Issues
Issue #321
Size / Zoom

Featuring new cover art: “Spirit Village” by Tyler Edlin.

Bast and Her Young

She was different. She was distinguished by the oracles. She spoke to the gods, who descended on her in disorienting, frightening fits that made her vision blank out and caused her to fall down. As God’s Wife of Amun she had been closer to the gods than any man on earth. Except for the pharaoh. Now she would be that, too.

Her father’s great dynasty, sacred to Amun and guided by the hand of the gods, stood shakily on those scrawny legs.
Daughters With Bloody Teeth

I... no, we walk through the forest. We are crowded in this body and made clumsy. And the whispering voice that drives me, that makes us we, has only disdain for my efforts. I was a soft belly waiting for teeth before, and that is what I still am, sharing sharp white teeth or no.

This body is tired and hungry. But the beating of a strange heart keeps me awake.
From the Archives:
Frozen Meadow, Shining Sun
My sister has been missing three days when the fox appears.
Issue #320
Size / Zoom

Featuring two podcast episodes and two giveaways for copies of the new epic fantasy novel The Mask of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick (a joint pen name of BCS authors Marie Brennan and Alyc Helms), set in the same world as “As Tight as Any Knot.”

As Tight as Any Knot

Ondrakja chose her approach and her moment with care. A Vraszenian-style sash belt and shoulder-buttoned blouse like the girl’s, though less tattered—but not too fine, either. Finery in Lacewater usually meant an Upper Bank cuff come to play games among the river rats, or a madam. And though a few touches of makeup could shift her appearance more toward either Vraszenian or Liganti, she chose to leave her mixed ancestry on display. Under the grime, the girl had more than a hint of Liganti in her features; she might respond better to someone who looked like her.

Ondrakja chose her approach and her moment with care.
Colombina

How can you hide behind a small piece of silk and lace that barely covers a third of your face? But you have me in your pocket, you brought me here, and now you take me out and study me. Put me on, girl, you’ve nothing to lose. Let me touch your smooth brow; your wet, flushed cheeks. Tie that ribbon behind your head, let me become a part of you. It feels reassuring to wear me, doesn’t it?

Put me on, girl, you’ve nothing to lose.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
As Tight as Any Knot

Podcast: Download (Duration: 36:05 — 24.79MB)
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Podcasts | RSS | More

Ondrakja chose her approach and her moment with care.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Colombina

Podcast: Download (Duration: 26:43 — 18.35MB)
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Podcasts | RSS | More

Put me on, girl, you’ve nothing to lose.
From the Archives:
The Şiret Mask
Dangling from a rope two hundred feet above the rooftops of Râu Tare, I find myself questioning the decisions that have led me to this point.
Issue #319
Size / Zoom
And The Ones Who Walk In

“Why put up with ugly and cruel? Why not try to make things better? With our own work, our own suffering, to pay our own way in the universe?” It was the argument Crocus had had with her mother since she turned thirteen. Now that argument was over. She’d never have it with her mother again. And now she could cry, small angry tears.

At sunset on the third day, the girl reached the edge of the blessed city’s hinterlands.
The City Still Dreams of Her Name

My substance is much declined, yet on occasion I draw humans who can hear echoes of what I once was. They climb the winding steps up my pagodas, descend deep into the bowels beneath my palaces, venture between the serpentine stacks of my high-spired libraries. The human soul yearns for cities, even if they do not realize it, and their hearts revolve toward our kind as flowers turn toward the sun. This is true even for cities whose names—like mine—have been swallowed up by catastrophe and oblivion.

This is true even for cities whose names—like mine—have been swallowed up by catastrophe and oblivion.
From the Archives:
Walking Out
For a second or two Creeper just strained against our hold, pale eyes locked and empty on the horizon.
Issue #318
Size / Zoom
The Garden Where No One Ever Goes

My jug is still dry. My magic has always been difficult, complicated, messy. In my mother's parlor, all my will can barely manage a droplet. Even by the banks of the sacred Cantara, I gave up and drew my water with a bucket. But in the garden, when I'm with you, magic is so simple that it seems to happen on its own.

