The first of two special double-issues for the month of our tenth anniversary, featuring four stories, a guest-narrated podcast, new cover art “King of Ruins” by Mats Minnhagen, and a giveaway for a signed Caroline M. Yoachim short fiction collection.
Out the cat door I found two hellsnouts remaining below the tower, hopeful of a good rending. I puzzled again as to who—or what—had made the beasts, and why they increasingly threatened our city. Archaeopolis was older than recorded history, and the underground coughed up ancient horrors the way other soil might reveal arrowheads or potshards. But of late, creatures stalked the open air that had no counterpart in story or scroll. Even a black cat might be mildly concerned.
Samariel took in a deep, trembling breath. Asmodeus was watching him, with that distant, amused curiosity, the sketch lightly resting in the palm of his hand. That smell came again, orange blossom, with something else, something tangier and more acidic. Lemon; lime?
“Let me go, Poppa,” I said. "I'll watch out for our interests." I wouldn’t say more. Brac said nothing, but he smiled for the first time. He had dimples, like you do, child. And that was my second mistake, noticing them. For Father's eyes narrowed further.
I looked at them each. Hard, well-blooded men and women: those wearing Talgrun’s iron yoke, eager to break it, and those with faces tattooed as mine was with the seventeenth knot, the sign of our holding. The fiercest of the holdings, the strongest. We who had lifted our beam half a league from the narrow place, unknowing; who had been harried by the gray more than any other holding and never broken.
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There are some in Quadril who will call that my first mistake. They'd be wrong, my child.
“If this is meant to deter me,” Persimmon Gaunt said, clutching her rope beneath Bone, “I’m deterred.”