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PodCastle 755: Aurum & Indigo

Show Notes

Rated R


Aurum & Indigo

By LP Kindred

 

Aurum sits on a wooden stool, hunched over the oakwood bar, stained darker by shellac and low lights. In spite of them, he stares into his book while a second lies closed atop the bar. His feet dangle, kicking softly. Eyes rake over words but their meaning never reaches his mind. The barman doesn’t offer a mug of ale as often as the skulking leches whose eyes scrub his body in hopes of finding interest in his eyes.

Aurum manages to avert his eyes — the book — when they come calling, but his heart triple beats each time the door opens and Shikaakwa cold invades the warm dark. After scouring the door, he draws his book closer.

There is a gentleman caller for whom Aurum journeyed from the Deep South to City Center. The nightmare of crosstown travel hastened Aurum to leave with abundant time to arrive punctually. Consequently, Aurum arrived one hour and one quarter before their arranged time to meet. Should anyone be this nervous about a man he’s already inundated?

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 754: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – The One They Took Before

Show Notes

Rated PG

This episode is a part of our Tales from the Vaults series, in which a member of PodCastle’s staff chooses a backlist episode to highlight and discuss. This week’s episode was chosen by associate editor Tarver Nova. “The One They Took Before” originally aired as PodCastle 388.


The One They Took Before

by Kelly Sandoval

 

Rift opened in my backyard. About six feet tall and one foot wide. Appears to open onto a world of endless twilight and impossible beauty. Makes a ringing noise like a thousand tiny bells. Call (206) 555-9780 to identify.

Kayla reads the listing twice, knowing the eager beating of her heart is ridiculous. One page back, someone claims they found a time machine. Someone else has apparently lost their kidneys.

The Internet isn’t real. That’s what she likes about it. And if the post is real, the best thing she can do is pretend she never saw it.

After all, she’s doing better. She sees a therapist, now. She’s had a couple of job interviews.

She calls the number.

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PodCastle 753: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – Piety, Prayer, Peacekeeper, Apocalypse

Show Notes

Rated PG-13

This episode is a part of our Tales from the Vaults series, in which a member of PodCastle’s staff chooses a backlist episode to highlight and discuss. This week’s episode was chosen by associate editor Andrew K. Hoe. “Piety, Prayer, Peacekeeper, Apocalypse” originally aired as PodCastle 449.


Piety, Prayer, Peacekeeper, Apocalypse

by Rati Mehrotra

Soru Khara had been hunting her death for many years before she arrived at the crumbling old port of Tyron. She camouflaged her skimmer and stalked up to the rusty gates as the sun set over the citadel, the fishy tang of the sea sharp in her nostrils. The smell of childhood—the smell of things best left buried. It was why she usually avoided ports. This time, though, she had no choice. She was to deliver a letter, like a common messenger. She had not questioned the inanity of her assignment. One did not question the Voice of the Star Emperor; one merely obeyed it.

“Halt!” Crossed spears barred her way into the passage under the city walls. A man with the insignia of the Umnia falcon stepped up to her. “No one enters the city between sunset and sunrise.”

Soru Khara swept her gaze over the company. A captain and ten guards, and they expected to take on a death-hunter. Possibly they did not know who she was. She withdrew the letter with the seal of Yimri and waved it front of the captain’s stony face. “A message for Queen Lariel from her master. It cannot wait till morning.”

The captain held out a gloved hand. “Give it to me and I will deliver it.”

“No,” said Soru Khara, feeling her patience crumble. “I must deliver it myself. Do not delay me, Captain. I have skimmed six days across the continent to reach your little village. Is this how you treat messengers from the Star Emperor?”

“Village?” said the captain, affronted. “Tyron is the capital of Umnia. Watch your tongue, messenger.”

“Umnia is but one of the eight realms on Earth, and Earth is but one planet under the Star Emperor’s authority,” said Soru Khara. She slipped the letter back into her pocket and allowed her voice to gain an edge. “Get out of my way. I have no wish to shed blood tonight.”

