Saturday, April 10, 2010

Murder Scene Blogfest – Steam Palace

Murder Scene Blogfest – Steam Palace

Thanks to Anne Riley for hosting the Murder Scene Blogfest. Click through to check out the other entries!

Also, please check out these other Blogfests including the Bad Girl Blogfest!

This excerpt is from my proposed Prologue to Steam Palace, my steampunk epic novel.

BloodyKnife-716411 Laurel held her week-old infant to her bosom. Her child’s life would be hard, painful. How easy it would be to dash her baby’s head upon rocks and be done with it, rather than witness the years of suffering she would surely endure. In the upper reaches of the manor, another woman suckled another baby, one destined for a life of ease, of luxury, of comfort and security. A nobleman’s daughter, born into a wealthy, reputable house.

Didn’t her child deserve such a life? Her Lord and Lady had cast her out, ordered her back to her impoverished Native village on the morrow. Her child was an embarrassment to them, a vile reminder of their sins. How would they feel if their precious infant was raised in such a harsh environment, forced to beg, steal, and prostitute herself for her daily bread? Why shouldn’t her child have all the advantages? It hardly seemed fair, not after certain promises had been broken.

An idea hatched. She had tended both infants, and earlier, mistook her master’s for her own. Through some curious vagary of nature, the babies appeared identical. A close examination revealed differences, and surely as they matured they would grow disparate, but right now, they were as indistinguishable as twins.

Her resolve hardened. She wrapped her babe in a blanket and climbed up the spiral stairs towards the nursery. She listened outside the servant’s door, ensuring that the mother was asleep and alone. Laurel pushed the door open and crept towards the bassinet. She placed her baby down and picked up the other as gently as she could. One errant cry and her plan would be foiled. She left the room and descended the stairs, releasing the breath she had been holding. Her heart thundered in her chest. Half-way down, she encountered Nehanti.

“What are you up to, Laurel,” hissed the old crone, a woman far beyond her useful years, and long overdue to succumb to the next wave of the Olding. A scarf covered her half-bald head, and her mottled skin hung from her limbs.

“Just walking,” replied Laurel, her throat constricting. “My baby needs air.”

The crone pointed a bony finger at her. “I know what you have done. It will not stand. Return that child to her mother.”

How could she know? “Please, I beg you, think of it—an Agawam as a nobleman’s daughter. She shall be given the life she deserves, not our life of filth and slavery. My child deserves this, and you know it. They will never know.” She prayed the baby would not wake.

The crone shook her head. “It makes no difference. Your child is cursed either way. Place her back at once or I shall summon our masters.” The crone blocked her way, her sunken eyes reflecting moonlight.

The crone’s meddling knew no bounds. “No! I will not return her!”

The crone drew a deep breath to raise an alarm, but before she could release the words, a dagger plunged into left shoulder. She slid to her knees and then tumbled down the stairs, smacking the stones in sickening thuds. Laurel tiptoed after her as the baby stirred. The crone lay still.

No one investigated. Now to hide the body, to allow time for escape, for the infant could awaken at any moment. She shuffled to her room and placed the stolen child in a bassinet, and then returned to dispose of the body. She gasped—the crone had disappeared. No blood trails, nothing. She searched the servant’s quarters and outbuildings for frantic minutes, but the urgent cries of her baby returned her to her motherly duties. She packed up her meager belongings and departed the manor with the infant, never to return.

And yes, we do find out in a bit that the old crone dies of her wounds, so it is indeed murder! (not to mention kidnapping). Any comments/critiques are welcome!


  1. Very interesting! I want to know why the crone said your child is cursed either way! Great job!

  2. I agree with Harley. Lots of nice questions raised in this piece! Great job.

  3. Nice. why is the baby cursed??? So many good qualities here.

    I love that the body is gone...

    As usual, I greatly enjoyed your entry! ;o)

    I was unsure about this blogfest to begin I am truly enjoying it! ;o)

    Visit MY Kingdom Anytime

  4. I think this definitely hits the spot for Murder-- the Crone seems pretty spooky. How could she have known what Laurel did? I was a little confused as to where the knife came from, but in the grand scheme of things, with the tension of the scene, it didn't bother me that much. Nice work!

  5. Definitely makes me wonder about the curse, too! I like the descriptions of the crone—very vivid.

  6. ROCKIN! Thanks so much for posting - great job!

  7. @Harley: I wonder that too

    @Charity: It's a prologue...

    @Courtney: She's not quite dead...

    @Amalia: Maybe she's been watching Laurel, who has a knife because she's up to no good.

    @Jordan: It's a curse...and a curse. Thanks!

    @Anne: Thanks for hosting this!

  8. LOVED IT.

    I'd like to know more about the curse now :~) The description of the crone falling down the stairs after being stabbed was spot on. I really liked the way Laurel tiptoed after her, it kept me on edge.

    FAB post all in all :~D

  9. You drew me in and raised questions without immediately answering them which every good prologue should. You have a definite way with words. Being a soft heart, I worry for the stolen baby. But life never goes as you think it will.

    If you have the time and the inclination, please come check out my own entry. It's from my historical fantasy, RITES OF PASSAGE. Hope you enjoy the read.

    Thanks again, Roland

  10. Very well done Andrew. I love the imagery of upstairs/downstairs. And did you know that Agawam was the name of a chief in the Wampanoag tribe in 1660's. He fought agains the Purtians in King Phillip's War in SE Mass. and RI.

  11. @Mia: It's definitely hard to keep a baby quiet during a murder.

    @Roland: Yup, that baby will more or less lead the life she described

    @PW: In my alt history, that tribe didn't die off, it thrived. Instead of driving off the native Americans, they kind of co-exist.

  12. Great post. Not predictable for sure and don't worry, I believed it was a murder even when the crone had just disappeared. ;-) The writing is solid and interesting. Good job.

  13. I loved the writing, very well put together - dialogue and descriptions.
    I find it hard to believe the switch would go unnoticed - changing of the childrens's clothes would have been necessary.

  14. Nice. Became a follower based on this piece, looking forward to reading more of your stuff!

    - Eric

  15. Oh, nicely done, good sir. Solid characterization and believable actions. Left me curious about the "Olding" and, of course, the curse.

    I'd read more, for sure!

  16. Fantastic! I hope you'll post more in the future =)

  17. Loved this. I found it very realistic/believable. Mothers will go to great lengths to do what they feel is best for their children. Great stuff.

  18. I like it! The writing flows, but more than that - you leave some things open. And that keeps us wanting to know more....and wanting to read more.


  19. Great job! Left me with enough questions that I would definitely read on!


Constructive comments are welcome.
OpenID Required.