The Black Orchid - The Viper and the Urchin #2
The Black Orchid - The Viper and the Urchin #2
The Black Orchid - The Viper and the Urchin #2
The Black Orchid - The Viper and the Urchin #2
The Black Orchid - The Viper and the Urchin #2

The Black Orchid - The Viper and the Urchin #2

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An old friend drained of his blood.
A shortage of black silk.
Rory and Longinus face their greatest crisis yet.

Longinus is besides himself. Someone has bought all the black silk in Damsport, so he has to make do with grey. Unacceptable, given that an assassin in grey is as ridiculous as a bulldog in culottes.

Conspiracies don’t get more dire than this.

Of course, there’s also the fact that Rory’s oldest friend has been found drained of his blood. And that clues seem to indicate that Myran has returned just as an important diplomat visits Damsport.

Those clues take Rory and Longinus to a new brothel in town called the Black Orchid. That it’s decked in black silk proves that something nefarious is going on.
That its clientele tends to disappear is mere confirmation of that fact.

What is going on behind the brothel’s gilded doors? And more importantly, can Longinus get to their supply of silk?

Do you like quirky characters and unlikely friendships? Are you a fan of humour, wit, and rollicking adventure? Then you’ll love the Black Orchid because it sweeps you away into a fun and richly imagined world.

🔥Delve into The Black Orchid, book 2 of a complete 9 book series that’s packed with adventure, banter, and quirky characters, all set in a richly imagined tropical world.

🔥Ebooks are delivered instantly via Bookfunnel email to the email address provided at checkout.

 Paperback Edition 374 pages
Product Dimensions 5 x 8 x 0.8 inches (12.7 x 20.3 x 2.1cm)
Language English
Publication Date 9th April 2016
Publisher Celine Jeanjean
Series The Viper and the Urchin #2

Ebooks are delivered instantly via Bookfunnel email to the email address provided at checkout.

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The advantage of being a great man was that even when one had nothing to do, one could always contemplate one’s greatness. Since entering the Marchioness’ employ, Longinus had been given precisely nothing to do, and as a result he had had plenty of time to contemplate. A good thing there was so much material for him to work with.

All the same, as great a man as he was, he was beginning to grow tired of his own greatness (a sentiment Longinus never thought he would experience). So tonight’s excursion was coming just in time to relieve him of his boredom.

Longinus decanted the sleeping draught he had prepared into a small vial, smiling to himself. It had been a lot of fun planning for this evening. Scheming with Rory, exchanging notes, agreeing on secret signals, and all of it, of course, without Cruikshank getting wise. They’d spent far more time and energy planning the excursion than needed, but it was refreshing after all that inaction.

And now the time for plans was past.

Longinus had spent all day selecting his clothing for the evening: a crisp white shirt, a forest green silk cravat, and a burnt orange smoking jacket. The attire suggested nonchalance, a man planning to spend his evening writing poetry. Perfect. He had in fact just finished composing a new poem for Lady Martha — thereby lending veracity to his appearance. The smoking jacket had the added benefit of roomy pockets, so Cruikshank wouldn’t spot the vial.

For the first time since moving into Cruikshank’s workshop, Longinus wasn’t sorry to be leaving his quarters, his oasis of peace and elegance. His room was encased within a large wooden box that Cruikshank had built for him up on the suspended walkway that ran along the top of the warehouse walls — a similar setup to Cruikshank’s own quarters. He’d furnished his room with characteristic elegance and style, choosing a lovely jade and gold velvet to upholster the walls and lacquered wood for the furniture.

As Longinus stepped outside, the noise, the heat, the acrid smell of sweat and hot metal hit him like a brick to the face. He pulled out his handkerchief (matching his cravat — of course) and waved it in front of his face.

“Could you make your workshop smell any worse, Cruikshank?” he called as he made his way down the ladder.

“Is that a challenge?” replied the machinist.

Cruikshank cut an impressive figure, even with her short height. She was all muscle and sinew, the brown skin of her bare arms rippling as she moved, bringing to life the complex tattoo of cogs that covered her right arm. Her goggles were pushed up into her curly hair, the dark roots showing where she hadn’t yet dyed them the russet colour she favoured.

