Issues from 2021
Issue #338
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The Shape of Wings and Feathers

For a moment, she considers repeating the spells that she tried before; it would be easy to give in to that desire, to assume stubbornly that everything she was taught in school will be the solution and that the spells might only require a second casting to work. But this is a test designed to weed the weak from the strong, and part of Bryce realizes that she must try something different.

But this is a test designed to weed the weak from the strong, and part of Bryce realizes that she must try something different.
Those Virtues, Those Poisons

"You feed on the loathing that you ask of your betters. You never ask for help. You are addicted to self-hate. Your fuel will undo you, son. Unless you find something better to burn. That, or remain lost. Let the jungle swallow my two sons, and let me have the mystery of your disappearance rather than the knowledge of your failure. At least then I can pretend you tried."

His voice fades as I wander further with you in my arms, the remnants of his derision lingering like smoke.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Shape of Wings and Feathers

Podcast: Download (Duration: 36:32 — 25.09MB)
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But this is a test designed to weed the weak from the strong, and part of Bryce realizes that she must try something different.
From the Archives:
Who Goes Against a Waste of Waters
We are the only ones left to herd the ghost-sheep.
Issue #337
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For Rain Is To Wet and Fire To Burn

They plunged into the orange glowing mouth of my kiln—yes, the whole choir dove straight into the fire. It blazed white and emitted a stench of burnt feathers. Then the angels were nothing but dark bodies going to ash, leaving me on my knees staring after them shocked and silenced in disbelief.

The angels plunged into the orange glowing mouth of my kiln.
The Bonfire of the Unknown and the Foreign

“Those with a husband would inflame the jealousy of the goddesses, and those who have never known loss would incite their rage.” It is one of the white-sareed women. Her lips are without paint and her hair is hidden under the drape of her saree. My companions at the bonfire have taken several bodily steps away from her. The effect is comical. It is as if she is a snow-white horse wading through the brown and black mud of us unknown and foreign types.

Everyone is welcome—even us unknown and foreign types—to partake in the grace, so long as we leave the village right after.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
For Rain Is To Wet and Fire To Burn

Podcast: Download (Duration: 00:35:11 — 24.16MB)
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The angels plunged into the orange glowing mouth of my kiln.
From the Archives:
The Black-Eyed Goddess of Apple Trees and Farmers’ Wives
My favorite story as a child was the one about the farmer who slits open his wife’s belly and plants an apple tree amongst her insides.
Issue #336
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Featuring a giveaway for a copy of the We’re Here anthology, edited by BCS authors C.L. Clark and Charles Payseur, and new cover art: “The Kingdom of Alexandria” by Jérôme Comentale.

What the Wind Saw

“Why not?" I demanded. "What am I supposed to remember?” So Zephyrus knew the truth after all. I grabbed his arm, well aware I might offend him and frustrated beyond belief that they shared some secret I did not. “Leave Kallias be. It was my idea to come. He follows my orders.” When Zephyrus didn’t acknowledge me, I added, “The wind sees all. The wind knows all. That’s what Thamyris told me.”

A chill overcame me, and I was certain it was not the god’s doing. The wind saw.
A Theatre

O Albany! O pure comfort! After so many days in a down-at-heels cart on a dusty road through wretched weather (to say nothing of the food), to have now, at last—well, not bathed, precisely (a mishap he planned to repair later), but to at least have made an acquaintance with the sponge; to have at last donned clean clothes, a new wig, a respectable hat—why, he was, himself, shaved and shorn and sprightful, a bit long of face and short of leg, perhaps; his hair, or what showed from under the wig, at best mousy; yet here he was, Mr Augustus Burnham, the very spitting image of the exquisite gentleman (if one might politely overlook the scar that plowed a red furrow across cheek and brow); an actor's rôle to be played, without a doubt, but one that fitted him to the skin, like silken stockings on a well-turned leg. (But what was to be done about Sergeant Steele?)

Burnham had found himself unwilling to cozen honest, upright citizens with any of their cargo of false notes.
From the Archives:
Liaisons Galantes: A Scientific Romance
Galanteries did invariably appear whenever one truly loved another... even, as Zéphine well knew, if that love was unwanted and inconvenient.
Issue #335
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Featuring a giveaway for a copy of BCS author Josh Rountree’s new short story collection Fantastic Americana: Stories.

The God Skrae Eats Death

We realized why the scouts were so shaken by the scene when we arrived. The body lying in grasses smeared with blood was a Mandate. I stared at it in disbelief. Mandates were the voice of the gods. Even during the War, they gave their oracles without partiality and remained untouched. No one, not even a deathmage, would kill a Mandate.

We realized why the scouts were so shaken by the scene when we arrived.
Faithful Delirium

The conviction of the flesh weakened when that flesh was hacked away. Conducting a thousand interrogations of his own taught him that. Belief came easily in times of comfort. Contemplation and reflection were petty offerings to the goddess when weighed against the truth of how her glory needed to spread. People did not know what they needed until you forced them to see it. And sometimes they were particularly stubborn in the process.

“Burn them all!” The command had not come in a lucid moment. But he recognized its passion and necessity all the same.
From the Archives:
Dead at the Feet of a God
The portents float at the edge of your vision, haunt your dreams, shake themselves free with each throwing of the bones.
Issue #334
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Featuring a giveaway for a copy of BCS author Charles Payseur’s new short story collection The Burning Day and Other Strange Stories.

