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The Price of Abolition

  The Price of Abolition By Thomas J. Lauser   After Alistair Blackwood released his slaves, the Expansionist party, who held the majority in the Imperial Council of Twenty Three, declared him a traitor. In a statement penned by Alistair’s younger brother Letherious, they accused the abolitionist of violating customs sacred to both the Empire and their God-Hero, The Ascendant. A few hours later, the Restitution party, their minority rivals, published a declaration of their own. They too condemned Alistair’s actions, but stopped short of labeling him an enemy to the Empire. Meanwhile, Emperor Ferdinand III remained oddly mum,...

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Safe Refuge

  Safe Refuge By Teel James Glenn   The tavern was called The Refuge and was almost empty, save for the bartender, Manda, five paying customers and a lone woman sitting at the bar muttering to herself while a dejected, mandolin player sang an old ballad. Kovar priest Erique Shoutte, Arinna Cabal, and Yuzen entered and took seats at the back of the room. Arinna sat with her back to the rear door and leaned back so her chair was balanced on two legs. Yuzen sat with her hand draped with relaxed familiarity on the little swordswoman’s arm. She...

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Hunting Gryphon

  Hunting Gryphon By Patrick S. Baker   The land gryphon leapt from the dark wood, grabbed one of the teenage boys by the head and bit it off with a sickening wet snap of its beak. The two other boys screamed and ran. Four older men, guarding the women and children and all armed with muskets turned to the noise. Another gryphon broke from cover and made for the large group. Two of the men fired; both inch-wide lead balls struck the creature in its feathered chest. The monster fell back, wounded, but not dead. The whole mass...

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Demon’s Path

  Demon’s Path By Eddie D. Moore   “Brother Calum, where are you going?” Calum selected a worn black book from a small bookshelf and tossed it on top of his clothes before latching his foot chest. “I can’t just sit here and let that demon run free. How many more people will it kill, Brother Aiden, before someone stops it?” “The Church has people trained to hunt these abominations; this isn’t your responsibility!” Calum picked up his chest and shook his head before marching passed Aiden. “The truth is that our world is infested, and it’s the Church’s...

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The Last Tree Nymph

The Last Tree Nymph by Tapanga Koe   Elma woke up covered in ash. She laid still in it, blinking away first the nightmare, and then the reality. The fire had flashed by, consuming her kin without hesitation. Darkened tree trunks with jagged tops encircled the edges of her vision in a nauseous dance. Embers glowed in their blackened remains. Her left hand tightened around the pouch on her chest. She ran her thumb over and over its cool silk. Within nestled twenty-one seeds, not one of which belonged to Mother. With great care, Elma stood. The world around...

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