“You threaten the Umnian Guard?” The man whipped out a scimitar from the scabbard at his waist. The curved blade glinted in the flickering light of the oil lamps that hung on both sides of the gate. “Leave, before I separate your swollen head from its pitiful body.”

He meant to frighten her, not to kill her. Also, she was a guest in Tyron, however unwelcome. Soru Khara took these things into consideration and summoned Piety, her least lethal weapon. A sudden drain of energy, heat above her palm, and Piety appeared: a blue ball crackling with electricity.

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PodCastle 752: The Music on the Hill

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


“Traveler’s Guide to the City of Intrigue” advert voiced, scored, and produced by Eric Valdes.

 

The Traveler’s Guide to the City of Intrigue is an expansion book for the 5th edition of the world’s most litigious roleplaying game, about a city ruled by a council of bizarre and fantastical aristocrats: The people-eating ghouls of the Grave Society, the brutal, feudal aristocrats of the Galloway Orcs, the austere and sinister Church of the Blood Pentarchy, the fey-aligned circus of the Carnival Occultus, and the cruel dark elves of House Evnesh. Find out what they’re up to and how you can stab them in the back by looking for the Traveler’s Guide to the City of Intrigue on Kickstarter now or DriveThruRPG in the future.

Previous books in the series can be found here: https://chamomilehasa.blog/chamomile-has-adventures


The Music on the Hill

by Saki

 

Sylvia Seltoun ate her breakfast in the morning-room at Yessney with a pleasant sense of ultimate victory, such as a fervent Ironside might have permitted himself on the morrow of Worcester fight. She was scarcely pugnacious by temperament, but belonged to that more successful class of fighters who are pugnacious by circumstance. Fate had willed that her life should be occupied with a series of small struggles, usually with the odds slightly against her, and usually she had just managed to come through winning. And now she felt that she had brought her hardest and certainly her most important struggle to a successful issue. To have married Mortimer Seltoun, “Dead Mortimer” as his more intimate enemies called him, in the teeth of the cold hostility of his family, and in spite of his unaffected indifference to women, was indeed an achievement that had needed some determination and adroitness to carry through; yesterday she had brought her victory to its concluding stage by wrenching her husband away from Town and its group of satellite watering-places and “settling him down,” in the vocabulary of her kind, in this remote wood-girt manor farm which was his country house.

“You will never get Mortimer to go,” his mother had said carpingly, “but if he once goes he’ll stay; Yessney throws almost as much a spell over him as Town does. One can understand what holds him to Town, but Yessney . . . ” and the dowager had shrugged her shoulders.

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 751: Flash Fiction Extravaganza – Mortality

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


“Traveler’s Guide to the City of Intrigue” advert voiced, scored, and produced by Eric Valdes.

 

The Traveler’s Guide to the City of Intrigue is an expansion book for the 5th edition of the world’s most litigious roleplaying game, about a city ruled by a council of bizarre and fantastical aristocrats: The people-eating ghouls of the Grave Society, the brutal, feudal aristocrats of the Galloway Orcs, the austere and sinister Church of the Blood Pentarchy, the fey-aligned circus of the Carnival Occultus, and the cruel dark elves of House Evnesh. Find out what they’re up to and how you can stab them in the back by looking for the Traveler’s Guide to the City of Intrigue on Kickstarter now or DriveThruRPG in the future.

Previous books in the series can be found here: https://chamomilehasa.blog/chamomile-has-adventures


The Stars That Fall

by Samantha Murray

 

When Sara asks me if I want to go doom-spotting I say yes. Of course I say yes. The Edge Lookout is dark and rocky and romantic, and I usually say yes to anything Sara suggests. And I’ve been addicted to doom-hunting ever since I was nine and got my first telescope.

“Why do you need to see it? You know it’s up there,” Ibu says, as I lug my viewing gear out to the car. All of my aunt’s once-dark hair is grey now.

“It’s meant to be lucky, if you find it,” I tell her.

“Mmpffh, lucky,” she says in her dry voice. Ibu does not believe in luck, only unluck.

