Introducing Burning Bright

 

The demons come, devouring life and light. Armed with sword and spell, Keepers meet the scourge. Above nations, beyond the law, to be a Keeper is to hold power–but power always comes with a price.

Introducing Burning Bright, the first book of the Seize the Fire trilogy.

 

Burning Bright, Chapter One

by KD Sarge

“Keeper-Apprentice Kunihiro Takai,” Ume said, “well done. Harmony herself, Lady of Harvests, would be pleased to call this place home. She might even bring the twins, Binder and Unwinder, which holy children—”

“Little thanks to you.” Hiro pushed a book on the shelf nearest him more in line with its fellows. There. The little library was perfect. The kitchen behind him sparkled. The porch was neat, the garden weeded, Eshan’s bedroom freshened…he never should have let it get so bad. But now Eshan would never know.

“I did my part,” Ume said, flopping into the big chair Eshan curled up in on winter evenings. “I trotted up here and warned you the healers were letting him go today.” She flung long brown legs over the arm as she sprawled. “And when you asked for help, I told you. Demons to be defeated? Drunkery to be debauched? I’m in. Cooking, cleaning, sewing, minding? Not this wench. Especially if I’m not allowed to use magic.”

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When the World Was Young

When the World Was Young
by Kit Campbell

 

In the early days, when the sky was clear and we were still part of nature, there were no mountains and no valleys. The world was flat and unmarked, unscathed by the passage of time. The first people spent their days next to quiet rivers and hunted across verdant plains, and life was peaceful and meaningful.

I know what you are expecting, child. You are expecting a classic creation myth, full of gods and the forces of nature, pulling at the land and mankind until what we know now comes into existence. This is not that sort of story. Oh, I wish it were, but alas, our past cannot be explained away so easily.

In those days, we had few cares. We hunted and scavenged when hungry. We slept when tired. We admired the scenery around us and, at night, watched the streaking of the stars across the sky. In the winter we gathered together for warmth, and in the summer we lay out in the flowers.

Who can say when things began to change? Who can say when exactly it was that they came?

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Flame Isfree and the Feather of Fate IV

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

 

Flame Isfree and the Feather of Fate IV

A Serial Story by KD Sarge

 

In the daytime a fire was just more light, but at night it could draw things from unguessable distances, so the group had slept cold. By the time Flame helped Ryahled into the camp, though, a tiny fire blazed fiercely. A small kettle of water sat in the middle of it, sweet herbs drifting in it. Tolor came from the fire to take Ryahled’s arm.

“I’m beginning to wonder,” he said with a soft …

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Changeling: The Faerie Dance

Changeling
Part 2: The Faerie Dance
A free fantasy serial by Erin Zarro

Part 1 is here if you’d like to catch up.

 

When the world solidified around me again, I was no longer in the forest. I was inside a large structure with walls covered in flowers of all colors, so bright and vivid. Tiny faeries that looked like twinkle lights flew all around, surrounding me in their ever-shifting light. They filled me with warmth and love.

Lanterns hung from the ceiling, illuminating the many couples who were dancing to soft harp music. I recognized some of them from the forest.

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Flame Isfree and the Feather of Fate III

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

 

Flame Isfree and the Feather of Fate III

A Serial Story by KD Sarge

 

Ryahled had found the campsite she’d planned to use. The group was setting camp already, with an eye to defense rather than comfort. Tolor never was dumb. Flame dropped into the middle of the group; all but Ryahled grabbed for weapons. Flame smirked at the dwarf brothers.

“Nice watch you keep.”

“Sneaking elf,” Satak grumbled. Okon snorted and turned away. Tolor stalked to glare down at Flame.

“Where in the hells have you been?” he demanded. “Ryahled said you were off chasing a smell. Do you think we have the time—”

“You’d better make the time,” Flame snapped, her eyes searching out Lory in her tent—the only tent—which Bran carried. The woman liked …

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Sneak Peek of Grave Touched

Erin here. I wanted to give you a sneak peek of Grave Touched, book 2 of my Fey Touched series, releasing May 1st from Turtleduck Press. Not long now! (Also? Fey Touched, book 1, is on sale for $.99 right now. Check it out if you want to catch up!)

 

Whispers. A flicker of thought.

My eyes wouldn’t open. Panic sliced through me.

I opened my mouth, but nothing came out.

“It’s okay, Em. You’re okay,” a familiar male voice said. A hand stroked my brow. Nick? Was Nick here? My beloved Nick could always soothe me, keep me from the edge.

