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BLADE AND BRANCH AND STONE

BLADE AND BRANCH AND STONE, by Spencer Ellsworth: Lassan   The trees were screaming. Mortars shattered white wood that bled golden sap. The Fei looked down from the ridge with cold blue eyes, raised their muskets and hailed lead onto the human lines. Blood blossomed on white shirts around Lassan, under black-coated Imperial jackets. “Form […]

THE GOOSE AND CRADLE

THE GOOSE AND CRADLE, by David Austin: Fewer and fewer people were stopping by the Goose and Cradle.  Everyone that had anyone was at home holding them close, waiting for the walls to crumble.  Mirsare was under siege, and massive chunks of rock rained steadily down.  The walls were strong; the boys could hold them […]

THE PRINCESS TRAP

THE PRINCESS TRAP, by Peter Darbyshire: Saleema was an orphaned sheepherder until her seventeenth year, when a talking dragon landed in the mountain meadow one summer day and ate all her sheep. Then Saleema was just an orphan. Saleema, however, liked to imagine herself not as a mere orphan, or even an orphan sheepherder, but […]

QUEEN OF THE DESERT

QUEEN OF THE DESERT, by Alex Marshall: Throughout the endless afternoon he walked the trackless waste.  With his coat held above to shield him from the sun’s brutal rays, Derwent toiled — his shadow and his hopes stretching to the empty distance. Near sunset, dark clouds boiled up overhead and rain fell briefly but the […]

THE WORSHIP OF THE LORD OF THE ESTUARY AND THE WAGES OF HEROISM

THE WORSHIP OF THE LORD OF THE ESTUARY AND THE WAGES OF HEROISM, by James Frederick William Rowe: It came from the sea, a thing of cold, slime, and teeth. Declaring its presence through murder, it took the lives of three men fishing on the open water before it claimed as its home the estuary […]

DEATH AT THE PASS

DEATH AT THE PASS, by Michael R. Fletcher: That this foul deed shall smell above the earth With carrion men, groaning for burial. -Shakespeare, Julius Caesar Somewhere there was a Necromancer. Of that there could be no doubt. Brushing a thousand years of dirt and rot from his robes, Khraen marvelled at how well preserved […]

THE DOME OF FLORENCE, PART II

DOME OF FLORENCE, PART II, by Richard Marsden: Mahir continued to berate Filippo, both in heavily accented Italian and in his own dialect as well as a few choice curses from long-dead languages as they meandered through the winding streets of the city. Whereas Mahir had followed Filippo into Cosimo’s lair, head downcast, now their positions […]

DEMON-FANG

DEMON-FANG, by R. Michael Burns: Having no means of crossing this life, I make swordsmanship my hiding place. –Yagyū Muneyoshi, Heihō Kaden Sho, 17th Century   Somewhere in the deep of night, the Fang whispered, and Shadows stirred.  The samurai Hokagé — Shadows-from-Firelight — opened his eyes on darkness, bitter voices crawling over him like […]

OF CASTING PITS AND CAUSTIC SALTS

OF CASTING PITS AND CAUSTIC SALTS, by Scott  H. Andrews: Turusha squeezed the draft-scarab’s reins and fought the urge to scrape her itching wrists against the seat of the cart.  The line of creaking wagons stretched to the dusty city gate, yoked beetles lumbering forward, the ammonia-and-sugar scent fuming from their glistening carapaces.  Andar, seated […]

DEMON SONG

DEMON SONG, by A. R. Williams: Kenshin Nobuyashi knew the ring was important, but he could not remember why. An onyx stone formed its crest, and within that stone a diamond caught the disappearing light from the sun. The reflection swirled in shadow and light the longer he gazed at it. “It’s just a ring,” […]

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