Curiosity Killed the Cat – Part 1

Curiosity Killed the Cat

A free fantasy serial

by KD Sarge

 

Part 1: Through a Hidden Door

 

A child’s city, Srivasi thought when the horses crested a small rise and below them the forest held back from the edges of oddly short buildings of white stone with golden streaks. Graceful arcs that should have soared, domes that should have stood tall—

“His scarf!” Gerda shouted, making Srivasi’s head ring. She wriggled, twisting and shoving and nearly knocking him out of the saddle before she slid off the back of his horse to land on her feet. “I see his scarf!” At the sound of her voice, goats came running to cavort about her. “My darlings, here you are!” She ran to meet them. “But where is Dasid?” she asked the goats.

“Small ruins,” Jhi Bo growled in Fwenye as she swung down from her horse. “They are still ruins. Why is it always ruins?” The black warhorse shook his head as if to echo her disgust, bridle-bells jingling. “I warned you,” Jhi Bo muttered as Srivasi scrambled down. “Did I not? Just because a woman weeps…”

“She’s a child,” Srivasi argued despite his still-ringing ears and the fact that Gerda was a solidly-built girl not two fingers shorter than he was, who wrestled farm animals and younger siblings every day of her life. “An orphan child, looking for her little brother. How can we not help?”

“Easily,” Jhi Bo grumbled, but …

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Unwritten

Unwritten

By Kit Campbell

 

When his break started, Coren tucked his hard hat under his arm and left the site. Sure, they were encouraged to eat there, but it wasn’t required, and Coren hadn’t been here long enough to deny himself the right to explore, when he could. This site was downtown, the skyscrapers towering overhead, blocking sun and sky from view. He could head in any direction, and there would be new people, new things, new experiences.

Yet he was not surprised when he found himself in front of the bookstore again, its exterior painted a deep green, its interior dark and coated with books in varying states of disuse. Of all the places he’d found in this strange city, it felt the most like home.

Despite that, he never set foot inside.

 

#

 

His own book he kept at home. It was large, leather-bound, with gold filigree along the edges. There was no title on the cover, and if there had been one inside, it had disappeared. Coren had come to understand that books were supposed to have text on each page, from start to finish, but this one was missing large swaths where the words seemed to have faded away into nothingness. At first he had assumed it was his parts that had vanished, but it was seemingly random, as occasionally his own name stared back at him from the page, along with those compatriots with whom he had shared …

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Sun Touched

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

 

DAY ONE

I was awakened by my cell door being unlocked. I blinked, trying to remember where I was and what was happening.

Oh, right. I was being held prisoner by rogues who thought I could heal one –

And speaking of him, I watched as he came into my cell. He then closed and locked the cell door.

I blinked again. “What’re you doing here?” I shifted uncomfortably, my muscles sore. My back, where my wings would be if I unfurled them, hurt, too. Probably because I’d fallen asleep in a weird position.

Ry gave me an assessing look. “We’re roommates.”

“I don’t think so.” I tried to stand, but my equilibrium was all wrong. Ry came over and tried to steady me, but I pulled away quickly. “Do not touch me.”

“Okay, if you’d rather fall…” He shrugged. “Just trying to help.”

I eyed the swirling designs on his hands. “I just would rather you not touch me, all right?”

“Because of these?” Ry held up his hands. “They say it’s not contagious.”

“Only to rogues,” I said. “That’s what I heard.”

Ry went to the opposite wall, sat down, and pulled his knees to his chest. “So whatever shall we do?”

I went to the cot, because I was here first, damn it. And I wasn’t about to spend the night on the floor. I sat …

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The Data Carrier

by Siri Paulson

 

Oyez! Oyez! Gather, people of Epsilon Dome City, and listen to the data!

This bard standing before you has made her rounds through your neighbour, Gamma, for many years. They have known her since her implant was new, her limbs straight and her eyes clear. They are a small community with many small data of news, none significant except to those within that dome, and so she is the only bard that visits. Yet this bard has made her rounds faithfully and spoken to them the data from outside. She has listened and remembered. She has imparted, to the best of her ability given the needs of her audiences, the data from Gamma to other domes, so that all may hear and know.

