Archive for Rated PG-13

PodCastle 519: Burning Season

Show Notes

Rating: PG-13, for things unspeakable.

It was burning season in Rashid. Again.

Even in the shop, I could smell the smoke. Can you believe I used to like the smell of burning paper? With my eyes closed, I can still see pages glow red before they burst into flame and curl into ash until they crumble.

I clerked at a small sundries shop in Commercial. The owner was a Duchies woman, one hand peach-pale, the other brown as her shop counter. She had no love for the All-King, who had toppled her Grand Duchess, but you don’t need love to run a business, just enough money to buy mercy. After that expenditure, though, she couldn’t afford to hire a licensed Translator. Coincidentally, I couldn’t afford a license, so she paid me a little extra to quietly broker transactions from the non-Duchies customers and shippers she couldn’t understand.

I am an Omniloquist. Some say we’re a curse the last true Rashidan king put on his enemies before he died, so that we’ll never flounder helpless under a conqueror. More say we have no true power, just an uncanny ability to pick up foreign sounds quickly. Until the All-King came, I was inclined to think the latter. We were a skill with a guild, like any other. And then he came, with his Collectors. There’s nothing natural about them. Maybe there’s nothing natural about us. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 517: A Fine Balance

Show Notes

Rated PG-13 for honorable duelists and some less honorable warfare.

A Fine Balance

By Charlotte Ashley

My mistress, Shoanna Yildirim, was the greatest shot in the city.

Each morning, according to her wishes, I cleaned and loaded her revolving pistol. I oiled the clip on her holster and checked the stitches in the leatherwork. I strung a fresh sash of weighted bullets and laid it by the vanity over her scarves.

“Your pistol, Mistress,” I would say to her as she rose from the mirror, her wide, brown lips and dark, sly eyes painted to perfection.

“Thank you, Emin,” she always replied. “But I will not need it today.”

Each morning, she left the gun where it lay. Mistress Yildirim was the greatest shot in the city, but she hunted Kara Ramadami with a blade. That was just one of the many rules of sahidi. (Continue Reading…)

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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…)

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PodCastle 513, ARTEMIS RISING: We Head for the Horizon and Return with Bloodshot Eyes

Show Notes

Rated PG-13, for war and gore.

We Head for the Horizon and Return with Bloodshot Eyes

by Eleanna Castroianni

August 14th, 1949

Near Kançikon, Pindhos

The heart had already stopped beating — small animal in glistening glory, trapped between rosy lungs. Burgundy liver and sickly gall I passed; bones and marrow hold more secrets. Intoxicated, I shoved my hands into the soldier’s lush entrails — still so warm — and moved them around, making them swish and rustle like mouldy autumn leaves. I sought for patterns; I listened, waiting for echoes of the Next World, waiting for the Voices that Know and Tell.

My breath got caught in my throat and for a few moments I couldn’t find air. As I hastily drew my bloodied hands out of the soldier’s belly, I burst into a cough so strong I thought I’d spit my guts on top of the butchered soldier. Vanghelio, battling her sickness at what I had been doing, turned to face me. She grabbed my wrists and steadied me on the ground.

“Nafsika,” she begged, “what happened? What did you see?”

I won’t write what I saw, not until we are closer to Base. Bones and entrails never lie and I’m not risking the enemy getting hold of this notebook. Before I joined the army I was a butcher’s daughter who saw the future in the remains of dead animals on my father’s table. Every single time I was right, no matter how little the Major wanted to believe me. Now I need to write this story down because I know what I saw in those bones, because our comrades are in danger, because soon the royalist fascists will be here. Because Major didn’t believe me and now I have a chance to save myself, to save Vanghelio.

We’re going back, mission aborted. (Continue Reading…)