Cast of Wonders 363: SOUL CLEAVER Clarence

Show Notes

Matthew told us, “This story began life as a PodCastle flash fiction contest entry. While it only made it to the semi-finals, Katherine Inskip commented that she’d love to see a longer version submitted to Cast of Wonders. Armed with this encouragement, I worked to fill out the characters, their struggles, and a plot. It took a fair amount of feedback and editing, but I was delighted that the finished story was one that Cast of Wonders was interested in publishing!”


SOUL CLEAVER Clarence

by Matthew J. Jarvis

“My dear dragon,” the princess announced as she held aloft Clarence’s topaz windflower, its gemstone petals glinting beautifully in the sun. “These are, without doubt, the finest sculptures in all the land!” Around him the humans attending the faire clapped enthusiastically. “State your name, dragon, and ask any favor in my power to grant, for you have truly won first prize.”

Clarence glowed with pride. “My name is–“

“SOUL CLEAVER!”

The thunder of his father’s roar shattered the late-afternoon quiet of the forest, as well as Clarence’s reverie. He clutched the real topaz windflower in his claws and frantically cast about for somewhere to hide it.

“Where are you, CLEAVER? A challenger has ascended from the little human faire!”

Panicking, Clarence tucked the sculpted flower beneath his wing just as Rangdor the Terrible’s scaly head bobbed into view.

“This is it, CLEAVER,” Rangdor cried, catching sight of Clarence, “the day you defeat your first knight! RA!”

“Another one?” Clarence groaned.

“No, no. This one is young, perfect for you to sharpen your teeth on!” Rangdor’s tail crashed into a nearby tree as he wheeled around.

“But…”

“But what, CLEAVER?”

Clarence could see the heat of his father’s excitement shimmering in waves around his snout. He tried to think of an excuse that would allow him to return to his latest sculpture but failed. It wasn’t as if he’d actually be able to show it at the faire anyways.

“Never mind,” Clarence said glumly, tightening his wing to hold the flower in place.

“Then come, CLEAVER! Victory awaits!”


“I call you forth, dragon, to face the justice of my sword!” The young knight stood beyond the tree line, her polished armor glinting in the light of the setting sun.

Rangdor nodded expectantly towards the knight. “Go on, son!”

With a sigh and some unavoidable snapping of branches, Clarence emerged into the mountain clearing and lumbered towards the challenger.

“Don’t forget the words!” Rangdor called after him.

Clarence tried to sound menacing as he bore down on the knight. “And you, human, will feel the wrath of my fire!”

He inhaled deeply to wreathe the small knight in flame, but accidentally sucked in a small passing bird. There was a strangled chirp, and he coughed out a plume of smoldering feathers.

The knight charged screaming at Clarence, slashing at his leg, but the angle was wrong, and the sword was knocked ringing from her grip.

“Attack!” cried Rangdor.

Clarence lifted a clawed foot to swipe at her.

“Do the roll, Denise!” called a human voice.

The young knight dove towards her sword, attempting to roll, but ending up flat on her back. A stream of tinny curses sounded from inside her helmet.

“Seriously, Denise?” A human woman stepped out from behind a boulder. Her armor was pitted and scarred where the young knight’s was gleaming and bright. “How many times have we practiced this? The dive-and-roll is your signature move!”

“It was your signature move, mother.” The grounded knight tugged off her helmet. “Why can’t mine be ‘the reasonable negotiation’?”

The older woman stepped in front of Clarence and hauled the young knight, armour and all, to her feet.

“You are between SOUL CLEAVER and his prey, human!” Rangdor left the tree line and stomped towards the group.

The woman turned. “And you are?”

“RANGDOR the TERRIBLE, scourge of a dozen nations!”

“Well I am Beatrice Valor-Arm, and my daughter, Denise Justice-Bringer, will not be beaten. She’ll carve that young dragon like a stuffed hen!”

Rangdor trumpeted furiously, whacking his tail against the ground. “SOUL CLEAVER will rain fire upon her before she can even get close!”

