A Steampunk Guide to Hunting Monsters 14 - Page 20

Longville violently to the ground and whirled upon me, knocking me off my feet, and I felt the fl intlock spin out of my grasp. Th e Mayor charged into the Beast himself, and I dared not look, for (and I should not know this, being a lady of marriageable age, and innocent as the morning dew) he clearly slept practically in the buff . I rolled, coming to my knees against the wall, as the Beast, in a paroxysm of rage and silver-laced pain, bolted past me. Percy held up my gun, and for a moment, we stared into each other’s eyes. I saw hesitation, but then he looked down at his hands, and with a thin, close-mouthed smile, he tossed me the weapon. Th e howling of the Beast seemed to have roused even the soundest sleepers. All along the corridor, doors opened, and I heard many shouts of alarm and excitement as I pursued the Beast through the hall. We passed through entire rooms. Drawing rooms, foyers, living rooms. Th e Beast smashed glass and wood, and in some cases ripped entire doors from their frames! Only as we ran into the Monster Prison wing of the house did I realize that I had somehow misplaced the monster. I began to move silently through the dark, grabbing a lantern off of a nearby table. It was perplexing that no one, not one servant had been roused. I heard that sound. Th at heavy breathing, sputtering sound that was outside my door, but now it seemed strange and horrifying. At some point, near the Wendigo's cell, the noises died. I steeled my nerves. I did not want to see it, not that look in its eyes that compelled me to lose my senses. No. Never again. I managed to rush past, but against my better judgment I looked into the next cell and saw the vampire looking straight at me! Oh, how is it that I could show no fear in chasing a beast, but beasts’ captivity in cells could make me lose my wits like this? I dropped my lantern off the edge of the railing and down into the center of the fl oor below where it broke and went out. After some time of moving, I fumbled my way to another door. I entered into a strange room fi lled with low, fl ickering electricity. Someone sat in a chair at the back of the room, so I called, “Hello! Did you know there is a monster about?” I moved closer, as there was no answer, and the person clearly couldn't hear me over all the mechanical whirring. I suppose I was also trying to speak quietly. On a table nearby I observed some practically alchemical ingredients, broken plants, and leaves piled with… I know not what. I touched the fi gure's chair. It turned to reveal the severed head of Lu Yan's wife, but attached to numerous mechanical components. It was all I could do to hold my horror inside. She looked alive, and I nearly lost my wits when the severed head spoke! “Let me die,” she said. “Untie the ribbon. It hurts. Untie my ribbon. Let me die.” And then the head gurgled, blood poured from its mouth, and I have to stop now to confess some- thing. At that moment, terror struck me for the fi rst time in my life. I was horrified in that way that I hear people talk of. In that way that has never seemed to keep me from adven- ture. I fi ght when confronted. And here... I fl ed. I ran through the darkness (and am pleased to say I did not trip). I ran past the cells of the monsters. Past the Wendigo, past the broken lantern, through the varied rooms, and straig ЁѼAɍ́ɽ$)ѡɕ܁͕ɕѱ䁥Ѽ́ɵ̸)!ͭݡЁ݅́ɽ$ͅ+qA͔Ёt)$݅́ѕѡȁ͡Ёݡȁ$)ЁٕٔѡͱѕЁѡЁٕ)ѕȁ݅́ЁѼɕɕɽ́