“Where are they — where are my snub-nose pliers?”

Cruikshank asked as she looked around the mess she called her workbench. (No matter what she claimed, Longinus failed to see where the ‘organised’ was in all that chaos.) “Lovey, I swear, if you’ve taken them…” Cruikshank threw Rory a warning look which the girl answered with an innocent look of her own, wide eyes peering out from beneath her mass of rope-like hair.

“Me? I’m hurt Cruikshank, really. I’m nothing but an innocent urchin, a reformed innocent urchin, too. My pickpocket days are over, I’m lost to thieving, I’m —”

“Yes, yes,” interrupted Cruikshank rooting through tools and machine parts. “Help me find them, then.”

Longinus knew full well that Rory had taken the pliers — she had been stealing and returning things every day for the last few weeks as a way to keep herself entertained.

The lack of work had left her as bored and restless as Longinus. Tonight though, the stealing was part of the plan to rile Cruikshank. When Cruikshank was cranky, she smoked. And when she smoked, she liked to have a coffee — or at least what she called coffee. Longinus wouldn’t befoul the word by associating it with the grim, mud-like concoction that Cruikshank drank.

Longinus moved over to the furnace, which was burning low. A metal kettle stood nearby, as did some mugs. He exchanged glances with Rory and touched his right ear. He was ready.

“Oh look, Cruikshank, is that them?” Rory pulled out a pair of pliers from beneath a piece of copper sheeting.

“What a coincidence that you should find them, lovey,” Cruikshank replied with no small amount of sarcasm. She snatched the pliers from Rory. Longinus took advantage of her attention being focused elsewhere to empty the sleeping draught into one of the mugs.

“Gods alive, you’re going to send me to an early grave,” Cruikshank said to Rory.

“Me? I’m here to help. We urchins are nothing but helpful types.”

Cruikshank grunted in reply and pulled out a cigar. She lit it and exhaled the smoke with a sigh of satisfaction.
“I’m going to make some coffee,” announced Longinus.

“Or at least I’m going to attempt to make something resembling coffee. Would anyone like a cup?”

“Me, please,” said Rory.

“Cruikshank?” asked Longinus.

“Sure. Thanks, lovey.” Cruikshank clamped her cigar between her teeth and examined the machine part she had been working on with a frown.

“I really can’t fathom why you won’t let me set up something more adequate,” Longinus said as he filled the kettle with water and set it to boil on the furnace. “Can this even be called coffee?”

“I’m not listening,” replied Cruikshank without looking at him.

“I mean, really. Tramps probably get better coffee than this. The furnace is just too hot. It burns the coffee beans, to say nothing of the quality—”

A loud clanging interrupted him. Cruikshank had switched on one of her infernal machines, filling the workshop with noise. She looked at him with a raised eyebrow. Longinus stopped talking, and she turned it off.
“I’m only trying to improve —”

The loud clanging interrupted him once more.
“Have I made my point?” asked Cruikshank, finger hovering over the switch that turned the machine on.

“Yes, but —”

The clanging drowned out the rest of his sentence.

“Fine,” he sniffed once silence had resumed. “I see that censorship is the way of things here.”

“It is when you’re trying to change the way I do things,” replied Cruikshank with a fierce smile.

Soon enough the coffee was ready. Longinus gave Rory her mug, and the one with the sleeping draught to Cruikshank. He had dosed the draught to take effect in half an hour. Any faster and he feared that Cruikshank would get suspicious.

The potion was strong enough that once she was asleep she wouldn’t stir. She certainly wouldn’t hear Rory and Longinus borrowing her steam-powered spider.
Longinus risked a glance towards it.

It hulked in the corner beneath a tarp, the end of its copper legs just visible. Rory caught his eye and gave him a small smile. Longinus knew she was as excited as he was. Soon they’d be riding across the Damsian rooftops.

It took twenty minutes before Cruikshank yawned. Immediately after, Rory yawned, as did Longinus.

“Gods, I’m knackered,” said Rory. “I might go lie down.”
She went to the cot that had been set up for her in a corner and pulled off the blanket, spreading it on the ground. It had taken Cruikshank and Longinus six weeks to coerce her into sleeping indoors, but the bed remained a sticking point. Rory refused it, saying it was too soft for her liking. Her opinion remained the same after Longinus had found her the hardest and lumpiest mattress in Damsport. At least it showed the girl had standards, although in typical Rory fashion they were the wrong way around.

