Seven Diamonds for Soqqith

“Deliver the gem to Nushaba,” Soqqith whispered. “Break my chains, and you shall be a mother again.”

By Austin Worley

A native of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, Austin Worley writes speculative fiction and poetry. His published stories include heroic fantasy, Weird Westerns inspired by the rich history of his home state, and genre-bending tales starring the vigilante Whippoorwill. When he isn't writing, Austin enjoys amateur astronomy and astrophotography, reading, video games, and spending time with his family. You can follow him on Twitter @AMWorley_Writer.


When Hawwa bint Huda el-Zaidi spied a column of smoke rising against the rosy sky, the voice in her head spoke for the first time all week.

“Hurry!”

She stiffened at the desperation dripping from his voice. Before now, Soqqith only ever addressed her with sibilant whispers. Soft. Gentle. Almost a lullaby. Nothing like his latest command. Why would smoke worry a creature mighty enough to grant her powers beyond imagination and promise even more?

“Hurry!”

Anxiety fluttered in her chest. The smoke…wasn’t it rising from the northeast? And didn’t her maps say the ancient ruins of Nushaba stood off that way? Oh gods! Someone threatened the temple, and if his acolytes fell before she delivered her cargo—

 


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The Silversmith and the Silver-tongued

Beautiful ladies dressed to the nine in colorful lace and silk gracefully dance their way down the stairs; the guardsmen are still, captivated. The dancers were as real as day, brushing up against the guards, enticing them to dance. And they did.

“No, you fools. Cover your ears!” The silversmith presses his hands over his ears, his smarter sons doing the same… The boy shakes his head and rests the music box on his knees, slapping his cheeks with his hands to wake himself up.

By Kizzie Le Carpentier

Kizzie Le Carpentier is a graduate of Plymouth University in the U.K. She published her first book, "The Walk Back Home" in June of 2021.

I love books, movies and stories that unravel a new world with new creatures. I love it when a writer makes up something completely new and unreal - but I love it even more when a writer can convince me that their fantasy world could be real.

Kizzie Le Carpentier


A room. A cold room but a lively room, a cluttered room but an exciting room. A silversmith amongst his silverware sits on a stall hunched over his silver desk, his feet not touching the ground, his eyes fixated on his liney hands. He’s screwing the last screw. 

Nubbly fingers holding a nubbly box, what kind of a box?

 


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The Will of the Whip

Then there was a soft spitting noise, like a match flaring to light. Evelos glanced between his fingers, and there was Keelath, the wuyon’mar’s angular face twisted in rage, holding his sword in one hand and a ball of furious Light magic in the other.

“Take your claws off my son,” his father growled.

The Will of the Whip

By A. Broadhead


“…this life, witho-o-out you.”

Mirium drew the final note to a careful quaver, then bowed as her small audience erupted into clapping. Face glowing, the wuyon’mar stepped down from the Halfmoon Tavern’s stage and sat down between her two adult children, Medi and Evelos.

“What did you think?” she whispered.

“It was beautiful,” said Evelos. “I think you’re getting your talent back.”

“Oh, you think you could do better?” Medi quipped, nudging Evelos in the ribs.

“Well, I do have a story I could tell,” said Evelos thoughtfully, as the crowd settled again and Lana took to stage to call out for the next participant. “It’s from when I was a child.”

“You were a child once??” Medi goggled.

“Erm, yes,” said Evelos. “It’s about when we first moved to Thalas’talah, away from the Dawnmist manor. It was years before you were born, though.”

Medi leaned back in disappointment. “Really? That sounds bore-ring!”

“I think you’ll find it’s not.” Continue reading “The Will of the Whip”

Axes and Lightning: A Leader’s Path

“The humans are coming, and there are too many of them. We need to negotiate peace with them. We need them to see that we are more than just beasts.” The shaman paused. “This is why, from this day forward, you will not carry axes when there is no enemy present. Blood duels are banned!”

Axes and Lightning: A Leader’s Path

By Greg Rowson


Part 1

A crowd of hoghers gathered in a large circle in the center of the village, which primarily consisted of huts made of animal skin and bones of large beasts. Their attention was entirely on two hoghers in the center, who glared at each other with deadly intensity, each gripping their axes that gleamed in the midday sun.

“You… you killed my brother. You will pay, Tangarth!”

“Your brother killed my father, and you can join him in hell, Gartan!”

“Your father shouldn’t have stolen from my brother’s farm!”

“Your brother should have paid my father! Your entire family are scoundrels with no honor.”

“That’s enough.” Gartan’s green face flushed red. “Now you die!” Continue reading “Axes and Lightning: A Leader’s Path”

All They Had

He looked at her. He saw her careworn face, her red hair bound up and starting to lose its shine with the onset of her age… He imagined what life could’ve been like, if it was her hand he had held at the summer gala…

All They Had

By A. Broadhead

This piece was a response to a short writing prompt: write a dialogue in which the two characters are almost having a big fight, but not quite. I chose Tyrric and Mirium for this scene as that’s something they often do! What came out of it isn’t quite a dialogue, but I’m happy with how it illustrates the ongoing tension between them.

As far as canon goes, this scene would’ve been set roughly before Keelath returned from the dead but while Tyrric was still dating Alelsa. It’s not entirely accurate to that timeline though, mostly because I wanted to write a scene that was self-contained –one you could pick up and read without knowing anything about the rest of Sunwalker lore. So, enjoy it as a illustrative piece if not a completely factual one!