“Em…you’re really here,” Nick said softly. “You’re alive.”

Alive? Of course I was alive.

I opened my eyes, wincing.

A tall human woman watched me with gray eyes that I was sure peeled layers off of me. “Emily, I’m Doctor Lucia Jonath. You’ve been under my care for a few weeks now because you were in an accident.”

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The Haunting of Heatherbrae Station

A free short story

by Siri Paulson

 

14 May 18—, Earth reckoning

Dear Millie,

What a forlorn place this is! How far we have come from Mrs. Tattersall’s London Academy for Female Tutors. I hope you are finding Luna Station, and your young charges, more amiable than mine. How often I imagined the two motherless children here, starved for a woman’s gentle hand and eager to learn, as befits even the farthest-flung of Queen Victoria’s young citizens. Even the thought of being trapped on the station for three months until the orbits lined up again did not deter me. But I fear I have made a dreadful mistake.

My first sight of Heatherbrae Station from the ethership’s shuttle, as we made our approach yesterday, was daunting enough. The edifice loomed above us, ill-lit by the distant Sun, with the fantastic whorls of Saturn’s surface behind. The station has ornate crenellations like a castle, and pointed arches along its axis—for it is shaped like a dumbbell, the Alpha end for the workers and the shuttlecraft they use to gather raw material from the rings, the middle for processing, and the Beta end for Stationmaster Edmund Croyden and his children and staff…and me. The whole rotates to provide gravity at each end. Quite ingenious; but from the shuttle it was dark and grim, and about it hovered a queer white light that gave me the chills.

I must have made some sound, for the pilot turned to …

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Band of Turquoise

 

Band of Turquoise

a free short story by Kit Campbell

 

Alice pulled her sweater closer as she moved into the graveyard. Stray, dead leaves swirled at her feet, and a band of turquoise lay heavily on her wrist. She resisted the urge to play with it, in case that broke the limited protection it gave her. She did not know how much time she had before Amy would realize she had gone, before the turquoise would no longer hide Alice’s whereabouts. 

Fear caused her to move faster than she would otherwise. Her goal was the center of the graveyard, a statue of Death standing over his prey. Rumor said the statue had been there since the very beginning of the cemetery, if not before. 

In the twilight, the graveyard was empty of other people–living ones, at least. Gravestones rose out of the darkness only to be wrapped back in once Alice had passed. The statue was unmistakable when she found it. She only hoped the rumors were true. She would not get a chance to try again. 

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Man’s Best Friend

A free flash fiction piece by Siri Paulson

There’s a new fad in town. It took me ages to win over the ‘rents. Too much upkeep, they said, even though I promised to take care of it. Too big, too expensive, too dangerous, the aquarium wouldn’t match the rec room decor. But I knew they’d give in. Can’t be those parents.

My dad still doesn’t like the new pet. Too creepy, as if it’s watching him as it swims. But I like that. I watch it and it watches me back as it circles the tank, lifting to breathe, the water closing again over its domed head and webbed feet. It’s as long as I am, and the aquarium takes up half of the rec room, where the VR used to be, but this is better than VR. Not human but not just fish anymore, smart but not really intelligent – the ads promised you could teach them tricks, showed them moving in tandem in different labs. But I don’t want mine to be tamed.

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Introducing Even the Score

 

One, two, three,
How many will my victims be?
One, two, three, four,
How many more to even the score?

When Taro Hibiki leads a survival class into the backwoods, he has two goals: to prove himself as an instructor, and to propose to his beloved Rafe before he loses his nerve completely. In the wilds might seem a strange place for that, but it’s where Taro feels most at home—and the only place the couple can escape all their other responsibilities.

BFR’s colonists claim the name stands for “Big Effing Rock,” and boast of their planet’s dangers. Yet more treacherous than sight-scamps or bomb bugs is a human seeking vengeance. Soon Taro’s students are dropping one by one, and no matter what Taro does, the killer stays a step ahead. Worst of all, Taro suspects the students are targets of opportunity—that the ultimate goal is Rafe. Taro would die for Rafe in a heartbeat, but who’s going to take care of Rafe if he does?

As it happens, the killer has a plan for that, too.

Even the Score will be available December 1st from Turtleduck Press. It takes place two years after the events of His Faithful Squire. Find a chronology of the Dream’verse here.

§

Trust Rafe to set the scene perfectly. We huddled in the deepest, narrowest part of a canyon called Fools Rush In. Sharp grey cliffs rose all around. Rafe the Victim …

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