The Krie Seekers is the second short story in a serialized collection of “vignettes” called CITY STEAM. This collection is a set of glimpse-teasers for a forthcoming novel -- you meet some of the characters, learn about the city of Dormorn, and get a taste of the socio-political conflict in the Windward Empire. The CITY STEAM collection has an “uncanny horror” or “weird” theme to it. For those of you who are more interested in the romance or erotic side of things, keep your eyes open for my CITY STEAM X collection (by Quinn Templeton) which has the same vignette idea but the stories are all centered around amorous encounters.
In The Krie Seekers, you meet Tatty and Skell, two Seeker sisters who are recruited to help hunt down their mortal enemies, the Krie. But the relationship between the Krie and the Seekers isn’t what it seems, even to them! You’ll learn a little bit about the Krie and the Seekers – two supernatural creatures who have been put in a unique situation by this world’s god, Ehleis. You can expect to find: horror, romance, supernatural beings, and some Steampunk elements. I hope you enjoy!
Excerpt of The Krie Seekers
The one with the long, blonde braid paced across the starboard-aft engine room of the airship -- her route taking her back and forth between the B100 tanks. As she moved, her sensible boots rang hollow on the metal grating and her leather jacket billowed around her slight frame.
Boone didn't think she'd be stupid enough to try a run for it, but the way she kept glancing at the dark-haired one in the jumper made him nervous. He couldn't get the feeling that the two young women were silently communicating out of his head. That, and the dark-haired one made him uncomfortable. Just a little bit. While both had an uncanny, almost ethereal way about them, something about the set of the brunette’s intelligent green eyes and the angles of her face made him think that she wasn’t quite human.
“So-” Mardigan's words drew Boone's attention away from the two stow-aways and back to the tall, stately figure of his partner. Mardigan placed one gloved hand on his hip and began stroking his dark mustache with the other. “You found them asleep under the ballast bags? And that is when you summoned the port authority?”
Shelton Weaver, the captain of the airship Ariella Sturgeon, nodded, his oily mouse-colored hair brushing his wind-reddened forehead. “Don't know how long they been there. We haven't stopped since Fort Lemonts back on Fair Isle, and then there ain’t many women there. Just the whores, an' these ones,” he pointed a thumb in the direction of the two women, “they don't got the look o' whores.” He shrugged. “But I can't see how they coulda gotten this far without coming out fer vittles or needin' ta heed the call of the wild. Ye know what I mean?” He planted an elbow in Boone's ribs and grinned, showing a severe lack of dental hygiene.
Shifting away from the foul-breathed man, Boone exchanged nervous glances with Mardigan. His partner removed his bowler cap and rubbed a broad hand through his coal-black hair; then, sighing, Inspector Mardigan replaced the cap and shoved his hands into his jacket pockets. He frowned, indicating he wasn't sure where next to take this.
Squaring his narrow, tweed-clad shoulders, Boone said, “Have you made an inquiry into the status of your stores? Checked to see that nothing is amiss? Inspected the surrounding area for any detritus or debris?”
The captain narrowed a watery, brown eye at the sergeant as if wondering if the man's use of such language were intended to stump him. “I have,” he said evenly. “Nothing amiss and I got a man on duty at the door all hours. Nobody's seen no woman sneakin' out to use the loo and my ship's as clean as the Empress's backside, I promise you that.”
Boone raised his eyebrow. “Stowaways who neither ate nor defecated after weeks in the air? Seems highly unlikely.”
“Not entirely,” Mardigan breathed, stepping forward and eying the women with newfound interest.
Boone didn’t like his expression. “What’s on your mind, Inspector?”
“Stasis,” Mardigan barked. The heads of the females came up in perfect unison.
Uncertain, Boone bit his lip. He'd only ever heard of one kind of creature that went into stasis, but before he could ask the Inspector, Mardigan was turning back toward the captain and speaking again. “Have you ever heard of the Greene Street Massacre, Captain Weaver?”
The man nodded, a slow jerky movement. “Yeah, who hasn't?”
Mardigan's black eyes slid toward where the women were standing a few yards away. They were both watching the men now, curvaceous bodies still and bright eyes alert. They reminded Boone of street thieves ready to take flight.
Almost as if he were telling the women and not the captain, Mardigan began his tale. “I was only a constable then. We were called out to the eastern province to investigate a rash of disappearances. We were lucky -- arriving on the night of another murder and we were able to trace the killer back to his lair. A squadron broke down the door and stormed in. No one came out.”
The dark haired one blinked and turned toward the blonde one. Again, Boone got the distinct feeling that the two were communicating in some way beyond the human tongue.
Mardigan turned back toward the captain. “Eventually, when we went in to investigate what had become of them, the entire squadron was dead. Not just dead, torn limb from limb, their innards strewn about like festival garland and, like the gruesome murders before them, parts of their bodies went unaccounted for. A foot missing here, a set of eyes there, the skin of another over that way. Strangest part of all was that, for such a massacre, not a sound had been uttered by a one of them.”
He waited for his words to sink in before continuing. “Murders like that have spread all over the Empire and we've yet to catch a damn killer. It's like some kind of plague of elusive cannibals.”
“Yeah,” Captain Weaver interrupted. “I know this. Everyone knows this. It's the Krie. Worshipers of Ehleis is claiming we woke the Krie. They says our mining up in the mountains and down in the earth has stirred up the Krie hives -- broken some kind of long sleep ‘er somthin’. Says they come to take vengeance for disturbing the sacred order o’ things.”
Mardigan nodded. “We’ve disturbed the hives, it's generally accepted. We've managed to find some mention of them in ancient texts, from times before the Babel Decree, and-” His eyes wandered toward the women. They regarded him with cocked heads and eyes too predatory and intelligent to leer from any human's face. “Records of the Seekers who hunted them,” he mused.
Scoffing, the captain waved his hand in dismissal. “Ain’t no such thing as a Seeker. Wishful thinking's all. Imma go with the Believers on this, the Krie are Ehleis' punishment for breaking the Decree. The whole o’ the Empire's gonna be overrun by something that no Mechanic or Alchemist, no class-defying Empress, and no amount o’ human pride can beat.”
Boone couldn't help the horrified look that broke his features. This man, this captain from far off shores, was blaspheming the Windward Empire in front of two law-men with no regard for the fact that they could, without question, exterminate him right here on the grounds of heresy and treason. “Good cogs, man, do you know what you are saying?”
The captain shrugged. “Course I do, ye can't tell me ye ain’t thinking it too. Much as I want to think we're beyond the reach of the Sun-God, I've seen a Seer and his Suldal in my time and they ain't no gran-nanny tale. Only thing keepin' me from bowin' and scrapin' to every word o' that Decree is that I'm more piss-scared of the Empress and her legions of fighting men than I am of Ehleis and his Seers and demons.”
Boone nodded. “She is, indeed, not a woman to be trifled with.”
“Still,” the captain muttered as he scratched his head. “I don't believe in no Seekers. They're just kiddie stories.”
Mardigan turned to the women, his eyes bright with a laughing humor that Boone did not understand. “I wouldn't say that. Would
I had a hard time putting together a playlist for The Krie Seekers – mostly because I originally wanted to fill it with steampunky-sort songs. But, then I realized that this novella, in particular, has a lot of dark and haunting elements. So, I changed my focus to finding songs that embodied the emotional mood and was able to come up with a good list that I think really suits this novella. Don’t bother watching the videos, just listen and enjoy! :D