one yet?”

9. The History Fanatic– Steampunk attracts history geeks like moths to a flame, and why wouldn’t it? This person is amazing to have around, always a font of information. They’ll not only be able to help you decide which cravat to wear with your 1880’s dress suit, or date your antique binoculars, but have lengthy conversations and teach you all manner of interesting and useful tidbits of information. They’ll usually be the first one to freak out at an event because they’ve seen a brilliant historical easter egg than nobody else had noticed. The History Fanatic is the epitome of you learn something new every day, and that’s awesome!

10. The All-Rounder– This person is truly wonderful to be around. Like a true Victorian explorer, they’re always discovering something new. They tend to know a great many things in all areas, and are good at solving problems, as they see a way around it that nobody else has noticed yet! The All-Rounder will probably drag you into some wacky schemes, but they’re always fun and always great to have around.

11. The Steam Curious- This person probably considers themselves on the cusp of steampunk. Perhaps they haven’t been around for very long, perhaps they don’t dress up with the rest of us, but that’s hardly a barrier, because the Steam Curious is here for the conversation and the friendship! This person is also really great because they tend to be researching weird and wonderful ways the steampunk style can be adapted or know how to mix it to create something new. If not, they’re just super friendly and a great member of the community!

12. The Newly Corrupted– This person hasn’t been into steampunk very long, and still has that initial excitement at starting projects and going on outings. Their enthusiasm is fantastic for the group, and they’re usually really eager to make friends and do new things. The Newly Corrupted may need advice and guidance from the group’s experienced creatives, but that’s great too, because you might find yourself challenged! They often have a new way of seeing things that you’ve never even thought of. The Newly Corrupted may still be settling in, but they should always be appreciated for the enthusiasm and usually new friends they bring to the group.

13. The Tech Savvy- This one knows what’s happening, where it’s happening and exactly how you’re all going to be there. PLUS they know how to get that stupid app working on your phone, or recover the lost manuscript on your laptop. Yes, the Tech Savvy member of the group is plugged in with their friendface, twitter and instagram, so they usually know where the best gigs are and how to get tickets, and they can also bring their techy knowledge to steampunk projects. Animations, videos and and light-up-spinning-whadjamacallits are this person’s forte. We’d be nowhere without them!

14. The Full Timer-This is the most ballsy member of the group, the one who dons their finery all the time. They’re few and far between, but we love them for their confidence, you know you’ll never be the only one at an event in full gear if this person turns up! Not only will they usually be up for modelling, muggle scaring, and keeping the more self-conscious of the steamies in good company, but they also tend to have some great thrifting tips to help build your wardrobe. After all, this is what they do! If there’s a new vintage shop in town, or the local  discount shop is selling brass keys and fur stoles, the Full Timer will be on the scene!

15. The Loot Bringer– The Loot Bringer is the one who just has a knack for happening upon useful things! They’ll turn up to a steampunk meet with a bag of swag and know exactly where to get that pesky little finishing for your steampunk nerf gun. This person is awesome and super generous, always seeing things with the first thought of ‘I know who would love this!‘. Even if they don’t throw around shinies all the time, you can still bet on them being willing to help you search for something obscure. This magpie is a brilliant partner in crime!

BONUS: The Friend– We steampunks, and all other alternative folk too, tend to come from all walks of life, and my one wish for you, if you find a community, is that you meet this one in all of them. the local WMSA lot and I have been really good friends for ages now, and it’s all down to being nice to each other, hanging out in or out of steampunk meets and attire, and just being laid back an having a laugh. The friend is the one that makes you love being in the steampunk community, and the best thing about it, which is why I had to add it to this list!

So you probably know people who are more than one of these archetypes. In fact I hope you do, because that makes them twice as brilliant! If anybody thinks I’ve missed one out or would like to see something like this again, do let me know! I’d definitely think about doing Fifteen awesome people you meet in goth, or fifteen more people you meet in steampunk or something like that.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed! Stay steamy, stay awesome, and be good to one another! Freaks together, freaks forever! 😉

Love and tea,

I. I. Laverick

(Photo from West Midland’s Steampunk Assembly outing- Marvelous Machines, Rowland Emmett Exhibition in Birmingham, UK. Photographer: A. T. B. Foster)