Khatire reached out to grab the child, who twitched with dreaming, and froze. It was a girl, almost four. They were all brothers and sisters, all bearing mark of their father’s features. A lump, hard and stinging, grew in Khatire’s chest. There were so many! She could only save one.
A gifted concubine must flee her emperor, but not without her infant son.
"a fine story." —Rich Horton, Locus
Honorable Mention, Year's Best SF 26, ed. Gardner Dozois
Million Writers Award Notable Stories of 2008
His body lengthened, his worn leather footings bursting as his legs, now fused, spiraled behind, scaled and glistening black. Even when the foul thing had fully turned, its hands still grasped at the air while the twisted mouth shrieked fearful things. It would have seemed only a beast, powerful and deadly, were it not for those hands and eyes, so like a man’s but not, a living sacrilege.
Would this querulous magician's insinuations distract my master from slaying our vile prey?
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She was glad of the darkness, because it meant the two men could not see her tremble.
The mountain was listening very closely, watching the wind blow faint tendrils of her hair, catching the warmth of her breath.