Chapter One

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There once was a time before The Great Separation where very little distinction was made between the rich and the poor because no matter who you were, everyone lived 'grounded' on earth. This was before the King and his sons lived among the clouds; before rich barons lived in their own floating castles; and it was just before the hight of the steam-powered revolution. There were very few engineers within high society, and even fewer gadgteers. It was an era on the cusp of cultural change.

It was during this era that a brilliant engineering named Mastro Peto met his one true love. Together their story is incredible, an adventure of true love and great loss, but this is not about their story. This story is about their daughter, born on a cold winter's day, a rare beauty, with alabaster skin, ruby red lips and ebony black hair that shined as dark as the night sky.

The tiny bundle of joy was named 'Snow' after Rhiannon's grandmother. Even though their whole village celebrated Snow's arrival, it had been a long labour and a difficult birth, one that the beautiful Rhiannon never recovered from.

As the years went by, Mastor began to make a name for himself in the kingdom as an accomplished engineer. More consultant work came in for him, requests to design a new coal drilling platform; invent a new mechanical steam-powered tea cart for the societies; or to oversee modification designs for latest locomotive engine. He was eventually able to leave much of the essential plan designs to Snow while he began planning and designing for his own engineering work, a steam-powered floating platform. Before long it became all he ever worked on, giving much of his time and focus over to his masterpiece.

Always the bearer of intelligence and kindness, Snow excelled in everything she did and it wasn't long before she became a successful student, sharing her father's love of all things mechanical. They would always be found together, covered in grease, working in the basement workshop of their small town-house on the outskirts of the village. But more often than not, Snow was left to her own mechanical devices, until one day, an extraordinary thing occurred.

'Father, I'm home, and I have some wonderful news!' Snow moved quickly though the clutter in the hall, around the gadgets and spare parts in the living room and knocked on the workshop door. Leaving her satchel bag and work books on the side table, she quickly opened the door and swept her skirts aside to let Edison out before he jumped up on her, ruining another dress. Edison, part dog, part monstrosity, was a gift from her father as a I-know-you-are-grieving-and-a-dog-won't-make-up-for-the-loss-of-your-mother-but-I'm-trying gift. Normal parents gave their kids fancy gadgets that were becoming more and more popular. Her dad gave her a fur-ball that grew into a small horse.

Letting Edison lick her face, she scratched his ears and patted his side. 'I know, I know, I missed you too. Now off you go, and stay in the yard this time please,' she shoved him towards the back door.

Holding up a newsprint, she climbed down the basement steps and rounded the desk to find her dad hunched over his work. 'The Mirror, it featured my pictorial commentary I produced last month. I can't believe it!' she cried, as her straightened up.

His blank expression said it all.

'Father!' she exclaims as she swung herself around, landing on a pile of design plans and worksheets that was the arm chair, much to the consternation of her father.

It had been this way for as long a she could remember, her father completely focussed on his work, his designs, his plans. Mathematical equations, physical theorem, analytical data, all of it his life's focus. Oh, don't fret. He certainly loved and looked after his only daughter, but it often ended up with his daughter looking after him. If it weren't for her, he'd forget to sup.

'Well, if it is any consultation,' he said quietly, as if his own news was of no import, 'We finally won funding for my floating city designs.' He carefully extracted papers and journals from underneath his daughter, waiting for his words to finally filter through her busy thoughts. Then she jumped up, giving Peto an awful fright. Her squeal could be heard halfway to the Smithy's show across town.

Overwhelmed with delight, Snow hugged her father then proceeded ward of the sudden affections of a rather sloppy dog. She congratulated her father, peppering him with a dozen questions, and well, that was the catalyst for the biggest adventure of Snow's life.

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