Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

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Cast of Wonders 430: Where a Heart Would Fit Perfectly


Where a Heart Would Fit Perfectly

by S. Qiouyi Lu

Penny looked in the mirror and frowned. No matter which way she turned, her dress seemed too sequined, too flashy, too… ridiculous. And her makeup felt garish even in the dim light backstage. But that was how all the dancers were made up—the stage lights would wash their faces out otherwise.

Just grin and bear it, Penny told herself. At least you’re getting paid this time. (Continue Reading…)

episode art: 424

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Cast of Wonders 424: Like Faded Joy


Like Faded Joy

by Ashley Bao

We were born during a lightning storm, thunder cracking a whip through the hospital walls. Lei came first, not even crying when her head popped out. She pulled me by the ankle, and I tumbled and bawled as I left the comfort of the womb.

Our mother cursed in Mandarin when the nurse brought in the paperwork for the birth certificates. We were one month early, and she hadn’t picked out names yet. Our grandmother, our wai po, piped up from her stool next to the bed.

“Xiao Lei, Xiao Yu. Little Thunder, Little Rain. The thunderstorm brought them here tonight,” wai po said, leaving no room for argument.

Our mother wrote the names in crisp English letters. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 412: Eight to the Eighth


Eight, to the Eighth

by Liam Hogan

Spider was fed up. Fed up, and upside down. She hung from a web in the darkest corner of Witch’s cottage, swinging back and forth in the most fed up manner she could fashion.

Each time she swung she scowled with all eight eyes at the torn open envelope with the Royal crest on the side table below. Witch’s gilt-edged invitation to the Palace Ball, the social spectacular of the year, had arrived that very morning.

Spider knew exactly how things would go. How the annual event always went. Witch would not, of course, RSVP. If pressed, she would say how terribly busy she was, and how she definitely hoped to make it, but she really couldn’t say for certain until much closer to the date. But she wouldn’t RSVP later on, either. Instead, Witch would turn up at the Summer Palace of the King and Queen of Freyen-Noyen, on the night of the Ball, invitation in hand, and claim she’d found herself unexpectedly free of an evening and she trusted her gracious hosts wouldn’t mind her unannounced attendance? (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 405: From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review


From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review

by Marie Brennan

Dear Sirs–

I was fascinated by Mr. Benjamin Talbot’s brief notice, published in the 28 Seminis issue of your magazine, detailing his acquisition of a preserved specimen from a heretofore undocumented draconic species. As we all know, legends of the cockatrice date back many centuries, but I am unaware of any reputable examples collected before now, either dead or alive. This is a thrilling event for the field of dragon naturalism, and I heartily encourage Mr. Talbot to publish his discovery at greater length, including details such as the manner of its acquisition, the island or archipelago in the Broken Sea where such beasts may be found, and a thorough description of its anatomy. An engraving to accompany this article would not go amiss–though naturally a public presentation of his find would be even more desirable. I may dare hope that Mr. Talbot is even now preparing such an article for publication, whether in your magazine or elsewhere, for I have awaited further information with bated breath, and fear I will soon turn blue for lack of oxygen.
(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 398: Staff Picks 2019 – Take Heart


Take Heart

by Claire Eliza Bartlett

Magdalena perched on the edge of a flimsy folding chair, fingers knotted. The overseer’s office reverberated with the movement of the factory: a steady, pounding rhythm that made up the heartbeat of the city of Tammin. She focused on the way the inkwell trembled, rather than on the overseer behind the desk. The woman who held Magdalena’s past—and immediate future—in her hands.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 393: Staff Picks 2019 – 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!”

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 391: Staff Picks 2019 – Why I Spared the One Brave Soul Between Me and My Undead Army


Why I Spared the One Brave Soul Between Me and My Undead Army

by Setsu Uzume

I am loathe to admit that the ambush was masterful. Not only had the bounty hunters slain my contacts, but they had done so in the right order — dispatching the Ritualist before she had any corpses to animate. Had I come on horseback, they would have had me, too.

