Brad R. Cook
The Airdrainium Adventures

The Airdrainium Adventures

Scroll down for... more info on Steamtree, Discussion Questions, or to read the first chapter.

Anderax Grayvenhorn has spent his whole life traveling to the aircities in his parent’s dirigible, with one dream… 

to climb a real tree.


When his father, an aircity inspector, is sent to learn why these floating towers are starting to slip through the clouds, Anderax discovers the dark truth of their power source, and is pursued by the soul-stealing Archangels. As tensions rise, he finds the key to saving the aircities and the dragons is not a destiny of war, but to become one of the legendary Peacecrafters.

$10.99 paperback 
$2.99 ebook
But Steamtree by clicking on the buttons...
Both formats are illustrated! 

Interior art and cover illustration are by
Jennifer Stolzer Illustrations 

Paperback - 978-0-9996433-0-3

Ebook – 978-0-9996433-1-0
Discussion Questions for Steamtree

1 – How do the air-dwellers deal with running out of airdrainium ore? 

         How does that affect the world?


2 – How does Anderax deal with both sides to prevent war?


3 – What are the different personality traits of the cadets and how do they relate to the 



4 – Who is the Nightraven? Why do you think the Nightraven has been sneaking around?


5 – What do you think it would be like to live your whole life in the sky?


6 – Would you like to live in the clouds? Would you rather live in an airship, or on an aircity?


7 – What color dragon would you want to ride? What type of land would make that color? 

There are no wrong answers. Feel free to discuss the story, and I'd love to hear your thoughts. Let me know on Twitter, Facebook, or email.


The Airdrainium Adventures

Brad R. Cook



Chapter 1



I loved the smell and feel of wood, which was nothing like harsh, cold metal. Traders told tales of giants robed in leafy majesty, trees that stood taller than a building and thicker than a man. Aircities had shrubs they called trees, but the closest thing I’d ever touched were the squared off wooden boards and polished handrails on my parents’ airship.

Leaning against the smooth wooden railing, the wind whipped my hair and tugged on my lifeline. The thick rope stretching between my belt and the rail kept me from blowing away. The goggles over my eyes blocked the wind’s bitter sting and allowed me to see a rare sight – underneath the thick layer of puffy clouds covering the world. Today, patchy skies revealed an emerald sea of trees far below. I wanted nothing more than to climb one, or at least get close enough to see individual leaves.

I lived on the Caledonia. A dirigible or rigid airship, meaning it had a skeleton of metal ribbing covered in a tough canvas hull and armor plating over the important parts. Unlike a balloon, whose thin outer skin held nothing but hot air, the Caledonia had three decks, or floors, underneath several helium cells.

Segmented copper pipes wrapped around the aft section, or back half of the airship like the branches of a tree. These metal branches gripped the sides of the airship and cooled steam from the Airdrainium Boiler. Airdrainium Ore was the substance that made it possible to keep everything floating in the sky. Some pipes vented gases, while others acted as condensers and carried the heavy water infused with ore back to the engine room. I’d built a little fort in the branches of my steamtree. Okay, I had a lot of help, but this was my hideaway.

My fort had two parts. A tiny house made of reused wooden boards, scrap metal plating, and real glass portholes sat nestled among the pipes. With a sun deck laying on top of the pipes. 

Standing on the deck, staring at the world below, revealed different colored strips of land with a meandering stream that dazzled in the sunlight. “Looks like dirters,” I said aloud. That’s what aircity dwellers called those left behind.

 A roar, like a lion mixed with a trumpeting elephant, ripped through the noisy wind. I ran to the starboard side of the ship. Off in the distance, a column of thick, dark smoke rose through fluffy white clouds. My mind spun like a greasy gear trying to place what I’d heard. Certainly not thunder, or the Caledonia’s engines. Fear mixed with my racing heart as I gripped the railing even tighter.

I twisted the only brass fixture holding the railing to the sundeck, and a board in the floor popped up to reveal a secret hiding spot. Several trinkets lay inside – my collection of pop bottle caps, a magnifying lens, and my compass. I pushed those aside and grabbed the monoscope Captain Campbell gave me last year for my birthday.

Extending the brass tube, I raised the eyepiece to my goggles. With a few twists, I focused the lens on the thick black smoke. The churning column led down to a stone building atop a cliff with flames rising from the roof. Three ironclad zeppelins, twice the size of the Caledonia and armed with rows of cannons, hovered above the fire.

A deep voice echoed from below. “Master Greyvenhorn, are you anchored? The wind is wobblesmockin’ today.”

“Yes, Rohl,” I said, lowering the monoscope. On the catwalk below, a man with a large belly and a big smile, waved. Along with a mom and a dad, I also had twelve crewmen who looked after me. I never minded. It meant fourteen presents on my birthday.

“Good,” he said, and waved for me to come down. “Time to head inside.” He scanned the skies and stared into the thick clouds, before turning back to me. Rohl cupped his hands around his mouth, “Your mother calls for you.”

“I’ll be right down.” I knew I should tell her about the roar, so she could inform the captain. First, I needed to know I wasn’t day dreaming. Again. I pointed toward the column of smoke. “Do you see it? I heard something, too.”

