Featuring new cover art by Kerem Beyit
“Two Pretenders,” by Marie Brennan
He had sworn never to speak of it, not to anyone, but his tongue betrays him in an instant. “Sometimes I think I’ve been here before. In my dreams...I have the strangest dreams.” He pauses, fighting not to say more, and into that pause comes the young man’s quiet answer. “Dreams of this place. Not this cell–a proper chamber, with a proper bed, and servants, and no shackles. But a prison just the same.”
“Over a Narrow Sea,” by Camille Alexa
Staring into the witch’s cup, I feel something loosening inside myself, a knot I hadn’t known resided in my chest. I nod as though drowsing, despite feeling in some ways strangely alert, aware of minute details: the snap and hiss of the driftwood fire; the whuffle and scuff of gull feet scrabbling on the windowsill; the heavy presence of Katte’s broken body. Almost, I think I can hear the knitting of my friend’s fractured skull, the remaking of her rent skin.
“Transitions of Truth and Tears,” by David G. Blake
Garran spotted the fountain long before he reached its base. Water spurted into the air, sprung from a stone wineskin held by a life-sized statue of the founder of Vihal...one of the murderers of Beliath. Garran repeated that fact in his head as he pushed through the last throng of people, a part of him both amazed and horrified that no one had stopped him yet; a much deeper part shamed that he had not stopped on his own.
“Oil Fire,” by Kate MacLeod, from BCS #23
Oh, poor Enanatuma! We had been estranged long before my banishment. I had seen her only once since the day ten years ago when I had given up dancing and devoted all my energies to magic. I had done her a favor in return for the thousand kindnesses she and her father had shown me and had intended never to see her again. But she was still my sister.