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The Missing Morning

The Missing Morning by Tim Reed One day my granddaughter said something harmless, with all the candour of girls her age, but it tickled me funny – though I couldn’t tell you why. “Granddad, why do our Saturday mornings always go missing?” I mused on that innocent question for a moment, putting down the broadsheet and staring her straight in the eyes. “They don’t go missing, Katy,” I muttered, full of my usual tact. “You’ve just had it. Waking up, breakfast, bath – ALL this morning.” She bit her lip, went back to fiddling with her Barbie, and I thought the matter had dropped. I was wrong. “No, but that wasn’t THE morning, just stuff that I do every morning. The morning went missin’, while we moved along, and now it’s afternoon, granddad. Don’t it feel . . . funny?” I sighed, accustomed to her strange speech and children’s bona fide logic. “I do feel funny,” I admitted, and her blue eyes momentarily lit up. “Always do after one of Mrs Jackson’s lunches.” Mrs Jackson was our housekeeper – a silent, sullen type who looked at Katy like an elephant does a mouse. She was also an ‘interesting’ cook, creating concoctions that always ended up looking like moss scraped from a stone. “Don’t joke, grandpa,” replied Katy, pouting. “This is serious stuff. Don’t you like philos…philosphying with me?” “The...

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The Dragon Blade

The Dragon Blade by R. S. Pyne Art by Christine Graham The market town of Hard Riding waited, ready as it would ever be for the three day sword fair soon to descend on it. Jevan Blade-master sat in the early morning sunshine with a large, stave-bound tankard of ale and watched the road, a favorite hammer resting on his lap. His forge was carefully sited for this very purpose, an ideal place to while away the rare moments when he did not have ‘too much to do’. You can die from that, his father said, the old man quickly proving himself right by dropping down dead in the middle of an impatient warlord‘s order. For much of the year‘s turning, Far-western Hundred towns saw few strangers, but the midsummer trading event drew them like wasps to a mug of honey beer. “Are you still here?” he said to his apprentice. Kai was twelve years old, and unable to settle to sweeping the floor. The son of his favorite sister, desperate to go to the fair, but he lacked the courage to ask for a day off. The boy was away with the fairies and, in a place of red hot metal and large hammers, such distraction often proved fatal. “Get yourself away before I change my mind.” “If you are sure,” Kai hesitated, sent on his way with...

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The Inheritance

The Inheritance by Jenna McKay Art by Dale Bott   “A Griffin?” Thomas stared uncomprehendingly at the letter. “What on earth am I supposed to do with a Griffin?” The postman shrugged. “Beats me, mate. But it’s also none of my business. Can you just sign here?” Thomas sighed and signed the little red pocketbook being held out to him. The postman bowed and hobbled away down the path in his too-tight uniform. Thomas shut the oak door, shaking his head. He leaned back against the door. “What on earth am I supposed to do with a Griffin?” “We could eat it,” came a voice from the table. Thomas turned. Maude wasn’t even looking up from her dried flowers. “I bet the meat would last all winter. And the fur would make a lovely rug.” Thomas glared at his wife. “Don’t be ridiculous, darling. Auntie Jocinda would turn in her grave. It was her most prized possession. It . . . ,” he blinked in disbelief, scarcely acknowledging the words as they came from his constricted throat. “It’s name was Eric.” “Eric?” Maude snorted. “Well, that’s a silly name for a Griffin.” She pushed her chair away from the table and stood up, folding her blue-rimmed glasses and placing them on the table. She looked quizzically at Thomas. “Tea?” “Oh? Yes, yes. Thank you.” Thomas tottered numbly to the...

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Thin Blood

Thin Blood By James Lecky Art by Dale Bott The bird was an ill omen, I was certain of that. But then, the world was so full of portents that one more would scarcely make a difference. Still. “Good day to you, brother magpie,” I said as I passed, hoping to dispel at least a little of the creature’s glamour. “I hope the season finds you well.” The bird cocked its head to one side, as if contemplating an answer. None came, nor did I expect one. There had been a time when my people knew the secret language of birds and beasts, but those days had long since gone. “If anyone should ask, tell them that Elathan of the Aos Si passed this way,” I said, knowing that my words were foolish but held by ancient custom to speak them. The bird continued to stare at me as I made my way down the wooded slope and into the valley. I could feel its glittering black eyes trained on my back, at the small harp slung there and the two short swords that hung in colourful scabbards from my hips. I turned to throw an idle salute, but the bird had gone, mollified by my greeting, perhaps. “Good hunting to you, brother,” I said. There was a small stream running southward through the valley so I followed its...

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Masks

Masks by Megan Arkenberg Snow fell the morning Moretta came to the Queen’s Mirror, blanketing the muddy inn-yard like a layer of ceruse. Lelio and I sat at the edge of the façade balcony, our heads shielded by the gray and peeling Heavens, our legs dangling over the rush-covered stage. The paint flakes and blowing snow stuck to the black-work on my skirt. “What brings her here?” Lelio whispered, his ink-stained fingers plucking at the embroidery. “An actress with half her talent could find better employ anywhere in the city.” “Maybe she’s with child.” I brushed his hands away and folded my legs up to my chest. In the gallery box directly across from us, I could see Moretta’s slender shadow playing across the benches. “Do you remember what happened to Sybell at Midsummer? Even the Keys wouldn’t take her on. I think she wound up at the Tulip. Valentyne was furious.” Lelio shook his head. “It isn’t that. You saw the costumes she brought with her. Even if she was a whore—and I don’t think she is—Valentyne would accept her in a heartbeat, if only to get his hands on all that damask and samite.” He blinked away the snowflakes clinging to his lashes. “What part should I write for her, do you think?” “Goddess and Queen,” I snapped. “We haven’t done a Maiden’s Tragedy since I was...

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