A roar echoed in the distance. I peered through the lens. A dark shadow darted through the clouds. A flash drew my focus downward as a flaming war zeppelin plummeted from the sky and crashed into the cliff face. Moving the monoscope around, I saw only clouds and smoke. My heart sank. Those poor airmen.

 One more time, I searched for whatever creature roared but didn’t see anything. Something was out there, and I only had to find it. Inside the airship, my parents may not have heard the roar. Folding down the door created a short ladder from the sundeck into my steamtree fort. I unhooked my lifeline and stepped inside. Closing the door behind me silenced the noisy wind.

I tossed the monoscope into a canvas hammock that stretched from one wall to the other. A small bench and two portholes sat on the port side. I didn’t have much furniture. My mom wouldn’t let me live in my steamtree. I did have a great view of the sky and the Caledonia’s catwalks. I lifted the elaborate brass hatch in the center of the floor. One of the mechanics made it. I climbed down onto a platform, closed the hatch, and pulled the key out of the center. Not a regular key, but a sprocket with missing teeth.

I slipped the key into my jacket pocket. A long, thin pipe stretched to the deck below. I grabbed hold, wrapped my legs around, and slid down. With a clatter, I landed on the grating below. The diamond-cut metal planks allowed rain and wind to pass through, and rattled as I ran off to find my parents.   

Rohl held out his palm. “Five up-high.”

I slapped his hand and ran toward the main hatch. “Did you see the smoke?”

He scratched his scraggily beard but kept watching the sky. “The Fleet must be dealing with dirters.”

“There was something else in the clouds.” I grabbed the handle and yanked up to open the hatch. “I gotta tell my parents.”

 “Don’t worry; the captain will stay clear of those nasty plaguers.” Rohl shaded his eyes with his hand to search the sky. “Get inside, now. I don’t like that sound.

 “Will do.” I opened the door. “I think it was a dragon.”

“Be quick about it,” Rohl half-chuckled. “Never keep a lady waiting, especially your mother.”

As I ran inside, the wind whipped my jacket against my back, and pushed me into Dogger, the head mechanic. A black cloud of soot enveloped us, but quickly blew away.

“Door,” Dogger said as he pointed over my head.

“But I have to tell my parents about the...”


“I was,” I groaned. Struggling against the wind, I slammed the heavy door shut and it echoed through the corridor. My hands strained as I pushed the handle down into place. Dogger reached around me, but I quickly fired back, “I got it.”

Dogger turned and grabbed a large wrench sticking off one of the interior pipes. Once the hatch was sealed, I waved, and ran off to find my mom.

The hallway ended at a bolted hatch with a sign overhead that read – Helium Chamber. I opened the door, and walked onto the long catwalks crossing through the center of the large open chamber. Above me, seven helium cells hung from the rafters, their seams strained to the point of bursting. They along with the Airdrainium ore, kept this craft in the sky. The airship’s outer skin, a thick treated canvas, buffeted against the metal ribbing. The hum of the engine mixed with the whirring wind outside and echoed through the vast chamber, making this spot the noisiest place on the whole airship. I darted along the catwalk, swinging forward on the railing.  

Spinning the metal handle, I yanked open the hatch to the bow section, or front half of the ship, where my family lived. Quickly stepping inside, I shut the door, silencing the noises behind me. The cold metal planking disappeared behind beautiful rugs, painted walls, and real furniture. The living room had a large circular window on the starboard side, but I headed to my mother’s workshop on the port side.

I stopped in front of her door, whipped off my goggles, and ran fingers through my hair like a comb, trying to smooth out every crazy strand. A soft but stern voice within said, “Anderax Grayvenhorn, enter this room. Immediately.”

“Uh-oh, she used my first and last name, I’m in trouble.” Not like when I left my dad’s papers on the air dock––then she’d used all three of my names––but still, two names couldn’t be good.

Running back to my steamtree sounded like a good plan, but she already knew I was here. If I did, I’d be in so much trouble she might put a Mister in front of all three names. I think that’s why we have multiple names, so we know how much trouble we’re in.

Snagging the door handle, I knew trouble would fade once she knew what I saw. “Coming.”

I opened the door. My mom stood next to a dress form draped with cloth. She eyed me, her mouth squished to one side with pins held between her teeth. “Why are you sooty?”

“Must be from running into Dogger.”

She made a swirling motion with her hand. “Step back. No dirty hands near Lady Skylark’s dress.” I backed into the living room. She stepped out and snagged my jacket’s collar before I reached the couch. “Not so fast. Why are you in such a rush?”

“The sky. I saw something in the sky.”

“Oh really? And what did you see?” She set the pins and swatch of cloth on her table and closed the door to her workshop. Spinning me around, she brushed dust from my shoulder.

“A dragon, I think. I heard a roar.”

She tensed, then eased. “Are you certain it wasn’t distant thunder?”

“Yeah, I saw fire and smoke.”

“What?!” My mother gripped my shoulders. “What did you see?”

“Black smoke rising from the ground, and I heard a roar.”

The seriousness of her eyes made me wonder if I’d said something wrong.

My father walked out of his office and shook his head. “He didn’t actually see anything, probably just a trick of the wind.”

I shrugged. “Something took out that airship.”

My mother and father eyed each other.

“To be safe.” Her smile faded. “Why don’t you stay inside until we get to the aircity.”

I hope you enjoyed the first chapter of Steamtree... the rest only gets better!