I meet you in the middle of the night in the garden where no one goes. 
After Me, The Flood

My city trembled and screamed as the waves battered the granite. The wall still held when the storm waned, but the sea-quake had frightened us all. That night, as soon as my hands stopped shaking, I wrote a letter to my father, asking him to send a magician. I sealed it with the imprint of my thumb in the warm wax; he always said that a caress, even at a remove, was better than a cold signet.

I was still not my mother. But all I could hear now was the sea, whispering in a rhythm that matched my heartbeat and slid under my teeth.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Garden Where No One Ever Goes

Podcast: Download (Duration: 14:22 — 9.87MB)
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Podcasts | RSS | More

I meet you in the middle of the night in the garden where no one goes. 
From the Archives:
Two Bodies in Basting Stitch
Sere wouldn’t be able to send letters.
Issue #317
Size / Zoom

Featuring new cover art: “Sunset in the Village” by Avant Choi.

The Science and Artistry of Snake Oil Salesmanship

The jail cell’s not the least comfortable place Al’s slept. There’s a cot and a blanket and a chamber pot. Could be worse. The sheriff must be a decent enough sort, if a tad suspicious for a snake oil salesman’s liking. Al’s not concerned, though. The sheriff may not have sampled the elixir, but near enough everyone else in town did. Come morning, the townsfolk will all be better than ever. If the sheriff refuses to let Al go, they’ll push him to do the right thing.

If there’s one thing that Aloysius has learned over his years selling snake oil: the stuff's a damn sight easier to sell when it actually works.
A Feast from Tile and Stone

Two days ago, Gastel had walked through the floor plan of the Last Pudding with his sous chef, who was working architect and chief mason. There was a terrible friction, Gastel knew, any time you dragged something out of a dream and into mortal life. Things ruptured. Things were scraped away. One felt terribly small, living for so long with a vision and finally settling for an earthbound knockoff. He had carried this vision longer than any other. With three slow breaths, he wished it farewell. He turned the corner into the great hall.

The soup, the glaze, the labyrinth— All around Chef Gastel Dillegrout, cooks shouted, pots clattered, kindling crackled in ovens. The soup, the glaze, the labyrinth—
From the Archives:
The War of Light and Shadow, in Five Dishes
(I like to pause here too, to let a different note creep into my voice, now that we have laughed, now that we have agreed to forget. This is not only a story.)
Issue #316
Size / Zoom
The Gwyddien and the Raven Fiend

“Enough!” Llewyn shut his eyes. When he opened them the veil returned, bathing the world again in mortal normalcy. He stared at the space above the altar, where he knew the raven fiend still crouched, hidden from him now. Still watching him. Old and powerful enough, he hoped, to consider him little threat.

Boundaries he had been created to defend, long ago, on a dark night buried in cold earth, with ghostwood and silver biting his flesh...
A Land of Blood and Snow

While we waited for the hourglass, the blacksmith dug a line in the snow with the heel of his boot. This would be the starting point. Until the final grain of sand fell to the bottom, the prince could not cross it. Some of the older boys had once told me that the sand inside was the long dead ashes of Dracula himself, but I don’t know if I truly believe them.

There is no safety for us anymore in the waxing and waning of the moon.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
A Land of Blood and Snow

Podcast: Download (Duration: 29:59 — 20.59MB)
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Podcasts | RSS | More

There is no safety for us anymore in the waxing and waning of the moon.
From the Archives:
Father’s Kill
I lock both Father and the night away.
Issue #315
Size / Zoom
Girls with Needles and Frost

That I want her to come back. That I'm not sure her contacts will trust me. That I'm not able to balance being me and being an informant for Maksim and not telling Elzbet anything and sewing violet stars and leading a silent revolution. That I'm not sure I can see it through to the end alone. That all of this may be the price that the dragon demands, even if it isn't here yet and may never come. That maybe the only way forward is to let the pressure chew you up until there's nothing left, and that's how you win.

We stitch the violet stars in secret.
Degeneration

I had to remonstrate with the Artisans over the coffin. They wanted to apply only four layers of lacquer, arguing with great impudence that it would suffice. I informed them with no uncertain terms that, though the Barbarians were at the gate, this was no license to degenerate to the level of savages ourselves. Seven coats of lacquer should be considered a bare minimum, and for the quality of wood I have supplied and the cost of the preparations, some might consider seven coats sparing. I have started to regret engaging them.

