Fire-gilding

Beyond the west of the world, where the sun cannot be seen, lies Crow Hearth – the city of ice and stone. A city out of time, lost beneath the snow and beyond the turn of the world. Men scurry through the lightless streets, holding their warm coats close until they can escape down into the rats’ nest of heated tunnels that make the bulk of the city. Down now, down again. Through the tunnels. Follow the insistent ticking that lives somewhere behind the mind and pushes further onward. Don’t touch the men with blue-and-white carbuncles upon their skin, and pale light in their eyes – they are touched by the Heart and lost to the world.    Down now, down again. Tick tick tick.[…]

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keepongoin

Tremblay lay against gunwale, smoking a cheroot. The wind whipped up around the ship, and snatched away his smoke. A thousand miles of open ocean lay before him but hells, he loved a challenge. He didn’t have magic, or money, or even a crew; he had a boat, and a broken heart, and the wind behind him. Welta would’ve known what to do but he was–   –elsewhere. Elsewhere with his beautiful smile and his wonderful strong arms. Elsewhere with his mushy poems and his big eyes that teared up when he heard the wrong song. Tremblay ran a hand through his greying hair: was he really getting so old? When they’d met, they were the same age. As Tremblay’d got slower, and heavier, Welta[…]

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What Ukto Saw

In Enji, the citizens fell through the world. On the eighth day of summer when the sun was high over the sand, their floors and streets swallowed them. Many died or disappeared, but some did not – they were stuck jutting from the earth, alive, with twisted limbs and bent backs. This is not interesting in-and-of-itself; in the world of Ataal, such things are commonplace. Enji is different, because Enji went on. On the eighth day of summer, not all of Enji was inside Enji. Not all of a city’s work happens in the city: farmers in the fields, hunters in the desert, mystics sitting upon marble pillars. They did not fall through the earth and when they returned home, they found their loved ones[…]

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choking on the tail

Wallace washed ashore on a carpet of bones. Salt crusted into an ugly map in the lines of his hands. He retched, bringing up bile, brine and little else. Convulsions shook his body, and the shaking drove him deeper into the bones. They cut him, and he cried out. They were beyond counting: tiny fragile ones from fish, but larger ones, perhaps from men. He collapsed eye-to-eye with a seal skull. It still had a smearing of skin and flesh attached. Its mouth lay open, and where its tongue had been was only a stump. The whole air was thick with the buzzing of flies. One landed on his face. He felt its tiny feet scratching across his skin. He jerked his head back, and[…]

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Up-and-up-and-up

Wending down through stone, and loam lies land where men may find a home — we wind our way through tunnels tight and do not stray up-to the Light. William left his level. It’s more complicated than that, but it’ll have to do. He moved through the old stone corridors, eyes wide, ears attentive to the sound of beasts. Everybody knew if you walked up into the Light Level, you got et. No ceremony to it, no songs — just crunched up and et like a crumb of biscuit: buh-bye idiot. That’s what made it so exciting. Everybody talked about how Light was dangerous and Light would burn you. His dad especially had told him that the Light was where the most dangerous monsters got[…]

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