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 750: We Are All of Us

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


We Are All of Us

by Deborah L. Davitt

 

They wore white armor, sleek and chitinous — not the white of chalk, but the white of bone peeking through the skin of a mummy. The white of a grub writhing in black river soil. They dwelled in the deep desert, where few of the Folk dared to tread, in cities carved from the bones of the earth. No one knew much about them, yet everyone knew everything that they needed to know. That they crawled into rock-cut tombs to devour the dead. That their cities wended for miles under the earth, and that they could dig up into a house at night to defile the living.

As blue first-sun set, and red second-sun rose, Suvan went out into her fields. Shared with her husband Petemet once, their lands lay at the periphery of the village, as far from the River as the canals could reach. Here, the black soil brought by the floods each year waned into the silver sand of the desert, and they’d wrested crops from it each year by dint of back-breaking labor. The tales of the priests spoke of a time when the devices of the gods and ancestors, carried through the void between the stars, had broken earth and sown seed, bringing plenty and ease to all.

Suvan had never known anything but ceaseless toil.
(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 749: Sungrass Girl

Show Notes

Rated PG-13

 

The music for the promotion intro is “Sneaky Snitch” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

 

Hey everyone, Alasdair here – hope you’re doing okay. The summer months are upon us, which means two things – hat weather for yours truly, and the part of our year when costs are high and support tends to dip. We know things are tight everywhere at the moment, and that includes us. For those of you who support us already, thank you so much. We hope you’re enjoying the great new CatsCast episodes. If you’d like to join them, we’ve got tons of options for you at Patreon and PayPal. Even a one-off at Ko-fi makes a big difference, or check out our great new swag store – maybe like me you need a hat! It all adds up, and helps us bring you the best in free audio fiction every week. Thanks, and enjoy this week’s episode.


Sungrass Girl

by Uchechukwu Nwaka

 

My first memory of the Light is her face. Her round eyes that swelled in curious wonder and innocent inquisition. I remember the way the light from the incandescent bulb fell on her face, outlining her dark skin in paint strokes of shimmering gold that twinkled right into her large doe eyes. Her smile was warm milk, her laughter the essence of happiness. Her hands — they were so small then, yet so calloused — reached under my forelimbs and she lifted me into the sky with an ebullition of glee so intoxicating, it reverberates through my bones till this day.

“An mmụọ!” she cried. The pitch did not startle me. Rather, it was joy lit in the pits of my gut. “Mama! Papa! An mmụọ!”

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 748: Colors of the Immortal Palette – Part 3

Show Notes

Rated R

“The Traveler’s Guide to the Goblin Fells is an expansion book for the 5th edition of the world’s most litigious roleplaying game, about halflings riding giant pugs fighting against goblins piloting arcanotech mechs for control of valuable farmland at the onset of a brutal winter. The harvest is lean and there’s not enough to go around, someone’s going to go hungry this winter, but it doesn’t have to be you. The Goblin Fells can be easily located in any campaign setting and use the Creative Commons Weskven setting by default, so look for it on Kickstarter now or DriveThruRPG in the future to support the open source setting and indie development.”

[Note: This is Part 3 of a three-part novelette. Visit our previous posts to read Part 1 and Part 2.]

 

ALIZARIN CRIMSON

 

I’m still fighting the ultramarine depths of despair some fifteen years later, when I meet Joshua at the Club DeLisa. We get to talking, a fragmented conversation to fill the space between sets. He’s a singer and he used to play trumpet in a swing band, up until he got caught in Chicago by wartime travel restrictions. Little Brother Montgomery and The Red Saunders Band are playing tonight, along with a comedian and some dancers.

“I love the music, but what really brings me here is the energy. It reminds me of the Café Guerbois —  in Paris. I used to go there with some artist friends of mine, painters who wanted to push boundaries and create something new.” There’s something about him or the music or the energy of the club tonight that compels me to keep talking. “The way the musicians build on each other, changing the nature of music, it fills me with nostalgia. They have a passion that I’ve been missing for a long time.”