The Lingering Weight of Estrian Steel

What Stafe left unspoken was what had been gnawing at him since he’d met Viktor. By remaining in Ofra, Stafe had become a traitor to the Crown. Viktor, if he chose to be an upstanding and honorable knight, could right that wrong. Stafe’s head could sit beside the dragon’s organs for Viktor's journey home and would surely earn him more titles, lands, and the king’s favor.

“I failed. I fell down the mountain, mere bloody meat with the faint memory of a mind.”
A Land of Saints and Monsters

Ah, but he can. I can already feel his words curling through me like roots, the magic woven into them as real as my own. These are the words of a master to a slave. These are my reward, the price I paid for leaving the dervish, Ilyas. For Armen.

I release the rib. My power snakes up the monster’s spine.
From the Archives:
The Crow Knight
“The birds?” Ser Wynn looked around, but the only bird she saw was her own.
Issue #333
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For the World’s More Full of Weeping

“No, there’s no living there,” Tarrow said, more gently. “Not for anyone who wants to be human. They’re fascinated by life, just like humans are fascinated by death and raise up doctors to fight it and gods to preside over it. But that fascination doesn’t make the fair folk alive. It merely makes them cruel.”

The most beautiful tree on the road up to Limhill was the old oak they used for hangings, and it knew it.
The Witness Brûska Lai

Brû could not imagine what that was like. She had spent her life hearing of the Palace of Confluence with no sense of what it actually was, always a far-off storybook feeling. To be a servant here, to live the mirror of that feeling and know reality was out there, shaped by the everyday work done in the Confluence but to never see it—was it bizarre? Cruel? Another kind of normal?

Brû was beginning to feel that something more than chance had brought her to the Confluence.
From the Archives:
The Six Skills of Madame Lumiere
And like so many others, what the Rust Lords like best is exactly what we have.
Issue #332
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Featuring new cover art: “Rabbit House” by Avant Choi.

A Flower Cannot Love the Hand

I am still myself and so I am answered at last: yes, I have a soul, no matter what shape its vessel is forced into. I remember that I am sunlight made tender flesh, even as I stir soundless feathers against a starlit sky. I remember the wind in the woods, the gift of nectar, the graze of wings. Though I cannot see the sun, I fly ever closer to its resting-place, and I pray it hears me, in its dreams, when I call.

I am still myself and so I am answered at last: yes, I have a soul, no matter what shape its vessel is forced into.
My Mirror, My Opposite

I hit the water headfirst. The sea latched onto my clothes and weighed me down like armour and crowns and scepters, all those vestments I had never wanted. I didn’t glance up at the ship. Didn’t care if the captain’s panicked eyes were peering down at me or not, and felt grateful the sea drowned out his calls. I breathed in water and choked on it, feeling my mind and vision slipping away. Then something wrapped around my waist and began dragging me... up.

Let’s clear up one thing: that night, the storm didn’t hurl me into the sea.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
A Flower Cannot Love the Hand

Podcast: Download (Duration: 00:21:44 — 14.93MB)
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I am still myself and so I am answered at last: yes, I have a soul, no matter what shape its vessel is forced into.
From the Archives:
Everything Beneath You
I wanted to ask her more questions, about the way the world was made, about death and dreams, but did not want to know the answers.
Issue #331
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The Woods Echo Back

Shon isn't afraid. This isn't the stark silence of his empty home. This living quiet conceals the stretch of new leaf to sun, the rustle of the worm, and the squirm of pink pinioned baby birds. It is the held breath of small lungs in small bone cages around small swift hearts that beat a little faster waiting for the listener and the whistler to pass by.

Shon knows silence well.
Worth the Whistling

The wind turned, and the rustle of the field bled into the whistling of the wood, and more smoke blew closer. The air was bitter with it. He didn’t turn his gaze away from her. Anger. It was anger, there in its depths. She’d never had that directed at her before. Hadn’t had the chance to cause it, really. She let the hand holding the coins drop. “Tomorrow night.”

It was near midday when she heard the door open behind her, his cautious steps shuffling through dry, ash-coated leaves.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Woods Echo Back

Podcast: Download (Duration: 00:43:28 — 29.85MB)
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Shon knows silence well.
From the Archives:
Men of the Ashen Morrow
Sal stood alone in the field, feeling the absence of her friend's touch. Being open to death was the cost of living free.
Issue #330
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Hassan the Executioner Walks Out of Jawasar for the Last Time

Hassan had loved her, but his eyes had still been clear enough to know how the world saw her, the horror of her power and her magic and her intolerance of human weakness. It was easier to think of that now, in the way that it was easier to see after stepping from too bright sun into a shaded room. Lamia was not here to blind him anymore.

Hassan had loved her, but his eyes had still been clear enough to know how the world saw her.
To Crack the World

As magehandler, I technically outrank them during transit. But what's a command here on the frontier, ankle-deep in corpses? Danger's one thing. Soldiers expect that. Some even enjoy it. But certain death? No one walks into that just because some asshole with rank tells them to. Besides, what use would they be, soft flesh and brittle steel, with a world-cracker on the loose?

And here's us, trapped on the plain, nothing more than shivering flesh and bone. Well, us and it.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
Hassan the Executioner Walks Out of Jawasar for the Last Time

Podcast: Download (Duration: 00:32:34 — 22.36MB)
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Hassan had loved her, but his eyes had still been clear enough to know how the world saw her.
From the Archives:
The Grace of Turning Back
Semira watched Aniver hold audience with the Queen of the Dead, nerving herself to cross the river to them.
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