“Then Denise will duck and roll, dodging the flames and slicing his tendons.” The woman named Beatrice mimed the action with an invisible sword.

“SOUL CLEAVER will catch her feeble sword with his mighty razor talons!” Rangdor’s tail hit the earth again, causing Clarence and the young knight to retreat to a safe distance as the argument continued.

“Unbelievable!” the girl Denise said, gesturing at their parents.

Clarence flicked out his tongue in agreement. “At least this way we don’t have to fight.” He tried a toothy smile.

Denise looked at him uncertainly. “Your name isn’t really Soul Cleaver, is it?”

Clarence cringed. “I go by Clarence.”

“Well I– Wait, what’s that?” Denise creaked to a crouch in her stiff armor and picked something up off the ground. “It’s…” she said, carefully brushing dirt from the find. “It’s…”

With a jolt, Clarence recognized the object as his topaz windflower. It must have slipped from under his wing!

“It’s not finished yet!” Clarence plucked the flower from her palm and cradled it protectively out of view.

“You made that?” Denise’s eyes went wide. “How?”

Clarence looked anxiously towards his father, but Rangdor was still snout to nose with Denise’s mother, arguing vehemently.

“If I show you, you can’t tell anyone,” he said.

“Sure.”

Sticking the flower back under his wing, Clarence lowered himself to sniff at a few exposed rocks. One in particular held the right tang of iron hidden within its granite shell. He closed his jaws around the rock and blew bone-melting fire until he felt it soften. Swishing the molten rock in his maw he separated out the pure quartz and spit out the impure slag. He pulled the glowing mass from his mouth and with razor sharp talons etched intricate lines and delicate shapes into the hardening crystal. Satisfied, Clarence submerged the sculpture into a nearby forest pool, resulting in a sharp hiss. He dried it with a warm puff of air and offered the finished product to Denise: an amethyst flowering lily.

“Clarence,” Denise breathed, taking the lily, “that’s amazing.” She held it up to catch the last rays of sun.

Heat rose to Clarence’s face. “It’s not much,” he said, pawing the ground. “Usually I spend longer on them.”

“You have more?” Denise looked up. “Clarence, you should bring them to the faire tomorrow.”

The daydream of the princess’s praise returned but Clarence flexed his claws into the earth. “I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Why not? Dragons are banned from human faires, by royal decree! And Rangdor will never let me go.”

“But what if–”

A low growl sounded from the back of Clarence’s throat for which he immediately felt ashamed. “I want to go, really, but my father won’t understand.”

“You haven’t told him about your sculptures?” Denise asked.

Terror raised the spines on Clarence’s back and he shook his head side to side.

Denise nodded knowingly. “There are things Beatrice Valor-Arm doesn’t understand either.” She tucked the amethyst lily in her breastplate and out of view.

“Like what?” Clarence asked.

“Umm, nothing,” Denise said absently. “Say, do you have a lair close by?”

“What? Oh… yes, in the forest.”

“You have a horde of treasure I assume?”

Clarence nodded.

“Any captives?” Denise asked.

As Clarence began to answer ‘no’ he noticed an unfamiliar silence: their parents had stopped arguing.

“Denise!” Beatrice was looking at her daughter in shock. “Tell me you are not planning a daring rescue.”

“Mother…” Denise’s cheeks reddened.

“You’re not a grown woman yet, Denise! You know the rules: no rescues until you best the dragon! Is he bested?” Beatrice gestured at Clarence. “I think not! Come, Denise, we’re leaving!”

With an angry cry, Denise kicked at the dirt. Turning to Clarence she whispered, “If I could get you into the faire tomorrow, would you go?”

Clarence hesitated, his thoughts again on his father.

“Would you, Clarence?”

“Denise!” cried Beatrice.

With one last look at Clarence, Denise ran clanking after her mother.

“RA! A worthy challenger and her insufferable mother! Well fought, SOUL CLEAVER!” Rangdor paused. “SOUL CLEAVER?

Where are you going?”

Following the two knights at a distance, Clarence broke through the forest clearing and came to crouch on a rise overlooking the darkening valley and faire below.