Yet when she landed her flyer in Gamma Dome City ten days past, something was different.

#

A man from Gamma asked her once, several years ago, whether she remembered every data she heard. She said yes, of course. That was what the implant was for. Then he asked her whether she told every data she heard. Are no conversations private, he asked. She told him that part of the training to be a bard was discerning what to tell and to whom. The confidence of a friend, a family matter that has no bearing on others, those things may be kept silent.

Then how, he asked, may we trust that you are not keeping other things …

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A Sneak Peek of Ever Touched

Hi, guys! Erin here. Here is a sneak peek of Ever Touched, book #3 in my Fey Touched series, which will be released on May 1st. This part is from early in the book. Enjoy, and keep your eyes peeled for an announcement of its release (that’s like, 30 days from now! Holy cow!).

“What do you see? What do you see?”

Charles was experimenting again, which meant more serum.

More predictions.

More abuse.

The light was too dim and my eyes kept wanting to close. Charles had been slapping me to wake me up.

I hadn’t slept in a while. In fact, it was quite possible I’d not slept for at least twenty-four hours. My sense of time was completely skewed. It felt like night, but I supposed it could be morning.

Or something.

I kept talking.

Every so often I caught sight of a person in the shadows. He never came forward, never helped or hurt me. He just stood there, observing, making notes.

He unnerved me.

“Another injection. Up it by fifty,” Charles said, and I jolted with the pain of it. No one was ever gentle. “It’s not clear enough.” He glanced at me. “Hang on. The ride’s about to get really bumpy…”

And bumpy it was. Images flashed in my mind’s eye like flashes of a camera: a man with black wings. A woman in armor and…wings made of…light? They were talking. She looked transparent underneath the armor. I relayed all of this to Charles, who …

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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 been sweet, had she not seen the tension in his shoulders, had he not held himself so far away from her. He was watching her, like she might turn at any moment.

Turn into what, she had not decided.

~*~*~*~*~

The first change had been her difficulty sleeping. She’d taken to wandering the halls at night, though all slept except the guards on the walls. Still, despite her nightly excursions, she was not tired, not drained. But then, when she did sleep, the dream had come.

She was somewhere deep and dark, with trees towering overhead. She could …

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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 room.

All I remembered was fighting the rogues with my tribe. I’d spun around to stake one. Then, a punch to my gut, and nothing else.

Where were the others? Had they been captured, too?

I shivered, curling up into a little ball

Freaking hell.

Was anyone around?

I licked my dry lips. “Hello? Anyone there?”

“I see you’ve woken up,” a male voice said from the shadows. He stepped forward, and I saw that he was outside of my cell. And that he was one of the rogues.

I uncurled and stood, not wanting to seem submissive. I was …

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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 the world only.

His search results, social media feeds,
the ads that followed him through his day,
pointed all to one reality. Living on the flip side,
she saw black where he saw white,
two views almost entirely unlike.

One saw hope where the other saw fear.
Change was coming too slow, or maybe too fast.
Tilt the world like a kaleidoscope, and watch the facts
fall into place; then tilt again and see them shift.
The patterns are only what you see.

The social networks where they hung out
watched …

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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 had dawned far too bright, and it was too warm as well, making Flame’s head and stomach hurt as if she’d spent the night enjoying herself. She huddled under her hood, enduring the warmth in favor of shade as they left the Stone Eye.

“Flame, do you really think you should take a hearth-cat into the wild?” Lory asked.

“I’m just going,” Flame said. “He’s the one following.”

“He came from the wild,” Kessa said. “He probably doesn’t want to be a city cat. Do you?” She scooped up the cat and cuddled it. “Him doesn’t want to be a …

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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, unlit, in high heels.

“Be careful, Lizzy. I should probably help – ” Whatever he was about to say was lost as he fell, his head hitting the floor with a crack.

I picked up my skirts and went to him. Kneeling, I put my hand gently on a red, large bump that had formed on his head. “Jerry, are you okay? How bad is the pain? Are you dizzy, nauseous – “

“I’m fine. I just tripped on something, that’s all.” He tried to stand, and didn’t seem to have a problem doing that, although he was the type …

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