Archive for August, 2012

PodCastle 223: Five Bullets on the Banks of the Sadji

Show Notes

Rated R for violence

Five Bullets on the Banks of the Sadji

by Keffy R.M. Kehrli

My city is at the fork of two rivers, where the Sadji, river of my people, flows into the Koretl, a river that brings the rest of the world to us, brings empire to us, brings new spices and fabrics and magics to us, and flows away with our old selves, shed like snakeskin on the banks.

Sadji water runs thick with silt; it is the same red-brown as clay and the four unripe cocoa beans that my younger brother, Naje, brought to us from the north. Naje is dead now, dead of five bullets, one for each of the Northern Houses, the past-due payment earned by traitors.

The Koretl is a deep and sodden green, the color of glaciers tempered by the additions of a hundred southern rivers, each devoured by the hungry waters until they run as one. My older brother, Esha, said the color of it was more beautiful than the Sadji. He is also dead now, having caught a fever from the sick men he tended.

And now I am the last surviving brother, too violent to heal and too soft to fight, fishing from Sadji’s waters with my hands gone calloused from the nets.

PodCastle 222: The Secret Beach

Show Notes

Rated PG

The Secret Beach

by Tim Pratt

I pushed through the overgrown shrubs, barely making out a trail, and reached the fence, where I found the chain-link had been cut apart and then re-closed with fuzzy pipe cleaners, green and red and blue. (Does anyone use pipe cleaners to clean their pipes anymore, or are they produced exclusively as arts and craft supplies for children?) I carefully untwisted them and squeezed through the gap, snagging my sagging belly-flesh on a sharp end of wire and sucking in a hiss of air through my teeth.

Once I was through, I stood up, under a sky that was noticeably bluer and more cloudless than the one on the other side of the fence, and stared at the closest thing on Earth to infinity:

The ocean. Or, at least, an ocean.

PodCastle 221: A Hunter in Arin-Qin

Show Notes

Rated R for violence

A Hunter in Arin-Qin

by Daniel Abraham

At first, when the lights of my home still glimmered in the darkness behind me, the cold only chilled. Then, pressing through the snow with the effort of the chase keeping me warm, the cold bit.

At the end, it comforted.

It meant the worst kind of danger, but with fear itself a distant thing, even danger failed to seem dangerous. Snow cracked under my feet and caked the wool of my leggings. I wrapped my father’s hunting cloak tight about me. I walked because I could no longer run. Before me, the beast’s tracks softened under new-fallen snow, and with every moment, new flakes conspired to hide them further. The sword strapped to my back grew heavy, and I doubted my strength, even if the opportunity came. My daughter’s doom whispered with every pine branch that brushed against me. Gone.

Gone. Gone.

Slowly, the hunter within me–hard as stone and untouched by years of a different woman’s life–woke. Her eyes saw the fading edges of the beast’s track as time: two hours ahead of me, then three hours, then four. Her mind evaluated my shuffling stride and leaden hands. She tried to smile with my numbed lips; I felt her grim amusement. She knew a dead woman when she saw one.
I fell without knowing that I fell. My foot touched the snow. My knee touched it. My hip. My shoulders. The soft white filled my mouth and nose and eyes. It tasted like rain. I pressed my hands down, trying to rise, and the earth passed through my fingers like fog.

PodCastle 220: Iron-Eyes and the Watered Down World

Show Notes

Rated R for language and violence

Iron-Eyes and the Watered Down World

by Saladin Ahmed

Zok Ironeyes stared at the tilecard table before him and cursed softly as Hai Hai clacked down the Dragoness tile with a gloating grunt.

Hai Hai looked up from the table and locked her shiny black eyes on the innkeeper, her nose and whiskers twitching. The scraggle-haired, red faced fool avoided Hai Hai’s gaze with the shame of a man who’d been caught staring. Zok couldn’t fault the innkeeper’s curiosity. The man had probably seen only a handful of rabbitmen in his life, for few of Hai Hai’s people ever made it this far south. But if the proprietor of the preposterously-named King’s Crest Inn didn’t watch himself, he was like to get his nose broken at least. Hai Hai wasn’t one to indulge untraveled bumpkins’ gawking.