Little torches like fireflies illuminated the cluster of brightly colored tents. Distant human instruments strummed, and delicious smells played on the breeze.

Longing twisted in Clarence’s stomach.

“You want to go down there, son?” Rangdor asked, now seated beside Clarence.

Clarence looked at his father in amazement.

“We can swoop down there together tomorrow and rain fiery destruction upon them! RA!”

Wingtips drooping, Clarence sighed. “No, it’s fine.”

Rangdor wasn’t listening. “The humans shall rue the day they trespassed on the territory of SOUL CLEAVER and RANGDOR the TERRIBLE!”

“I said I don’t want to!”

Rangdor’s scaly eyebrows shot up in surprise and then curved downward in anger. “You don’t want to go with me, fine, but you can’t attack them on your own. It’s too dangerous. I forbid it.”

Clarence began to protest but Rangdor’s look darkened. He bit back the words, knowing the matter closed.

Suddenly the bright colors and lights of the faire below made Clarence’s head ache. The smells, enticing a moment before, churned his stomach. He turned his back on the valley and started towards their lair, his tail dragging heavily in the dirt behind him.


Something hit Clarence’s nose.

“Pssst. Hey, Soul Cleaver! Wake up!”

Blearily opening his eyes, Clarence saw Denise, torch light flickering off her armor. Her hair was tangled and matted. She threw another rock at him which bounced off his brow and clattered across the cave floor.

“I’m already up!”

“That’s for making your lair so darn hard to find! I’ve been wandering around the woods for an hour!” She pulled a twig from her hair.

“What are you doing here?” Clarence hissed. “If Rangdor finds you–” A stalactite-rattling snore from the next room signaled that his father was still asleep. Clarence breathed a sigh of relief.

“I’m going to get you into the faire,” Denise said.

“What? How?” A thread of hope wove through Clarence’s apprehension.

“We can disguise you and pretend I made your flower sculptures to avoid suspicion.”

Clarence’s tail twitched in excitement but then became still. “Why would you help me?”

“I’m a knight, Clarence!” Denise said proudly. “I swore an oath to help those in need. And, well…” she added, looking uncomfortable, “if your sculptures win first prize, I would get the boon from the princess.”

Clarence hadn’t given the princess’s prize much thought. “What are you going to ask for?” he said.

Denise’s cheeks flushed red in the torchlight. “Do we have a deal or not, Clarence?”

Another loud snore made Clarence cringe. “What about Rangdor?”

“What about him?”

“He forbade it.”

Denise threw up her arms with a squeak of armor plates. “Beatrice forbids something every five minutes! We can’t let them control us, Clarence! You have to be your own man. Dragon, I mean. Do we have a deal?” She extended a gauntlet to Clarence.
Denise was right. Besides, Rangdor usually slept till midday. If Clarence could be back in the lair before noon, Rangdor might not even realized he’d gone.

“Deal,” Clarence said. He enclosed Denise’s entire hand in his paw.

She grinned. “Good, let’s get your flowers and get out of here.”

Clarence nodded and shuffled himself over to the far rock wall. He pushed aside a boulder to reveal the nook behind. Denise approached and drew in a sharp breath when she saw his collection. Glittering gemstone flowers of every type and size caught the torch’s light: there were azurite shooting stars, ruby foxgloves, a citrine sunflower, and even intertwining vines of bright peridot.

“Clarence,” Denise said in awe. “The princess isn’t going to know what hit her.”

Together they carefully loaded the sculptures into a sack and stole into the night.


“I can’t believe this was your disguise to sneak me into the faire,” Clarence grumbled as the cool wet paint sloshed against his side. “It’s never going to work.”

Denise had led Clarence down the mountainside to a forest clearing, where supplies were already waiting to enact her plan.

“Of course it will.” Denise plunged the thing she called a ‘mop’ into the barrel of white paint once more before slopping it up Clarence’s side. “You will have to moo though.”

“Moo?”

Denise pushed her cheeks together and let out a long moo. “You try.”