Author’s Note

“Lord Tyrric, we really need to talk about your taste in horses.”

Tyrric looked up from the handwritten ledgers spread across his desk. Mirium was standing across from him, hands on her hips, in that “I’m about to make some trouble” kind of way that always set his heart racing.

“Yes. Ah. What about?” he answered, calmly enough despite his distraction. Continue reading “All They Had”

The First Bastion

“That was Henrik. He was oath-bound to serve the Kingdom, and look where it got him. Anyway, it’s not just the new tax, is it? It’s all the other new taxes over the past year. Taxes on windows, on doors, on the number of people living under one roof, the tax for actually having a roof.”

The First Bastion

By Alelsa


“Damn it all, Lieutenant.  He’s gone too far this time.”  Captain Zemlander of the City Guard stood on the battlements of the First Bastion, looking down at the angry mob forming below.  Amongst the masses of ragged peasants with torches and pitchforks he could even see the occasional leather or mail-armored soldier waving a sword.

“What do you mean, Captain?”  Lieutenant Beckerman frowned at his superior officer. “Who has gone too far? You know who is organizing all of this?”

“No. I don’t mean them. I mean the King.  His new tax, the so-called ‘tax collection tax’ that’s supposedly to charge people for the privilege of having their taxes collected.  No wonder the people are up in arms.  I really can’t say I blame them, can you?”

“Well, sir.  I mean… we’re oath-bound to serve the Kingdom, aren’t we?”

Zemlander looked down again and winced as one of the Guard were pulled from the steps of the building and dragged into the crowd.  Bits of Guard armor were ejected randomly, but the body disappeared under the mass of humanity.

He turned away, a look of disgust on his face. “That was Henrik, the poor bastard.  He was oath-bound to serve the Kingdom, and look where it got him.  Anyway, it’s not just the new tax, is it?  It’s all the other new taxes over the past year.  Taxes on windows, on doors, on the number of people living under one roof, the tax for actually having a roof.”

“We’re at war, sir.  It’s needed to fund the army.”  Beckerman appeared almost insulted by the sudden verbal attack on their monarch – certainly more so than by the physical one on his subordinate below.

“The army?  Please be serious, Beckerman. He disbanded half the army last month.  That’s why they’re out there in the crowd. They have no job, nowhere to live. They were just dumped on the city and told to find a way to fit in, when nobody has any money to employ them.  All this talk of goblins coming down out of the mountains? It was just an excuse to further fill the royal coffers.”

Beckerman gave him an uncomfortable look. “I’m sorry, sir, but I really can’t listen to any more of this.  The King is our sovereign ruler, chosen by the gods. It’s our place to follow his commands.”

Zemlander walked towards the stairs, unbuckling his breastplate as he went.  “Come with me, Beckerman.”

“Sir?”  The Lieutenant followed him down the spiral stone staircase that disappeared into the depths of the First Bastion.  Originally part of the castle that the city was formed around, it now paled into insignificance next to the Royal Palace, even more so since the present King had added four new wings, including one incredibly lavish one of gold and glass to house his new state ballroom.

“They’re not going to stop.  Not until they break through the gates and get to the palace itself.  We don’t have the numbers to hold them off.  Half the first shift didn’t even show up this morning. I think I actually spotted a few of them out in the crowd.”

“Traitors!”  Beckerman exclaimed.

“Really?  And when he decides the next place he can make cuts is in the City Guard?  What then?  What about when it’s your family starving, while he continues to have the best food shipped in from the south for the court?  What happens when it’s your brother’s farm that gets burned down by the King’s ‘collectors’ for being unable to pay more gold than he actually has?  Remember this, Beckerman, our oath is to the Kingdom.  Not to the King.  The Kingdom also means the city, the farms, the villages.  The people.” 

They reached the ground floor and kept going, into the old dungeons.  “Sir, I don’t understand. Do you have a plan of some kind? An escape tunnel, perhaps?”

“Lock me up, Beckerman.  This one, right here.”  Captain Zemlander pointed to the small, filthy cell.  After the city prison had been built, the cells in the First Bastion were only rarely used.  “Oh, yes.  You’ll need a reason.  The King is an ass.”  He unbuckled his sword belt, and let it drop with a clatter.

Beckerman’s eyes went wide. “Sir?”

“You heard me.  I’ve now broken that new law of his.  Arrest me and lock me up. At least when the mob arrives they’ll see I’m one of them and not one of… us.”

“I… I see, Sir.”

Zemlander threw his mail gloves onto the floor outside the cell.  “You don’t call me that any more, Beckerman.  I just forfeited my command.  To you, I believe: you’ve got seniority. I noticed Lieutenant Lanniker was out in the crowd too.”

Lieutenant Beckerman paused for a moment.  “I see.  Well, I’ll be right back, sir. I mean, Citizen Zemlander.” 

“What do you mean? Where are you going?”

“To get Sergeant Winterstein.”  The name of the grizzled old veteran made Zemlander go pale; Winterstein also doubled as the city executioner for those who had committed serious crimes.

“Winterstein? Wait… You’re going to have him kill me?”

“Of course not!  But I’m going to need him, aren’t I?”

“What for, Beckerman?” asked Zemlander.

Beckerman gave his former commander a grin. “To lock me in the next cell along, of course!”