Issues from 2019
Issue #293
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Scapegoat

Boz did not want to ask Trace what had happened back there. It had all been so strange—the unreasonable whip-sawing of thoughts and emotions through his head and guts. He knew it was Trace, and yet he’d seen him as a stranger, and a despised one at that. Had read all the worst motives into his words and actions. Had hated him, in fact.

Boz had a feeling all this chatter was smoke for another conversation they weren’t having. “You see anything?”
The Only Way Out is Through

True horror settled over Dagn when Rille's distinctive heavy tread scuffed on the hall’s stone floor, drawing nearer. Just her luck. On the eve of the invasion's final stroke, of course she’d be standing inside a dark room with the Boar’s eldest child dead on the floor. Stupid and predictable.

Dagn backed away a step, mind racing. Suddenly, death by starvation in a snowy mountain hut seemed almost desirable.
From the Archives:
Swallowing Silver
John Halpern knew it should be a heavy weight on his conscience, to wake up and know that he was going to kill a thing that used to be a man.
Issue #292
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Nameless in the Winged Court

I can fly now, a little. I still cannot use my wings well, not like the flower-people who have had them from childhood. I shiver to think—the babies fresh-born in unfurling buds, the small children who are yet wingless, pattering over the petals on their tiny feet, paddling in the ponds created at the base of the tulips when it rains—that they will face that ordeal.

The day I was married they gave me wings and took my name.
The Petals of the Godflower

My mother smiles as my brother kills himself. She cheers as he jerks his birth knife sideways; she claps as he opens his throat. The priests haul him out by his ankles and drag him across the square. They toss his body into the grave I refused to help him dig. The others crowd my mother, and her face goes rapturous under their praise: Mother and her golden womb, Mother and her dutiful children, Mother and her many, many sacrifices.

My mother cheers as my brother kills himself.
From the Archives:
The Sweetness of Honey and Rot
Jiteh lets her hand hover a breath away from the Boundary. Somewhere beyond, there are people who do not watch their brothers devoured by the Life Tree. There are people who do not praise.
Issue #291
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Swimming Apart

Deania appreciated the apology, but it was as heavy as everything else about this meeting. Where was their laughter? She knocked her shoulder lightly into her friend’s. “I’m sure you’d have fooled the humans even without the watcher and the—waistjacket and coat, or whatever those were called.” Not nursing at the time, Seriola had gone as a man, as that was who humans would tell about machines, apparently.

Deania appreciated the apology, but it was as heavy as everything else about this meeting
The Forge

And I was sure that Lyric didn’t want me to look. I could even guess why: if the knife had been made with knowledge from the Archive, that would reduce our suspect pool to members of the House of Fen. And Queen Endra would be the first name on the list. I could imagine Endra killing her own father. I could not imagine her being this careless about it.

I could imagine Queen Endra killing her own father. I could not imagine her being this careless about it.
From the Archives:
In the Gardens of the Night
If the General wants her dead, he must agree to my requests.
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

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

Podcast: Download (Duration: 27:53 — 19.15MB)
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Podcasts | RSS | More

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

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

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

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

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

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.
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