Clarence took a deep breath. “MOOOOOO!”

Denise stumbled back, almost toppling to the grass. “Quiet! You trying to wake the whole fair? More bovine, less dragon, next time.”

Clarence nodded, having no idea what she meant.

“Well, that just about does it,” Denise said, stepping back to admire her work. “For the base coat at least. Now for the spots!” She pried open a new barrel and dunked in a ‘brush’. “Close your eyes,” she said, walking around to stand in front of Clarence.

Clarence stooped his head so that he was level with Denise and closed his eyes. A moment later there was a cold tickling sensation across his face.

“Why’d you become a knight?” he asked, eyes closed.

“What?”

“Well, I have to be a dragon, but don’t humans decide what they are going to be?” The brush strokes continued but Denise was silent. “I mean, you’re not very good at fighting. No offence.”

“You sound like my mother,” Denise said. “There is more to knighthood than fighting. Knights do good deeds, they uphold a moral code, and well… they get the princess.”

Something in Denise’s tone made Clarence opened his eyes. She didn’t meet his gaze.

“I thought princes get princesses,” he said.

Her eyes flashed. “Thank you, oh wise Dragon! The prince gets the princess! Fantastic! Do I look like royalty to you?” Denise sighed. “You’re either born royalty or you’re not, just like dragons. But knights have the next best chance. The knight in shining armor always rescues the princess.” Denise looked down at her own armor, a mirror in the moonlight. “At least that’s what happens in the stories.”

“So, when you asked if we had a captive in our lair…?” Clarence asked, beginning to understand.

“Dragons are meant to have a prisoner princess!” Denise emphasized the words with waves of her brush. “This is standard stuff, Clarence! You let me down!”

She plunked herself on a nearby stump, the wood splintering under her armor. “Having Beatrice Valor-Arm as a mother doesn’t help. She says I need to earn the favor of a princess. I need to climb the tower, brave the evil, or defeat the monster… whatever! If I don’t, well then I don’t deserve to rescue her.”

“Have you told your mother why you want a princess?”

She looked up at him darkly. “Have you told your father about your flowers?”

A shiver ran down Clarence’s back that only had a little to do with the drying paint.

Denise sighed. “If your sculptures win at the faire today, the boon I will ask for is a kiss. Given I’m a terrible knight, it’s probably the only chance I’ll get.”

“I don’t think you’re a terrible knight. You’re the best knight I know,” Clarence said earnestly.

“You don’t know any other knights, Clarence,” Denise said, but Clarence thought he saw her hiding a smile.
The quiet that settled on their clearing was broken by the occasional chirp of morning birds. Through the trees Clarence saw the eastern sky had turned a sunrise pink.

“Well,” Denise said, rising to her feet. “We’d better keep going. The faire starts at sunrise and you’re still only half a cow.”

Clarence watched as Denise readied the brush with black paint once more. “A kiss is when humans touch faces?” he asked.

Denise looked at him in disbelief. “Yes, Clarence,” she said, resuming painting. “A kiss is when humans touch faces.”


The bell Denise had tied around Clarence’s neck clacked merrily as he swiveled his head this way and that, taking in the opening faire. Everywhere he looked humans were preparing for the day. He wanted to explore it all, but Denise had told him to stay put as she spoke to her mother then found their allotted booth to display his flowers.

His painted disguise was working perfectly; he could tell from the way the humans stared openly at him as they walked past.

“Great stars above, that cow is grotesque!” exclaimed one man.

“MOOOO!” Clarence responded happily, blowing the man’s brimmed hat clear across the faire.

Denise appeared from the maze of bright tents and took the rope lead around Clarence’s neck. “All set,” she whispered. “Beatrice thinks I’m on patrol, guarding against dragons.”

She led Clarence through the aisles to their booth, complete with a wood structure and fabric canopy overhead. Together they arranged the gem sculptures on the table for display. Clarence used his bulk to block the presentation from view, planning to reveal it only when the princess arrived.