He gives me a strange look. “You’re one of those immortals, like Pops.” (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 747: Colors of the Immortal Palette – Part 2

Show Notes

Rated R


“The Traveler’s Guide to the Goblin Fells is an expansion book for the 5th edition of the world’s most litigious roleplaying game, about halflings riding giant pugs fighting against goblins piloting arcanotech mechs for control of valuable farmland at the onset of a brutal winter. The harvest is lean and there’s not enough to go around, someone’s going to go hungry this winter, but it doesn’t have to be you. The Goblin Fells can be easily located in any campaign setting and use the Creative Commons Weskven setting by default, so look for it on Kickstarter now or DriveThruRPG in the future to support the open source setting and indie development.”

 


[Note: This is Part 2 of a three-part novelette. Visit our previous post to read Part 1.]

Colors of the Immortal Palette

by Caroline M. Yoachim

 

COBALT BLUE

 

I paint the English Channel at Étretat, shortly after sunrise. The sun is a fiery vermillion and the water shimmers cobalt blue. It is roughly my hundredth impression of a sunrise, spread across the year on whatever days I can gather up the energy to greet the dawn with my easel at the shore.

I have painted skies both cloudy and clear, water in a variety of hues. When the tide permits I paint from the beach and include the white cliffs, and when the tide is high —  as it is today —  I paint the vast expanse of the channel from atop them. Sometimes the dark silhouettes of ships break the line of the horizon, and sometimes there is fog, a thin white mist that gives me shivers not entirely accounted for by the crisp morning air. Monet set off a movement with his Impression, Sunrise, painted not far south of here. Monet, and before that Manet, changing the world of art forever. Or so the historians like to spin the tale, imposing order onto the chaotic jumble of the past, pulling a single narrative thread from the fabric of time. Providing a focal point, like the bright orange sun that hovers above the water. And their focal point, of course, must always be a man.

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 746: Colors of the Immortal Palette – Part 1

Show Notes

Rated R


The music for the promotion intro is “Sneaky Snitch” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

 

Hey everyone, Alasdair here – hope you’re doing okay. The summer months are upon us, which means two things – hat weather for yours truly, and the part of our year when costs are high and support tends to dip. We know things are tight everywhere at the moment, and that includes us. For those of you who support us already, thank you so much. We hope you’re enjoying the great new CatsCast episodes. If you’d like to join them, we’ve got tons of options for you at Patreon and PayPal. Even a one-off at Ko-fi makes a big difference, or check out our great new swag store – maybe like me you need a hat! It all adds up, and helps us bring you the best in free audio fiction every week. Thanks, and enjoy this week’s episode.


Colors of the Immortal Palette

by Caroline M. Yoachim

 

LEAD WHITE

 

I will always remember the view of Paris from his window. Snow, pure and untouched, softens the outline of the buildings and covers the grime of the streets. White, the color of beginnings. His canvas is primed and ready to be painted, and stark winter sunlight glows bright on his undead skin.

The studio is cramped, drafty despite the heat radiating from the stove. One corner is clean and lavishly decorated, the rest a cluttered chaos of painting supplies and personal effects. He studies me intently as I take in the room, evaluating me much as he did at the Café Guerbois when I’d first caught his eye.

I wait for him to ask how I came to be in Paris. Artists are so very predictable that way — no trouble at all accepting this pale immortal creature as one of their own, but a woman of my mixed ancestry? Utterly implausible.

“You should hear the stories they tell of you at the café,” he says. “If Émile is to be believed, you arrived here as a ukiyo-e courtesan, nothing more than paper wrapped around a porcelain bowl. A painter — he will not say which of us it was, of course — bought the bowl and the print along with it.”

“And the painter pulled me from the print with the sheer force of his imagination, I’m sure,” I reply, laughing. “Émile is a novelist and can hardly be trusted to give an accurate account. The reality of my conception is vastly more mundane, I assure you . . . though it does involve a courtesan.” (Continue Reading…)