Issues from 2019
Issue #286
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The Silent Flowers of the Magician’s Garden

Something hardened in my world, the way it did every time my father told me I had to become a man and that being a man meant being brave. As something acquired another layer of earth crust, fossilizing more completely inside me, something else emerged from its cocoon like a late summer moth, soft and fragile, dancing around flames.

Something hardened in my world, the way it did every time my father told me that being a man meant being brave.
Witch’s Road

The bees laughed with their witch, a flurrying spiral above her head, spinning the shadows of the room like a top, and Catalina flinched. She didn’t look away, even as the Witch spoke, and those eyes showed her herself, and other things.

The forest gave Catalina the road; for it was not a sleeping forest.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Silent Flowers of the Magician’s Garden
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Something hardened in my world, the way it did every time my father told me that being a man meant being brave.
From the Archives:
Longsleeves
Across from her, the antlered man pointed at the water. “Best you look.”
Issue #285
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A Song for the Leadwood Tree

Hilaj fears victory today, Nehan knows, as much as she fears defeat. The Buskruten terms would leave the Watuk a corner of their nation, a fragment of their former glory. Copper, tin, and silver mines would fall within the borders the Buskruten viceroys had drawn for themselves. With a stroke of a pen, Nehan might guarantee today that no more lives would be lost. With the same swift strike of ink, a proud people of traders would become beggars.

The morning of her last day as queen, Nehan's mouth begins to bleed before her attendants finish braiding her hair.
The Sweetest Fruit of Summer

She took the seeds he counted out, five this time, into her hand and ate them all together. The fire did not know words, so she did not use them. She tried to fix in her mind with the same flashes it had shown her last time. She thought of arrows flying, leaping wolves, a hand pulling Hadi from the saddle, the tent around them burning. The vision burst on her tongue, sweet, tart, and peppered.

The memory of the burning fruit stuck to her tongue like tar.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
A Song for the Leadwood Tree
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 38:05 — 26.15MB)
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The morning of her last day as queen, Nehan's mouth begins to bleed before her attendants finish braiding her hair.
From the Archives:
Kingspeaker
She is the voice of the king, until he cannot speak for himself.
Issue #284
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The Mirror Dialogues

I had planned a lesson on the suffering of the poor, of avarice and desperation, each a critical section for any mirror yet topics of which my charge seemed immune. But there comes a time for all mirror aides to abandon our maps, traditions, and patterns, and create one mirror anew. As my mentor told me, “whether you like it or not, your charge has a hand in the direction of your learning.”

I had planned a lesson on the suffering of the poor, of avarice and desperation, each a critical section for any mirror.
Elegy of a Lanthornist

The subsequent pages in Hayes-Reyna’s journal contain transcriptions of three selections from the Elegy (two prose passages and a fragment of a ballad) as well as her annotations. Her own remarks are strange but may be of potential scholarly interest, as they speak to her ever-evolving understanding of the bee as the Lantern Poet’s symbol.

Hayes-Reyna’s journal may come across as an odd specimen to some.
From the Archives:
On the Origin of Song
Note: Doyen-Générale, enclosed is the full catalogue of documents pertaining to the individual known as Ciallah Daroun, as per your request.
Issue #283
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The Iron Eels

“Of course, sir,” I said automatically, my mouth forming the words as though I were back on the front, back in uniform, at war. I was not. This was my home, these my people—my wife, my daughter. I was no longer a soldier. But one does not say no to a magiteknician. Especially not one on edge, already struck by a tainted man; his eyes sunken but bright with paranoia.

The dangers my comrades and I had faced in assembling and disassembling the arcane engines of the Magiteknique were the result. Explosions. Unnatural sicknesses. Twistings of organ and bone. Wild magic.
That August Song

At dawn, the might of Yneska mobilizes. Twenty vanquishers, thirty-nine pilots. The vanquishers are at their full height, in their various shapes. Some are draped in elongated eyes down their throats and spines; others have slit pupils clustered on their temples. Six-limbed, four-limbed, eight-limbed. As much variation between them as there is between their pilots, who stand in their carapace armor, sleek and jointed.

Sanenya studies the planes of the pilot-priest's face, this conquering creature, this realization of hypotheses and endless toil.
From the Archives:
The Motor, the Mirror, the Mind
Whether we see visions in mirrors or hear voices in warbling electrical static, we must always interpret, extrapolate, confabulate.
Issue #282
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Gert of the Hundred

More clawed paws swam before her, jutting from his shirtsleeves, and when they laid themselves on her face they were cold and wet like the corpses had been, everything cold and wet and smelling of death. She raised her eyes and stared into the swollen black ones bulging from the boy’s face. Daughter, you’ve returned at last, he repeated in a mouth stuffed with chelicerae, his face glowing with moonlight. Sooner or later, we all come back.

She raised her eyes and stared into the swollen black ones bulging from the boy’s face.
Faêl

Sùr knelt and lifted her out of the coffin, feeling the pain lance through his spine as he looked down at his wife. She was stiff, a statue of hard crystalline salt, frozen in the position she had been when she died. Her eyes that had been gold in life were white and unblinking and unseeing in death. But her lips were curled in a smile. A true smile, not the grimace they were forced to wear to keep the pain at bay. In the moment of her death, finally, finally, she had known true peace.