“I think it’s ready, Clarence,” Denise said when he repositioned the emerald chrysanthemums for the fifth time. Reluctantly, Clarence stepped back to allow Denise to cover the flowers with a cloth. “Now, we wait for the princess.”

Clarence fidgeted anxiously, wings and spines straining against the dry paint on his back, but he soon became distracted by the host of new and intoxicating sights, sounds, and smells of the faire. There were humans performing acrobatics, songs being sung, and savory meats being roasted over hot coals.

And so the faire progressed as the day drew on, until a trumpeting of human instruments announced the arrival of the princess. Clarence’s trepidation immediately returned in full.

“She’s perfect,” Denise whispered, as the princess came into view, emerging from the crowd of humans surrounding her.

Clarence felt nervous heat rolling off his body.

“Fair knight,” the princess greeted, her blue silk dress and veils waving in the breeze.

Denise rushed forward to kneel and kiss the princess’s hand.

The princess’s eyes rose to Clarence. “Umm, your faire entry?” she asked apprehensively.

“No, Your Highness.” Denise flushed and motioned for Clarence to move.

Heart thudding, Clarence bit the corner of the cloth and pulled it aside to reveal his work.

The garden of flowers twinkled and shone. Prismatic rainbows played around the table and the underside of the canopy, cast from the ensemble of delicate sculptures.

The crowd held their breath as the princess leaned forward to study the sculptures. After a moment she straightened. “Fair knight,” she said with a smile, “I judge your craftsmanship to be…” Her eyes drifted up from Denise towards the sky. “To be…”

“What?” Clarence said, forgetting himself. “To be what?”

“D…D…Dragon!”

Clarence whirled, ready to moo at the accuser. Except the man that’d cried out wasn’t pointing at Clarence, he was pointing to the sky.

“Oh no,” Clarence whispered, his own head tilting upwards.

The noonday sun shone through Rangdor’s red wings as he soared over the faire. “SOUL CLEAVER!” he roared and banked to land.

Chaos erupted. Humans stumbled and ran, trying to gather their loved ones and get clear of the dragon’s path.

“Princess!” Denise cried excitedly. “We need to get you to safety!” The princess didn’t move but stared up at Rangdor in wonder.

Rangdor landed and slid to a halt in a shower of dirt and grass. “SOUL CLEAVER! There you are! Did the humans capture you? What have they done to your scales?”

“Nothing!” Clarence said. “They didn’t capture me. They didn’t do anything.”

“Then why are you here?” Rangdor said, arching his back. “I forbade you coming, CLEAVER.”

“I…I…” Clarence tried desperately to think of something Rangdor would believe. His eyes landed on the figure in blue silk. “I came to capture the princess?”

“Hmm, you should have told me, CLEAVER, but well done, son. Grab her quick and we’ll take her to the lair!”

“Not so fast, dragon.” Through the crowd strode Beatrice Valor-Arm. “This princess,” she said, coming to grab the princess’s arm, “is going to be rescued by Denise Justice-Bringer.”

“She is?” Denise asked. “I mean, of course she is!”

“Once she bests your dragon,” Beatrice added.

Denise’s expression fell.

“Foolish knight, this princess is going to be stolen by SOUL CLEAVER. He disguised himself so that he could take her and your little knight by surprise! RA!” Rangdor reached out and enclosed the princess’s other wrist in his claw so that she was pulled between them.

“Oh no,” the princess said, looking mildly perturbed. “I have been taken captive… again.”

“Denise was on to your dragon the entire time,” said Beatrice. “She was waiting for him to reveal himself so that she could skewer him on the spot! Why else would she be here instead of on patrol as she was instructed to be?” Beatrice pulled again so that the princess was jostled between her and RANGDOR.

“Help,” the princess said resignedly. “Someone please save me.”

“Clarence, we have to do something!” Denise pleaded with him. “We have to rescue her!”

“This is my fault,” Clarence said. “You’re going to miss your chance with the princess because I couldn’t tell my father the truth.” He raised his head and spread his wings so they ripped free from the paint on his back. “I’ll distract Rangdor,” he said, “you run in and save the princess.”