Cruikshank yawned again. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me tonight, I’m really tired,” she said with a frown. “It’s not even close to midnight.”

I should hope not, I plan to be at my tailor’s by midnight.
“Well, I for one am going to retire,” said Longinus. “Good night, one and all.”

Rory stretched out on the ground, yawning loudly. Longinus tutted to himself when she didn’t cover her mouth. Rory’s actions set off another bout of yawning in Cruikshank — she didn’t cover her mouth either. Typical. Where did anyone get the impression that women formed the ‘fairer’ sex?

Cruikshank’s eyelids drooped.

“Why don’t you call it a day, Cruikshank,” said Rory. “You look like you’re about to fall asleep at your workbench.”
“I think I might, actually.”

She put out her cigar and followed Longinus up the ladder. Longinus went to his quarters and turned on the alchemical chandelier. He and Rory had agreed to wait thirty minutes after Cruikshank had gone to sleep to make sure she would really be dead to the world. It also gave him time to change.

Longinus walked to his wardrobe and riffled through his clothes. He should be dressing in black since he was going out at night, but of late there had been a penury of black silk in Damsport, so he had been forced to make do with browns and greys. Insufferable. His wardrobe had been burned with the rest of his belongings when Myran had torched his house, and he had had to re-furnish himself with a decent wardrobe.

Now all that he lacked were black silks, and tonight he would finally remedy this unfortunate shortcoming. His tailor should have received a shipment this morning, with part of it specially set aside for Longinus.

“Myran,” he whispered to himself as he selected a maroon dark enough to pass for black in the night. “Myran, Myran, Myran.”

He whispered his sister’s name to himself every day, to ensure the stutter didn’t return.

Once the thirty minutes had passed, he crept out. Somehow the stink of the workshop was more intense in the dark. Longinus grimaced. His attempts at introducing perfumes and incense to try and improve the smell of the place had been met with nothing but brutal rebuffs. As with all his helpful suggestions.

Before going down, Longinus went to Cruikshank’s quarters and listened at her door. He smiled when he heard a faint snoring. He climbed down the ladder and reached the ground to find Rory still stretched out on the floor and fast asleep. How can she sleep so well on the floor? Longinus shook her shoulder and she started, frowning.

“Oh,” she whispered, quickly getting to her feet. “Clearly I was tired! Everything ready?”

“Cruikshank snores, as it turns out.”

“Huh. Don’t surprise me, mind you.”

“Me neither.”

They made for the spider.

“I feel a bit guilty now,” Rory whispered. “Not to mention, if we get caught, we’ll be up to our eyeballs in shit.”

“No need to get scatological,” Longinus whispered back. “Anyway, I’ve dosed the sleeping draught perfectly. She won’t stir until morning. It will do her good, too. She said she’s not been sleeping well of late.”

“Don’t try and pretend that we’re doing this for the good of Cruikshank’s health.”

“I’m not, but if our borrowing her spider means she gets a good night sleep out of it, then so much the better.”
“Hmm, maybe.”

When Longinus threw the tarp off the spider, all of Rory’s reservations seemed to melt away, and she grinned.

“Ain’t she a beauty?” She stroked one of the legs. The spider was huge, tall as a man and large enough to seat two people. Its copper hull gleamed softly in the moonlight.

“Well, hop to it,” said Longinus. “I like to arrive at my tailor’s precisely at midnight.”

“Course you do.”

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Hi! I'm Celine

I write different flavours of fantasy with a twist, but always with one uniting thread: quirky, flawed characters and heart-warming found families.

My books span the sub-genres of steampunk (but set in a secondary, tropical world) urban fantasy (set in Asia and London) and gothic gaslamp fantasy.

I'm French, grew up in the UK, and for the last few years I've been living a life of nomadic adventure, exploring the world with my laptop as my constant companion. My adventures have been a great source of inspiration for my stories.

These days I'm trying to figure out where in the world I might stop and setup some bookshelves.

I love to hear from readers, so feel free to contact me at

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