In addition to my dead allies and their hobbled wagon, I counted four hunters lumbering through the dark. Big lads, experienced and well-equipped, but given the style of their breastplates they had come from the west — tracking the cultists and not me. It made them slow and ill-prepared to face me in my glory. I whirled, my shadow splitting off to pierce kidneys and slice the backs of their knees while I led them a merry dance through dead leaves and bracken. One of them even turned, his blade slashing a wide arc, but shadows have no heads to remove. Him, I killed the quickest.

(Continue Reading…)

episode art - desert snow, for Luchadora

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Cast of Wonders 389: Luchadora


Luchadora

by Melissa Mead

When Alejandra was nine, her mother died of dehydration. When she was ten, Alejandra made her father bring her to the Luchadores’ barracks. The three ancient wizards who would choose the boy who would become the next Luchador weren’t pleased. They almost sent Alejandra’s father to the hellstone mines, where men died with their limbs charred black. Then Alejandra marched up to the eldest of the Magos, the one in flame-red silk, and demanded that he make the bull-man stop waking her up at night. The other two Magos, in silk as gold as the sun and as blue as the sky, gasped. The first wizard scowled.

“What do you mean, child?”

“The bull with the man-face. He came when Mama died. He comes in the dark, and whispers to me.” (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 388: The First, the Second, the Third


The First, the Second, the Third

by Katherine Kendig

In the winter, the mornings are colder inside than out. Lily sings at the window, her voice wending its way toward the barn, the willow grove, the creek, as pure as the snow it floats over. Her breath frosts as she sings, her gaze fixed on the horizon where the church is the only part of town we can see. Margot huddles in bed, her hair tousled over her face, shivering. Margot has never been able to stand the cold. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 386: Encore! Cosmetic Procedures


Cosmetic Procedures

by Desmond Warzel

When I became a private investigator, it wasn’t for excitement, or for money. The work is humdrum, and whatever noir romanticism the profession ever actually had is long gone (though I’ve got a raincoat, a fedora, and a dusty bottle of scotch in the closet, just in case they’re called for). As for money, there isn’t much–and I don’t need it anyway. I’m a dilettante, and utterly unashamed of it. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 382: No Matter Where; Of Comfort No One Speak


No Matter Where; Of Comfort No One Speak

by Kate Baker

Tucked behind the cracks in the plaster and the peeling, wallpaper print, we watch you draw a blade. You stand in the kitchen, holding the steel in your right hand. A finger slides down the sharp edge, testing its strength as you do calculations in your head. The slow creep of a smile indicates you are happy with your choice. Drawn away in visions to the future, everything is interrupted by a quick slip and slice as you drop the knife. We notice the dribble of blood, a bead welling at the tip, inviting a hungry mouth. You bring the cut to your lips and suck on it a moment and then examine the depth.

No stitches required. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 378: Banned Books Week – Common Grounds and Various Teas


Common Grounds & Various Teas

by Sherin Nicole

Mama’s fingernails are mesmerizing. They’re black and shiny as volcanic glass but not polished. Her skin is a deeper shade than North Carolina red clay, and her hair is pulled up high in two top knots. Long dreadlocks cascade down over both her ears. If she’s older than thirty  no one can tell. Right now, I’m giving her serious side eye. She won’t stop blabbering and babbling and telling her grifter tales.

“I told that man, you cannot sell me this bucket on wheels. It’s beneath me,” she says in an accent as brown as her skin. “He didn’t like that. Now, rather than me convincing him, he’s convincing me to lower the price. ‘Til I have mercy, I take this car from him for $45 and I let him buy the beers.”

I huff and turn away from her. “Can you stop now?” I mumble.

“I could,” Mama says, like she’s sharing secrets, “but I could also be swallowed and spit back out as something flavorless.” (Continue Reading…)