This is a scene from the steampunk proposal I recently sent my agent, starring the adult children of Changeling Jane Austen and in the vein of Gail Carriger. I very much LOVE this project and it’s a ton of fun to work on.
As the dirigible began descending toward the twinkling lights of midnight Paris in the distance, Elizabeth couldn’t help but sigh at its sheer beauty. La Ville-Lumière—the City of Light—would always be her favorite city in the mortal realm for many reasons; not the least of them the breath-taking view of the city from several thousand feet above.
She flung her arms in the air and spun to face her sister. “Oh, how I do love the sight of Paris from the air. Isn’t it spectacular?”
Cassandra gripped the wooden railing tightly, her pale face showing none of the pleasure reflected on her twin’s countenance. “Amazing,” she gritted out in a tone indicating the precisely opposite sentiment.
Elizabeth’s enthusiasm dampened somewhat. “I do apologize, Cass. I forget how much you detest travel by air.”
Not only did her sister become appallingly airsick, Cassandra suffered from the most horrible case of acrophobia. Ironic, considering the fact she had nothing at all to fear so long as her twin was by her side. As the offspring of a mixed mortal-and-Fae-Changeling marriage, Elizabeth’s magical Specialty was with the Element of Air, which meant she could easily protect her sister from any sort of fall. Then again, Elizabeth reminded herself, it is an irrational fear of heights. Logic has nothing to do with it. Yet another stroke of irony, since Cassandra so greatly prided herself on her powers of reason and intellect.
Poor darling. Elizabeth placed a sympathetic arm along her sister’s shoulder. “We’ll be on the ground any moment now.”
“Yes,” Cassandra replied drily. “That’s precisely my fear.”
George came up alongside them with a spring to his step, a product of chatting up the dirigible’s crew for the past several hours since leaving London. He would seize the slightest opportunity to discuss Aether technology (despite the fact he was himself as Aether-blind as he was color-blind) with anyone who had the slightest bit of knowledge on the subject. Or even with those who didn’t, as he’d demonstrated by boring his sisters past the point of tears on more than one occasion.
“Chin up, dear girl.” He had the audacity to chuck his miserable sister on the chin. Elizabeth was shocked he pulled his hand back unscathed. “Aether-powered dirigibles are safer than any other modern-day form of travel. Why, in the past decade there have been fewer than a handful of explosions and—”
Elizabeth tightened her grip around her sister when Cassandra grasped the railing with even greater strength. “Not. Helping,” she muttered to their insensitive lout of a brother.
Fortunately, the dirigible’s loudspeaker crackled to life before George could offer any further “assistance.” “Passengers, please brace for final descent in approximately two minutes.”
“There, you see,” Elizabeth said triumphantly. “Two more minutes and we’ll all be safely on land once agai—”
A hideous cracking sound rent the air dangerously close to the three siblings. Cassandra let out a shriek that would have done their Banshee aunts proud. Elizabeth grabbed onto the panic-stricken Cassandra with her other arm, mind furiously trying to ascertain what that awful racket had been.
George suddenly froze, gaze whipping around the dimly-lit deck and searching the confused passengers for—something. “Someone is working Earth nearby.” He should know: Earth was his own magical Specialty. His statement meant that at least one unknown Changeling or Changechild (the name for children of Changelings) was nearby, since full-blooded mortals were, with only rare exceptions, magical nulls.
That had both twins tightening their holds even more firmly. Elizabeth was the only of the two calm enough to ask the logical question. “But why would anyone this high up on a dirigible need to work Eart—”
She really would have to learn to keep her mouth shut. No sooner had those words passed her lips than she felt a tremendous vibration underneath and a second, louder crash boomed directly in front of them. The deck itself trembled and then the railing gave way and Cassandra pitched straight forward into empty air.
Elizabeth wasn’t quite so lucky. She went forward all right—by virtue of her death grip upon the screaming Cassandra—but she also received a nasty blow to the head when disintegrating wood smacked into it. Stars lit up her vision, but they were neither the charming pinpoints glittering overhead nor Paris’s famed gas lamps below. Agony soon followed, radiating from her forehead backward and dulling Cassandra’s ear-splitting cries to something approaching bearable. She was distantly aware of George calling out both their names and then…nothing.