A #SampleSunday post of Raven Grace - My #Steampunk Novella

Chapter 1
Human life is of value.
The rich man living in a Manor is no more valuable than the poor living in the gutter.
The scoundrel is no less valuable than the saint.
A Reaper must redeem each and every life he takes.

Raven Grace stepped off the walkway onto the cobblestone street to avoid the post of a gaslight lamp standing in her way.  The crowd in front of a street vender wouldn’t part for her, and she didn’t feel like elbowing through this time. Used to the whispers and stares, she winked at a pinch-faced woman with cottony hair who looked Raven up and down with disapproval. Even in the city, a woman in breeches instead of a skirt was just not acceptable. Or maybe it was the crossbow snapped to the magnets on the back of her corset.
New Haven boasted of a modern environment, dominated by foot traffic and more automated horses than flesh ones. Three to four story buildings stacked together like books on a shelf to both sides of the brownstone street. Merchants peddled their wares from carts, occasionally pushed by automatons to draw interest. Outside of carriage drivers, the general population had little to do with the shiny metal, clockwork robots otherwise.  Though it’s heard they are frequent among the zeppelin-living high society.
She pushed away a black curl as it fell into her eyes when she lowered her head and skipped up the steps toward the bridge. Only a day’s journey still stood between her and Greg’s house, and this time she’s not injured. She smiled to herself as she imagined the look of surprise on his face. She might just tell him she loves him this time.
A scream pierced the air, and she furrowed her brows. A polished brass automated horse barreled toward the bridge from the opposite side. The eerie sound of scraping metal set Raven’s teeth on edge. Steam poured from the nostrils of the metal horse and leaked from its joints in an unnatural way. The black lacquer carriage it pulled careened on two wheels, threatening to tip through the turn before righting itself.  A metal coachman in the driver’s seat was headless and rendered useless. 
Raven jumped to the railing, moving out of the way of the stampeding crowd as they raced toward her to evade the mayhem. She gripped the lamppost as time trickled to a crawl. Her Reaper instincts kicked in, and she scanned the area to take in every detail.  The door to the carriage sat open and banging on the side of the black lacquered frame. Though she couldn’t see the occupant, a shadow told of only one.  With a sudden jerk left, the horse charged for the railing, and the oak boards splintered apart as though they were balsa wood.
In a quick, natural motion, Raven unsnapped her crossbow and felt through the quiver on her side for the right bolt for her bow.  Pulling the wire from her belt’s winch, she hooked it to the arrow, pointed it at the wooden post of the gas lamp standing closest to the carriage, and pulled the trigger.
For a moment, the heavy metal horse hung over the edge as the carriage wedged between the parts of broken railing. The horse’s metal legs still poured steam as they struggled in the air. Gouges raked along the black side as the carriage inched its way toward the rim. The door stuck in the closed position. Two small hands pressed against the window.  As the door made it past the railing and the hands pushed it open, the body of a young boy tumbled out. He held the door handle with his fingertips. A gasp and a few screams filled the air behind her.
A female voice shrieked, “It’s the young duke.”
 Adrenaline pumped through her veins as Raven made the leap. The wind blew through her long hair as she reached for the falling carriage. It broke free from the bridge a moment before she reached it. She pressed the button on her winch to release more line, and grabbed the boy in a full embrace just before they hit the water.  As the line reached the end, her body jerked to a stop submerged, and the boy’s forehead struck her in the temple. The saltwater burned her eyes, and stars dance in her vision. Bubbles of air escaped her lips in a moan.
The boy was unconscious. She gripped him with her right arm and hit the rewind lever on her winch with her left.  Streaks of her black hair stuck to her face as she broke the surface of the water. The winch pulled her toward the bridge, and the crowd above began clapping. Gasping, Raven raised an eyebrow. Was this a show for their pleasure?
With a squish in her black boots, she pushed off a tarred pylon to make it over the lip of the bridge without the cable pulling them against the railing.  The winch slowed as it neared the top. Raven reached up with her left hand and grabbed the crossbow bolt. With a flick of her thumb, she depressed the lever that caused the grappling hooks to withdraw, and replaced it in her quiver. A slow zipping sound continued as the winch on her belt drew in the cable. Hands from the crowd pulled the boy from her grasp, and she let them. She blinked the water from her eyes, her vision still blurred. Four armed guards and one skinny man in a bowtie surrounded the boy she’d hauled to the surface. The guards held back the crowd.
With a sputter and a cough, the boy wretched water from his lungs. Raven smiled, glad the boy made it. She attempted to step toward him, but she was stopped with a vice-like grip. Her fingertips twitched; ready to grab the knife on her hip and fight her way out, if necessary. She looked up and studied the hard faces of the two guards holding her. She considered smacking one in the jaw with the back of her head, but considered the surrounding crowd.  She made a count of the collateral damage and clenched her jaw. She needed no more lives to redeem herself for. With a deep sigh, she remained still.
The man in the bowtie had the wet boy pulled to his chest.  Cold blue eyes met hers as he pointed and said, “Arrest her.”

Thanks for reading! Do you think you'd be enticed into reading more? If so, I may consider editing it and posting as I go along as a serial fiction of the novella. Leave a comment if you'd be interested! 


  1. Excellent. Keeps you on the edge of your seat, while introducing you to a well-defined, alluring and descriptive steam-punk world. I'm looking forward to reading the entire short story!

    1. Thanks Julian! You'll have to get that short story written that takes place in your "world" I'll beta read it if you need! :)