Issues from 2019
Issue #290
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Featuring new cover art: “Tower of the Winds” by Alexey Shugurov.

The Gods Come to Sredna

The captain pursed her lower lip, though I wasn't much younger than she was. Thirty-nine soldiers escorted the new Mother to Imparum. That's tradition. There's no traditional retinue for escorting a Mother home, as the Incarnation of Dev-Gemot, Beast of Heaven, Lord of Horn and Frill, generally outlives his dam, but I expected more than three. The captain shrugged. "Where's your horse?"

Like the log stockades of Sredna, it would hold a ceratopsid until she decided to leave.
The Two Sides of Home

Niamh truly looked offended that Joyce would even insinuate that was her meaning. “Of course not. But all this magic coursing through me, all the Bull’s power? It’s no good if I can’t channel it into the larval god. Your cousin is going to be my channel, transferring my magic. He’s the means by which the Bull will be born into this city. He’s the only one in Twixt who can.”

The dull annoyance in the men's eyes frightened Joyce more than open hostility would have.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Gods Come to Sredna
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 43:23 — 29.8MB)
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Like the log stockades of Sredna, it would hold a ceratopsid until she decided to leave.
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 #289
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The Star Plague

There is no lamplight inside the chapel. Bragi tries to fill in the shadows with what he remembers of the room. He knows there’s a wide open space, where the priests kneel, and beyond it the gold-gilded altar where no blood is ever spilled. The staircase to the bell tower is off to the left. Bragi sees no crouchers in their path. He motions for the priests to pass him. Something moves in front of the altar.

Bragi tries to fill in the shadows with what he remembers of the room. Something moves in front of the altar.
The Butcher, the Baker

“No, no, I’m honored by your love, and you had to defend yourself. You’re lucky that oaf you killed was too ignorant to recognize what you are.” Trukos found that statement strange. He knew exactly what he was: a thing Auntie Mayya had made. The pain, though, he needed her to unmake.

Frowning at the hole left in Trukos's chest by the Goldbrook man’s knife, Mayya said, “Come with me.”
Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Butcher, the Baker
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 27:53 — 19.15MB)
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Frowning at the hole left in Trukos's chest by the Goldbrook man’s knife, Mayya said, “Come with me.”
From the Archives:
The Study of Monstrosities
Ethan looked at the sepia photograph again. A man? No, it was anything but.
Issue #288
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The Edges of the World

Today it’s the moon that has him thinking of long ago, but lately anything might do it: leaves blowing over the river, the goosegirl driving her angry geese along the road, the clatter of hooves on the bridge. The turtles. He built the turtle pond in the first month of his exile, a gesture of defiance: you will not make me other than I am! As though anyone in this district would understand the pond’s significance to an alchemist, or care.

Today it’s the moon that has him thinking of long ago, but lately anything might do it.
Under Their Wings, These Starving Ghosts

The first thing he feels after being brought back to life are the gentle strokes of wispy fingers trying to touch him. They clamor around his body—weak voices in his ear imploring him to describe every delicious detail of what he can see and feel, when he breaks through the surface of the world gasping and sputtering for air.

The first thing he feels after being brought back to life are the gentle strokes of wispy fingers trying to touch him.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Edges of the World
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 18:41 — 12.83MB)
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Today it’s the moon that has him thinking of long ago, but lately anything might do it.
From the Archives:
Magic Potion Behind-the-Mountains
But the magistrate firmly believes that this pursuit will pay off. He will learn the secret magic potion, and he will be vindicated.
Issue #287, Eleventh Anniversary Double-Issue
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A double-issue to celebrate our eleventh anniversary! Featuring new cover art: “Athlerrod” by Ferdinand Dumago Ladera.

Portrait Of The Artist

It all comes down to such tiny differences; if I was one inch taller, then by standing on tiptoe and really, really straining, I could reach the apple on the branch. But when you lack it, one inch, half-inch, quarter-inch is the same as a mile. Depends where you're standing. In my line of work, we call it perspective. A quarter of an inch is all it takes to separate heaven from hell.

“I paint by the inner light,” I said. I tried to make it sound like I was being facetious.
Sankalpa

Starvation felt familiar. In my past life I had known how to endure it, how to live for months without the taste of food. I would not call on that knowledge now. My fixed intention was to die. Until a voice spoke from the air. It misunderstood the purpose of my fast, thinking I sought through austerity to accomplish some other end. It offered to grant my desire.

Again and again I died. Better to cut my thread short and start again than waste lifetimes on a path that would not lead me to my goal.
One Found in a World of the Lost

Desire exploded in the girl's heart at the mention of safety and stability, rest... She quashed it. What would she do in such a world? She was a hunter. But these were gifts that would benefit her pack, gifts worth taking risks for. Even if they came with a large sense of foreboding. "Can you make me invulnerable?" she replied, giving in to the image of her death, the boar's tusks sinking into her and what it would mean for them all if she did indeed die.

The girl shivered at the mention of that name: Pavitra. As if that were someone she should know.
The Witch of the Will

Too late did the witch understand what sort of comfort the boy had sought in having his free will removed. He had not wished to know his future but to become bound to it inexorably. In this way, he felt himself absolved. He stood helpless before the sorrow given to him and blameless in the wake of the sorrow he gave to others. Neither guilt nor grief had any power over him now. It left her speechless.

She embraced the one option left to her: not breaking the fate of another but bending it.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Portrait Of The Artist
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 1:14:32 — 51.18MB)
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“I paint by the inner light,” I said. I tried to make it sound like I was being facetious.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Sankalpa
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Podcast: Download (Duration: 27:34 — 18.93MB)
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Again and again I died. Better to cut my thread short and start again than waste lifetimes on a path that would not lead me to my goal.
From the Archives:
The Thought That Counts
For once in my life, I could walk down the street without looking for places to run to if I heard someone yell my name.
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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Podcast: Download (Duration: 26:33 — 18.24MB)
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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.
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