Clarence faced his father. “I didn’t come to steal the princess,” he said loudly.

“Then CLEAVER would… what? What did you say, SOUL CLEAVER?” Rangdor turned his head, still gripping the princess’s wrist.

“I didn’t come to the faire for the princess.”

Rangdor’s tail wacked against the ground, a dangerous sign at best. “CLEAVER…” he growled. “Maybe you came to kill humans but–”

“I didn’t come to kill humans! I don’t want to hurt anyone, I never did!”

“What? What are you saying, CLEAVER? You aren’t making any sense.” Rangdor’s tail thumped harder.

Clarence took a deep breath. “I came to show my flowers.”

“Your what?”

“Clarence! Your flowers!” Denise broke into a clunky run, not towards the princess but past Rangdor towards the display booth. The vibrations from Rangdor’s tail had knocked the wood frame canopy off its supports and the heavy structure was teetering ominously above Clarence’s fragile sculptures.

“No, Denise!” Clarence shouted, but it was too late. Just as she arrived, the canopy collapsed atop her, knocking her to the ground.

Beatrice cried out, but the voice of the princess was louder. “Fair knight!” she yelled, and turning to Rangdor and Beatrice, “Unhand me!” When neither complied, the princess gritted her teeth. “So be it.” She moved faster than Clarence’s eye could follow, and suddenly Rangdor was clutching his forepaw in pain and Beatrice was knocked back, struggling to keep her balance.

Free of her captors, the princess sprinted, but Rangdor’s tail, thrashing in surprise, flew directly towards her. Clarence heard the human on-lookers gasp, but the princess leapt high, silks trailing through the air, and executed a beautiful dive over the scaly tail to land in a perfect roll. She reached the booth wreckage and hauled the young knight clear.

Denise opened her eyes to see the princess above her. “You saved me,” she said in awe.

“Why did you run into danger so quickly, good knight?” the princess asked, helping Denise to her feet.

“You were trying to protect my flowers.” Clarence felt a lump in his long throat as he approached with Beatrice. Rangdor hobbled behind.

“I’m sorry, Clarence,” Denise said. “I only managed to get one.” She opened her palm to reveal Clarence’s topaz windflower, still polished and perfect.

Emotion welled within Clarence. Denise’s actions meant more to him than any judgment from the princess. If she believed in him that much how could be ashamed? Tenderly he craned his neck forward, took the flower from her, and placed it in Rangdor’s paw.

“This is why I came to the faire,” Clarence said quietly. “Father… dad, I don’t want to kill humans, or best knights. I want to make these.”

Rangdor studied the flower in his palm while smoke trailed uncertainly from his nostrils.

“I don’t understand,” Beatrice said, turning to Denise. “You aided the dragon? Why?”

After taking a deep breath, Denise meet Clarence’s eye for a moment before saying, “I wanted to win the prize, the boon from the princess.” She focused on her mother, avoiding the princess’s gaze.

“What? What could a princess possibly offer that would compare with the glory of besting a–”

Denise leaned forward to whisper in Beatrice’s ear. Her mother’s eyes widened. “Oh,” she said after Denise finished. “Well, then.” Seeming unsure of what to say, Beatrice pulled Denise into a rough hug. Denise’s initial look of shock faded, and she returned the embrace heartily.

A bold human fair-goer from the surrounding crowd approached as Rangdor examined Clarence’s windflower.

“You mean to say a dragon made that?” the man asked, reaching to touch the flower.

“Careful, human,” Rangdor growled. “You bear witness to the craft of SOUL CLEAVER, and your pitiful legs could not carry you fast enough were you to so much as smudge one of his creations! RA!”

The human man fell back in terror and retreated into the crowd.

Relief flooded Clarence, and he found himself grinning. “They can touch them, dad.”

“You should bring your flowers to the great faire in the capital next month, dragon,” the princess said. “If you are able to make more, that is.” She glanced at the collapsed booth.

Excitement swelled in Clarence’s chest. He bobbed his head eagerly. “I can!”

“I thought dragons were banned from attending your faires,” Rangdor said, a note of bitterness in his growl.

