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PodCastle Interlude: Wing (Miniature 78)

Show Notes

Rated PG.

Editors’ Note: This week, we’re taking a small break and bringing you a miniature by one of our favorite authors. We’ll be back next week with a feature length story.


Wing

by Amal El-Mohtar

In a cafe lit by morning, a girl with a book around her neck sits quietly at a table.

She reads—not the book around her neck, which is small, only as long and as wide as her thumb, black cord threaded through a sewn leather spine, knotted shut. She reads a book of maps and women, turns every page as if it were a lock of hair, gently. Every so often, her fingers stray to the book that sits above her sternum, twist it one way, then the other; every so often, she sips her tea.

“What is written in your book?” asks the man who brought her the tea. She looks up.

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PodCastle 293: The High King Dreaming

Show Notes

Rated PG.


The High King Dreaming

by Daniel Abraham

The High King is not dead but dreaming, and his dreams are of his death.

The sun is bright in the blue expanse of sky, the meadow more beautiful than it had ever been in life because he sees it from above.  The banners of the kingdoms he unified shift in the gentle breeze: Stonewell, Harnell, Redwater, Leftbridge, Holt. The kings who bent their knees before him do so again, and again with tears in their eyes.  The Silver Throne is there, but empty. The scepter and whip lay crossed on its seat.  His daughter, once the princess and now the queen, sits at its foot, her body wrapped in mourning grey.  The pyre on which his body rests has no fuel beneath it. No acrid stench of pitch competes with the wildflower’s perfume. His beard is white, bright in the sun, and as full as frost. His shoulders are thick, as are his arms and his thighs.  His eyes are closed, but his lips hold the memory of a smile.  The blade Justice rests on his chest, weighing him down in death as it had in life.  His cold fingers hold it easily. He is like a statue of himself, and the legend still unwritten below him should be Grace and Power.

He does not recall what brought him low, nor does it matter.  He rose in an age of war when all nations stood against each other, and he forged peace.  The Eighteen Peaks, snowcapped and bright in the spring sun, have not looked down on bloodshed in a decade.  The keeps at Narrowford and Cassin store grain now.  Any child may walk the Bloody Bridge at Hawthor and return across it at nightfall.  Some lands he took at the point of a sword, some with a wise word, some by sharing grief with enemies who had expected their pain to draw forth only laughter, but with Justice in his hand and God in his heart, he remade the world into a better place than he had found it.

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PodCastle 292, Giant Episode: Scry

Show Notes

Dramatis Personae:

Eyre Isri Esth: The finest scryer on the planet, and the wife, or former wife, of Lun.

Eyr eth Lun: Esth’s former husband, head of a royal house, and protector of the fugitive prince Ibren.

Ben Tur Ibren: The fugitive prince, who is being hunted down by Karnun Dae.

Karnun Nameless Dae: An alien bent on revolution, and overthrowing the prince and his supporters.


Scry

by Anne Ivy

By dawn, the house of Eyr Eth Lun had fallen. Dead soldiers and laser-cauterized pieces of soldiers littered the stairs and bridges into the palace. The sun rose slowly over the spires, flushing the sky pink and pale blue, gleaming off broken glass, bringing color to the gore. Anubises, wading into the midst of the detritus, carried the bodies away. The dead, victorious and defeated alike, all went to the crematorium together.

The metal gates into the house hung warped and melted on their hinges. The inside echoed, empty, threatening. The first to set foot on the foyer’s metal floor had been electrocuted.

Eyr Eth Lun and his liege, the fugitive prince Ben Tur Ibren, were long gone. Some of Karnon Nameless Dae’s followers hoped their quarry—Lun and Ibren—was hiding somewhere in the house, sure to be flushed out. Most knew better. Lun’s soldiers had fought with the desperate furor of those who knew themselves dead. They’d been fighting to buy their masters time to escape, not to save their own lives. They’d succeeded, and their ranks—brave, loyal, and dead—lay in unflinching testament to the cost of Lun’s contingency plan.

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PodCastle 291: Seasonal Disorder

Show Notes

Rated PG


Seasonal Disorder

by Heather Shaw and Tim Pratt

I opened my freezer to get some ice for my first gimlet of the day and heard a tiny tapping sound coming from one of the ice trays. I thought about slamming the freezer door shut and running for my car in the driveway, tearing away to the southern hemisphere months early, but I still have some residual sense of responsibility, so I stood there and waited.

One of the ice cubes cracked, and a tiny bluish-gray hand broke through, grabbing the side of the tray. A creature about the size of a mouse but more-or-less human in form climbed out of the broken ice cube and flopped out to sprawl, panting, on top of a bag of frozen peaches I use to make blended drinks full of rum. “My queen,” it said. “You are needed.”

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