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PodCastle 516c: 10th Anniversary Special, The Best of PodCastle #3 – Sinners, Saints, Dragons, and Haints, in the City Beneath the Still Waters

Show Notes

Rated R: Contains Language, Violence, and Disturbing Imagery circa Hurricane Katrina.

Editors’ note: This episode originally aired as PodCastle 154. We are reissuing it to celebrate PodCastle’s 10th anniversary. This story was in third place in a listener vote that was held to determine PodCastle’s most-loved episodes over the past decade.


Sinners, Saints, Dragons, and Haints, in the City Beneath the Still Waters

By N.K. Jemisin

Tookie sat on the porch of his shotgun house, watching the rain fall sideways.  A lizard strolled by on the worn dirt-strip that passed for a sidewalk, easy as you please, as if there wasn’t an inch of water already collected around its paws.  It noticed him and stopped.

“Hey,” it said, inclining its head to him in a neighborly fashion.

“‘Sup,” Tookie replied, jerking his chin up in return.

“You gon’ stay put?” it asked.  “Storm comin’.”

“Yeah,” said Tookie.  “I got food from the grocery.”

“Ain’ gon’ need no food if you drown, man.”

Tookie shrugged.

The lizard sat down on the sidewalk, oblivious to the driving wind, and joined Tookie in watching the rain fall.  Tookie idly reflected that the lizard might be an alligator, in which case he should maybe go get his gun.  He decided against it, though, because the creature had wide batlike wings and he was fairly certain gators didn’t have those.  These wings were the color of rusty, jaundiced clouds, like those he’d seen approaching from the southeast just before the rain began.

PodCastle 516b: 10th Anniversary Special, The Best of PodCastle #4 – In the Stacks

Show Notes

Rated R: Contains violence, some language, and the coolest, most dangerous library ever!

Editors’ note: This episode originally aired as PodCastle 200. We are reissuing it to celebrate PodCastle’s 10th anniversary. This story was tied for fourth/fifth position in a listener vote that was held to determine PodCastle’s most-loved episodes over the past decade.

The cast:

Norm Sherman as the Narrator
Peter Wood as Lazlo
Dave Thompson as Casimir
Wilson Fowlie as Master Molnar
M.K. Hobson as Astriza
Graeme Dunlop as Lev Bronzeclaw
Anna Schwind as Yvette
Ann Leckie, Alasdair Stuart, Talia, Occicat, and Marshal Latham as the Librarians, Indexers, and Vocubavores
and Rachel Swirsky as the Head Vocabuvore


In The Stacks

by Scott Lynch

On the clock outside the gate to the Manticore Wing of the library, the little blue flame was just floating past the symbol for high noon when Laszlo and Casimir skidded to a halt before a single tall figure.

“I see you two aspirants have chosen to favor us with a dramatic last-minute arrival,” said the man. “I was not aware this was to be a drama exam.”

“Yes, Master Molnar. Apologies, Master Molnar,” said Laszlo and Casimir in unison.

Hargus Molnar, Master Librarian, had a face that would have been at home in a gallery of military statues, among dead conquerors casting their permanent scowls down across the centuries. Lean and sinewy, with close-cropped gray hair and a dozen visible scars, he wore a use-seasoned suit of black leather and silvery mail. Etched on his cuirass was a stylized scroll, symbol of the Living Library, surmounted by the phrase Auvidestes, Gerani, Molokare. The words were Alaurin, the formal language of scholars, and they formed the motto of the Librarians:

RETRIEVE. RETURN. SURVIVE.

PodCastle 516a: 10th Anniversary Special, The Best of PodCastle #5 – Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy

Show Notes

Rated R. Contains violence, including gore.

Editors’ note: This episode originally aired as PodCastle 324. We are reissuing it to celebrate PodCastle’s 10th anniversary. This story was in fourth/fifth place in a listener vote that was held to determine PodCastle’s most-loved episodes over the past decade.


Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy

by Saladin Ahmed

I do not know how he brought us to this land of blood and iron masks. I know only that I am a real man trapped in a mad landscape of living lessons.

My brothers and I were spirited here from my home in…Damascus? Yes, praise be to God that I can remember that. The sound of the street-preachers, and the smells of the spice vendors’ stalls.

Damascus.

We were sipping tea in a room with green carpets, and I was laughing at a jest that…that someone was making. Who? The face, the voice, the name have been stolen from me. All I know is that my brothers and I suddenly found ourselves in this twisted place, each aware of the others’ fates, but unable to find one another. Unable to find any escape.

Now my eldest brother has been slain. And my next eldest brother has disappeared.

Who am I? I do not know how he changed our names. But in this world of lions and giants and the blinding shine of armor, I am called Joyless, as if it were a name.

It was not my name. It is not my name. But this is his place, and it follows his commands.

 

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PodCastle 515, ARTEMIS RISING: Propagating Peonies

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


This time, you were a burgeoning peony at the edge of a small cottage garden, stems ladened with clusters of dark fuchsia petals. Your scent perfumed the afternoon air, enveloping me as I walked my solitary way home. I did not want to wait for you.

I crept back towards the village that night, with the knife I’d plunged into your chest two human lives ago, when I discovered you at the Inn with another woman. The blade was blunt with age and use and it shredded your stem as I tried to take a cutting of you for myself. The worn handle slipped in my palms and its edge sliced into my thumb. Your heady fragrance mingled with the rust smell of the wound made me light-headed, as if I were fighting against the sweep of a thousand chaotic feathers. I managed to fold a piece of you in the blood-speckled hem of my blouse and went home to transplant you in my garden.

You shriveled up and died during the night. Peonies, I learned, could not be propagated by cuttings. (Continue Reading…)