The Night Forest

The Night Forest

by Kit Campbell

 

She looked through the window though there was nothing to see on the other side; the depths of night hid what lay within her view.

She could sense him behind her, close enough to touch, but not.

“What is it you see out there?” That weird tightness to his voice that had been present lately.

“Nothing,” she said. “I see nothing.”

“Then why do you look?”

She shook her head and turned to look at him, this man who would one day be her husband, though now he drew subtly away from her. Why did she look, when she knew the small window and the black of night would show her nothing?

“It is past midnight,” she said instead. “Why are you not abed?”

“While you wander the halls, so shall I.” A light remark, one that could have … Continue reading

Sun Touched

Sun Touched
by Erin Zarro
a free serial story in the Fey Touched universe

I woke up in filth.

A dirty, cold floor. Two mice chased each other along one equally dirty wall. It was stained with who-knew-what. Musty, sweat-filled air surrounded me. And, I could smell blood.

I looked down. All I wore was a simple cotton shift that opened in the back. I had a bad feeling I knew what that was for. A pool of blood surrounded my leg, so I must have gotten injured somehow. I couldn’t remember what had happened.

I was in a small prison cell. A filthy cot sat in one corner, no blankets. A bucket sat in the opposite corner, and apparently, someone had emptied it recently, because I did not smell the stink of human waste. Thank Artemis for that.

My prison was in a dark, large … Continue reading

Operating Systems

A poem by Siri Paulson

He was an apple boy
she was an android girl
living their lives side by side
orbits and orbits, never intersect
lost in the space ‘twixt the stars.

He went for coffee here,
white earbuds and logos on every table;
played on the blue side of app-based games,
drank his beer at the chosen locations,
walked the streets with his tribe.

She loved her artisan tea café,
black tablets and laptops everywhere near;
played with the reds, talked smack to the blues,
drank her artisan ciders one gastropub over.
They crossed paths outside and went their own ways.

His school taught him iOS,
hers taught her Linux; he learned to draw
and she programmed on Windows.
They never saw the same job ads; Google
showed them half … Continue reading

Flame Isfree and the Feather of Fate VII

Once wild magic shattered human civilization. Mage-built cities collapsed, spell-sped galleons sank, airships fell from the skies. Magic-born chimerae turned on their creators, and then their neighbors. The peoples of Awrhee fell into barbarism.

But that was generations ago. Humanity has scraped together kingdoms again, and learned to live without magic. Those who practice spellcraft are eyed with suspicion, as are the old ways, and the old places.

Some, however, seek treasure in the ruins of what was. Knowledge, gold, power—it’s out there. Treasure untold for anyone clever enough to find it, bold enough to take it, fast enough to get away with it.

It’s out there, in the Spell-Wracked Lands.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Flame Isfree and the Feather of Fate VII
A Serial Story by KD Sarge

 

The morning … Continue reading

Spiritus Viri

by Erin Zarro

After our wedding, Jerry carried me over the threshold of our home: a small ranch that was cozy and practically ancient. We’d repainted most of the walls and removed the carpets, as we liked hardwood floors.

It was our first night in it after the renovations.

I laughed as Jerry fumbled with skirts just to put me down again. “Maybe I’ll just stay in this dress,” I said. I was a bit tipsy from the champagne and dancing. I twirled, watching my skirts flare, then stopped. Except the room didn’t stop spinning.

“You’ll freeze, my lovely wife,” Jerry said, coming up behind me and pulling me against him. “The sheerness of the top…”

“But my bottom half will be warm,” I said with a giggle. I wiggled free and headed toward the bedroom, which sat at the end of the hall. A very long hallway, … Continue reading

Brothers (A Fractured World Short)

by Siri Paulson

 

Astrolabe started out of a nightmare, his face wet with tears. Toric had been calling for him, his brother’s voice getting farther and farther away as the monster carried him off. It was a Type III monster, the ones with the legs that stayed long and powerful no matter how their bodies shifted. He had known it was pointless to chase the thing, but he’d been trying anyway, in his sleep.

His sheets were twisted and soaked with sweat, and the stump of his right arm ached horribly. It wouldn’t ease up until the doctor’s assistant came to change the dressing and administer his next dose of goatweed. No point trying to sleep again now.

He got out of bed and checked for daylight in the crack between the heavy shutters of the room where he was staying in the Medical wing. Satisfied, he … Continue reading

A Constant Companion (Fractured World Short)

A Constant Companion

by Kit Campbell

“…as long as you’re living under my roof,” Jael was saying, but Briony tuned him out, choosing instead to glare at the table. Her hands sat on its uneven surface, curled so tightly in on themselves that she could feel her nails digging into her palms.

Behind her, she could hear the laughs of her brother’s small children as his wife told them a story. Their youngest, Brin, would be a year soon, and had taken to copying everything her older brother and sister did, much to the amusement of all involved.

Jael should be in there parenting them. He didn’t need to be parenting her. He wasn’t her father. Just because Mother—

Briony shook her head to clear it of the thought.

“Are you listening to me, Bree?”

“It’s not really your roof, is it?” Briony leaned back, crossing … Continue reading

Changeling: The Faerie Escape

Changeling
Part 5: The Faerie Escape
a free fantasy serial by Erin Zarro

Links: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4

I turned to face the woman who claimed she was my mother, but didn’t feel like my mother at all. My twin was with her, looking terrified.

Mother was pale, and her hands were clenched into fists. “Aisling, what do you have to say for yourself?”

Ronan stepped forward, putting his hand on my shoulder, but I shrugged him away. “Mother, I am leaving here. I belong out there with my family.”

Mother sighed. “Are we going to do this yet again? Your place is here, with me, with your people. I can’t understand why you persist in thinking about these people who aren’t even your real family. Maria will be joining them … Continue reading

Flame Isfree and the Feather of Fate VI

Once wild magic shattered human civilization. Mage-built cities collapsed, spell-sped galleons sank, airships fell from the skies. Magic-born chimerae turned on their creators, and then their neighbors. The peoples of Awrhee fell into barbarism.

But that was generations ago. Humanity has scraped together kingdoms again, and learned to live without magic. Those who practice spellcraft are eyed with suspicion, as are the old ways, and the old places.

Some, however, seek treasure in the ruins of what was. Knowledge, gold, power—it’s out there. Treasure untold for anyone clever enough to find it, bold enough to take it, fast enough to get away with it.

It’s out there, in the Spell-Wracked Lands.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

 

Flame Isfree and the Feather of Fate VI
A Serial Story by KD Sarge

 

“You said you would … Continue reading

Introducing City of Hope and Ruin by Kit Campbell and Siri Paulson

Our apologies for yesterday. We saw the date and couldn’t resist. Here’s the real teaser excerpt, but first, a little intro…

Every night the monsters hunt.

A city that is the whole world: Theosophy and her companions in the City militia do their best to protect the civilians from the monsters, but they keep crawling from the Rift and there’s nowhere to run. Theosophy knows she’ll die fighting. It’s the best kind of death she’s seen, and at least she can save lives in the meantime.

They say the Scarred carve you up while you’re still alive.

A village in the shadow of a forest: Refugees from the border whisper about the oncoming Scarred, but Briony can’t convince her brother to relocate his children to safety. Briony will do anything to protect them. She owes them that much, even if it means turning to forbidden magic.

When … Continue reading