The princess winced. “My father’s decree, but I think it is time he saw what dragonkind can offer. And perhaps,” she added in a low voice, “time he started giving his daughter more responsibility than judging faires. And you, noble knights,” she spoke loudly once more to Denise and Beatrice, “you should come as well. To umm,” — her eyes lingered on Denise — “keep the dragons in check.”

The princess untied the blue scarf from around her neck and presented it to Denise. “A token,” she said. “Helping the dragon was truly knightly.”

Denise blushed furiously. “But I didn’t save you.”

“A welcome change,” the princess said with a smile.

There was applause from the human onlookers as Denise knelt and the princess placed the scarf around her neck. The princess leaned in as Denise rose. “Perhaps next time we meet you shall receive the boon you were looking for.”

Denise gawked at her.

“Who are you?” Clarence asked, maw agape.

The princess straightened, brushing back long brown hair. “To my subjects, I am Felicity Augusta the Second, but my friends call me Fina.” She winked. “Until we meet again, dragons, good knights.” In a swish of silk, the Princess Fina disappeared into the crowd.

“That human is… acceptable,” Rangdor said begrudgingly.

“She marked Denise Justice-Bringer with royal favor,” Beatrice said casually fingering the end of the blue fabric.

Rangdor snorted. “SOUL CLEAVER’s sculptures are going to earn hundreds of your special human scarves.”

Around them the humans began packing away the faire, giving the dragons a wide berth.

“Well, Denise is destined to be a famed knight,” Beatrice said, “known for her good deeds and winning the favor and hearts of princesses across the land!”

“Foolish, human! SOUL CLEAVER shall receive commissions from around the continent! His flowers shall be prized more highly than gold!”

Denise and Clarence shared an exasperated look, which turned into a grin.

About the Author

Matthew J. Jarvis

Matthew J. Jarvis is an architect and writer from Victoria, BC, Canada. If he is not working, writing, or rock climbing, then he is likely laying in the sun by a lake, river, or ocean. SOUL CLEAVER Clarence is his first professional sale.
Say hello at matthewjjarvis.com.

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About the Narrators

Jen R. Albert

Jen Albert is an entomologist, writer, editor, narrator, game-player, cosplayer, streamer, reader of All The Things, and haver of far too many hobbies. Jen somehow became co-editor of her favorite fantasy fiction magazine and podcast; she now wonders if she’s still allowed to call it her favorite. She lives in Toronto with her husband and her very large, very hairy German Shepherd. Follow her online and on Twitter.

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Rish Outfield

Rish Outfield can be found regularly at The Dunesteef podcast, which he produces with Big Anklevich, and you can hear him pretty much everywhere in the genre story pod-o-sphere. You can find him online.

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Alexis Goble

Alexis Goble is an assistant editor for EA’s own Cast of Wonders. She lives with her partner in Cincinnati, Ohio. When she isn’t reading or making jewelry for her day job, she amuses herself with a giant revolving menu of hobbies and art projects. To list them all would be sheer madness. Like any good pansexual, she has a lot of cool jackets. You can find her on Twitter @alexisonpaper.

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M.K. Hobson

M.K. Hobson is a writer of historical fantasy fiction, and records stories for Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Zero Books. She’s also the cohost of a Web series for Zero Books titled “We Live in a Society.”

Her work has appeared in many publications such as Realms of Fantasy, The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Interzone and Sybil’s Garage. Her debut novel The Native Star was published to critical acclaim in September 2010 by Ballantine Spectra.

She can be heard frequently on PodCastle, both as guest host and narrator, and has long been a beloved part of the Escape Artists family. Follow her online or on Twitter.

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Cheyenne Wright

Cheyenne Wright is a wizard that can turn into a dragon, or a dragon posing as a wizard. He forgets which. Either way, He makes comics, Art for games, and HU-mans can contribute to his hoard via patreon.com/docarcane.

He narrates short stories for a variety of venues where he is known as Podcasting’s Mr. Buttery ManVoice, and is an EA Storyteller.

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