But all too soon the mocking voice of reason intruded. It was a trap, I realised.
From the Archives:
Every Tiny Tooth and Claw (or: Letters from the First Month of the New Directorate)
I don't want to make all our letters about shrews, love, but... I've attached a table I'd like to see filled out with different properties of the shrews and their venom. Thank you!
Issue #314
Size / Zoom
Eyetooth

Gaunt folded her arms and studied Bone in partial jest, but only partial. “I will tell you a thing, Imago. The more fully you live, the more ridicule you get... and the more admirers too. There are those who long to become big by knocking others down. But there are those who long to grow. By growing yourself, you help them. What if you are not a 'thief' but a quick-thinking man who steals at times—but at other times also saves? What if the second quality defined you and not the first?”

“You think this is a trap?” Bone said. “Could the cackling skull have steered us wrong?”
The Drowned God’s Heresy

Gorel could smell the sea. It was always there, the water like a black mirror, upon which glided the enormous black ships with the seven-pointed star on their hulls. From time to time spells crackled in the air above the port. Wind-mages and speakers-to-whales and astrologer-navigators and sun-talkers and battle-sorcerers with the power to level whole cities. Goliris’s fleets sailed across the World and brought the civilising influence of the empire to its furthest reaches. They came back laden with the World’s goods; with all the riches the World had to offer.

Now, forever exiled, he sought his home, his birth right, his throne. He would not rest until he found it.
From the Archives:
The Delusive Cartographer
“Between you and I, the administrative policies of this prison are rather a mess.”
Issue #313, Twelfth Anniversary Double-Issue
Size / Zoom

A double-issue to celebrate our twelfth anniversary, with two bonus stories, a bonus podcast episode, and new cover art: Colossus by Vladimir Manyukhin.

Many Mansions

There's no higher incidence of witchcraft in the gentry, and so the oppressed-and-victimised theory doesn't convince me. Myself, I figure that anyone, man or woman, who has the talent but isn't identified and whisked off to the Studium at age ten to be taught polite behaviour would naturally use such powers to bully and torment others because that's human nature for you. Let any man pick up a stick and he'll use it to hit someone else, unless the other man's got a stick too.

My colleagues and I, however, are civilised, educated men.
A Minor Exorcism

I couldn’t blame Kenji for that. The weight of my current position could only be avoided temporarily, not put aside at will. I was now the head of my own clan and responsible for a vast estate. My life was no longer solely my own, and in truth I would not have changed that fact for the world, but sometimes it was pleasant, for a little while, to pretend otherwise.

A more tunnel-like hole had been dug into some of the graves, possibly to test them for the freshness of the corpses.
The Heart That Saves You May Be Your Own

You eat and you eat, too hungered to fuss over the blood scent in your nose. Though what’s a little blood between you and the prairie? Blood is the binding between hunting and womanhood, and yet, and yet, the dress the virgin bride wears is white, no matter how much she hunts or menstruates. White dresses are impossible to keep clean on the prairie. White dresses lie.

You carry a rifle and a dream of a white dress. You sleep under the stars. You hunt.
A Tally of What Remains

They died, or they didn’t, and Helena burned them or handed their things back before they headed down the road to fight for a place among the farmsteads and ranches that didn’t want the cities’ survivors. Her oldest brother and sister-in-law, they’d been good at celebrating the small victories, but she didn’t have the knack.

They died, or they didn’t, and Helena burned them or handed their things back before they headed down the road.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
A Minor Exorcism

Podcast: Download (Duration: 39:23 — 27.05MB)
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Podcasts | RSS | More

A more tunnel-like hole had been dug into some of the graves, possibly to test them for the freshness of the corpses.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Heart That Saves You May Be Your Own

Podcast: Download (Duration: 31:46 — 21.82MB)
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Podcasts | RSS | More

You carry a rifle and a dream of a white dress. You sleep under the stars. You hunt.
From the Archives:
Told By An Idiot
He put his head on one side and thought for a moment. Rather, he acted thought; I wouldn't have given him a job.
text