Ackerley Brumlow is dead, and the jokester’s long-time friend Ezra still doesn’t know if Ackerley managed to dispose of the sensitive material he’d given him. Other unlikely happenings open Ezra’s eyes to more sinister signs that all is not right in Tendry Spire. Travis Burnham’s supernatural horror is a question of who is strong enough… SY
The evening they buried Ackerley Brumlow the sky was a bloody bruise. Steely storm clouds menaced the north and the air was charged and heavy; the threat of lightning making every breath laborious and wheezy for those attending the funeral.
Though Ackerley had no family to speak of, many of the residents of Tendry Spire were arranged about the coffin, some to pay their respects, some to truly mourn, and some simply at a loss for activity after a Monday’s work.
Many were children, with which Ackerley had an affinity; no surprise as they comprised a majority of his clientele.
At the presiding priest’s last words, Ezra Calogero stepped forward and, scratching his short, shaggy beard, hesitated at the edge of the grave, “Somber words for our resident trickster, wouldn’t you say, Father Robert?”
A cold stare was Father Robert’s reply.
A hidden spring holds many secrets key to victory, and one old hermit knows where it can be found. But the journey requires the seekers to face many dangers, not least from the ones who protect it. We’re please to feature Recle E. Vibal’s fantasy, with its flavour of the Southeast Asian fable. We’ve included some links to define some of the words our readers may not know. SY
Lightning illuminated the three men outside Ali’s hut. Rain and darkness had hidden their approach.
“Halt. You cannot proceed.” Ali tried to discern their faces from the shadows and silhouettes dancing from the light of his lamp.
“We need your help, hermit.”
A boy on the water buffalo, a kalis hanging by his waist, emerged from the darkness. Beside him were two men. One was as thick as the water buffalo and towered Ali’s hut. The giant had a kampilan tied to his back, the hilt protruding from his waist and the tip of the sheath appearing from his thigh. The boy’s other companion hid in the darkness because of his skin. A headhunter’s axe was lying on his shoulders. They all hid their faces under a salakot.
“What do you want?” Ali asked.
“The spring,” the boy replied. “The Datu said we would see you here, hermit.”
“The datu of what tribe?”
“Why does Datu Matayog seek the spring?”
“The Datu dreamt a mist of ghosts emerging from the horizon, from the sea. The Babaylan interpreted it as a threat to his sultanate, a war from across the ocean.”
Justin Short’s story is not for the squeamish or arachnophobic. Just how many bites are too many? What will it take to be accepted into a new world? Finalist in the 2013 Story Quest competition, this story gets under your skin. SY
When I first came to the valley, the elders gave me a tick. I didn’t think too much of the gift, especially since there was nowhere to return it. The place, as you know, is fairly inaccessible. A big, greenish space surrounded by acres of nearly vertical hayfields, natural silt traps, and the thorniest woods imaginable. No realistic possibility of escape. No company except that lone chair in the exact center of said valley.
The gray-haired bug-bearers arrived shortly after I took my seat. Their tick was a gray one, small and unthreatening. His tiny feet circumnavigated my torso a couple times before he injected his teeth into my shoulder. It hurt at first, but I gradually got used to the tight discomfort there.
Within the hour, one of the old men brought me my second one. This time it was a seed tick. Almost microscopic. When he released it on my skin and wished it luck, I could scarcely distinguish it from my freckles.