The ache in Sùr's bones told him he was human again.
From the Archives:
Suddenwall
In the amnesty-city of Vannat, Aln Panette has let guilt go.
Issue #281
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Featuring new cover art: “Crimson River” by Artur Zima.

What the River Brings, and What It Takes Away

It was only months after she'd moved to the cabin, months of teeth cracking on stone, that she thought the witch may have meant her harm. Not a conspiracy between women, one free thanks to age, the other free thanks to cunning and constitution, but a punishment intended to ruin her. And yet Sapo kept at it, kept eating the mountain, stone by stone by stone, because she feared that if she didn't, it would come, and she didn't want it.

The fawn is still in its mother's belly. Sapo kneels by the doe and feels for the outlines of the little one with her fingers. A gasp escapes her when it moves under the dead doe's skin.
Across the Bough Bridge

She kept her head up until she'd exited the shop. Then she staggered sideways into the wall outside. The pair of marbles glinted in the palm of her good hand. She was a little stunned to be holding her prize at all; she stared at them as if somewhere in their milky depths the secrets of the universe might reside. Perhaps it was merely the dizzying pain, but she felt almost as if they stared back.

He was kind enough to wrap the wound for her too, before he turned away to bury her severed finger in one of his little pots.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
What the River Brings, and What It Takes Away
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 17:43 — 12.17MB)
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The fawn is still in its mother's belly. Sapo kneels by the doe and feels for the outlines of the little one with her fingers. A gasp escapes her when it moves under the dead doe's skin.
From the Archives:
Speak Easy, Suicide Selkies
They say that when you go to the sky-reflected ocean and strip yourself as bare as the day you were born, the water will take you in.
Issue #280
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A Handful of Sky

In the darkness of the shop, the unfurled fabric of the sky glowed too brightly to look at directly. She had to put her monocle’s sun lens down whenever she got close to it. When her gloved fingers slid over it she had no doubt that it was the smoothest surface she’d ever touched.

Praying she still had the skill to do it, if indeed anyone alive could do it: gather, and sew, four square yards of sky.
Black, Like Earth

I want to argue with the homeowner, but I know it will get me nowhere. Instead I close my fist around the hard stones he gave me and walk away. ‘Be thankful the ingrates paid at all,’ Aksá would say. Usha always underpaid us. Aksá said I would get used to it, but I have been working two summers now and still I am angry. I have been working two summers now and I am more angry than ever.

“You most cover it up,” Aksá says, startling me. They hand me long strips of torn fabric. “Let no one know.”
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Black, Like Earth
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 26:43 — 18.35MB)
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“You most cover it up,” Aksá says, startling me. They hand me long strips of torn fabric. “Let no one know.”
From the Archives:
The Night Bazaar for Women Becoming Reptiles
One, two, three eggs into her mouth, one sharp bite, and the clear, viscous glair ran down her throat.
Issue #279
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Revival

The preacher burns too bright to look at, bright as summer sun spearing the tin-framed mirror in Tía’s parlor, and Carmen cowers before his gaze, as she does before all mirrors, feeling the shadows shrink around her, every supplicant incited. And though she came here seduced by the same promises, Carmen panics, resists the tide, fights not to join the spittle-flecked front of the crowd. Too like teetering on a cliff’s edge, too great the specter of wish fulfilled or failed.

If she were darker brown, might she disappear into the shadows altogether?
Silver Springs

Would I give three mermaids one coin apiece, or would one mermaid take all three? I shucked my gloves, holding the silver against bare skin. The edge of the first coin bit into the side of my thumb, and I tried to picture the creature that would take it in exchange for the burden of whatever gangrenous rot of which I wished to be relieved. A girl like myself, I decided, but with no heart of her own and a fishtail instead of legs. A girl who could do as she pleased.

A girl like myself, I decided, but with no heart of her own and a fishtail instead of legs. A girl who could do as she pleased.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Revival
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 43:10 — 29.65MB)
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If she were darker brown, might she disappear into the shadows altogether?
From the Archives:
The Lighthouse Keepers
It was a frightening, lovely thing; the way the great lens refracted the firelight and sent it out over the water.
Issue #278
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Featuring new cover art: “Temple Ravine” by Victoriya Shamykina.

The Two-Bullet War

Mila kept herself still like a statue, like the weapon she was supposed to be, even though inside she was screaming no, I will not, you can’t just ask me to do that, the law is the law. Weapons did not have choices, did not speak aside from the roar of a spark against gunpowder or the click of a trigger, but she had to stop this before it ruined everything.

Mila kept herself still like a statue, like the weapon she was supposed to be, even though inside she was screaming no, I will not, you can’t just ask me to do that.
Abacus of Ether

My glamour, I know, masks expressions of exasperation. Once I had loved this part of the job, calculating possible returns on risk. But that had been before the interminable waste of the Grass War and the long train of young women and men in front of my desk with the trinkets they thought would give them a chance of not becoming food for crows in a field somewhere.

But that had been before the interminable waste of the Grass War and the long train of young women and men in front of my desk with the trinkets they thought would give them a chance of not becoming food for crows in a field somewhere.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Two-Bullet War
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 36:52 — 25.32MB)
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Mila kept herself still like a statue, like the weapon she was supposed to be, even though inside she was screaming no, I will not, you can’t just ask me to do that.
From the Archives:
And Her Eyes Sewn Shut with Unicorn Hair
“That’s why I’ve never loved my sister. I’ve always known the last thing I’ll ever see is her sewing my eyes shut.”
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