This is the line up for the fifth issue and and being our anniversary issue this one is a bumper 52 pages!
Contents shown in the approximate order they will appear in the finished zine.
Cover image by Daevid Ford
Issue Five was
The Mysterious Man From The Park
When you are determined and prepared, nearly any situation can be turned to your advantage.
The stunned townsfolk looked to the sky, as the scream echoed through the crowd. Was this a prank? A dragon had not been seen in these parts in generations.
An explosion less than two hundred yards away shook them from their stupor. Everyone in the clearing scattered, grabbing children as they ran toward the presumed safety of their homes.
The man selling tonics to the crowd ditched his cart and ran as fast as his corpulent legs could carry him to the edge of the clearing. If he could get to his workshop in the park, and more importantly his magiks, he could match her. Out here in the open, he was easy prey.
He caught a glimpse of the fierce dragon in the night sky. She was turning toward him and he dove under a bush. Under cover, he cast a rudimentary cloaking spell to fortify the camouflage. If she was truly hunting him, it would not be enough, but it was all he could do without supplies.
The stark-shadowed evening had come all too soon
Sheltered in an alley, near hidden from sight
The Still Heart Beats
It is said the Druen have no feelings. It is said we are monsters, bloodsuckers and murderers. But I like to think that my heart, though it does not beat, is far from dead.
I was lucky enough to be born in the small fishing town of Drastheon. I was not one of the Dark Hearts, the bestial Druen who travel the land seeking blood. Nor was I born in Druenel Hai, where every firstborn—which would be me—was sacrificed as a blood meal to the imperial family.
My family, the House Rabaam, was very wealthy. My parents named me Drasnelon—Nocturne; Night Song—after my grandfather, a great entrepreneur who had brought his children riches.
My father, Draythor, profited from the slave trade—mostly Elven slaves, but sometimes humans picked from the far south. They would serve as maids or guardians, or prostitutes, but their lives would almost always end as a blood meals, when they grew old or tired or irritating. Three of our slaves—two human girls and one Elven boy of the Kardir Tribe—had been used as blood meals when my father lost himself to his impulses.
I was just an adolescent of twenty-eight years one freezing day in mid-March, when I left the manor to buy dinner. A blanket of snow lay over the endless, icy taiga surrounding Drastheon.
The Ruins Of Byzor
Amidst the shattered ruins the tattered monks stride, proud and sure. Their black geometric-patterned robes rustle, hints of sumptuous sewing on their filthy garments. Do they know the desolation all around? Do they understand it, or do they simply ignore it, lost in half a century of insanity?
All have fled this place, all save the mad and the devout.
Go to hell,” she says, “maybe then you'll understand.”
His eyes fill with tears. “Maybe I don't want to understand.”
There's a knife lying next to her moon face. Seven inches, gleaming steel. His fingers around the black handle, stiff and cold. Eyes closed, words of encouragement whispering out of her barely moving, pale sapphire mouth. Is it his resolve that's stiffening even more or his fingers? He touches her long hair with the tip of the blade, and it gets caught. She shouldn't have used such cheap black hair dye. He sighs, his brow creasing into a worried frown.
Now, for me,” she whispers urgently.
He looks at the knife through a blur and his tears drop on her breasts. He moves the knife to her thin throat and presses down. Blood. Hot and steaming, explodes into his eyes, up his nose, into his screaming mouth, screaming, too much blood, screaming black.On the first morning of Peter's death, he didn't wake with a gasp or a shout. He only had an overwhelming feeling of resentment. He turned his head to the nightstand. The alarm clock should have woken him up. It would have if Peter had set it properly, which he never did. He bought the small red alarm clock on the advice of a co-worker. An overpriced device from Tokyo, he was positive he spent far too much money on the damned thing. He still hadn't figured out all of the functions and, of course, its failure was always stupidly obvious. He set it on snooze instead of buzzer. He set it on six p.m. instead of six a.m. He stared at the empty spot next to him on the bed. His wife hadn't returned from the hospital, he realized as the early morning fog faded. Yes, the alarm should have woken him up. Inanimate objects were so uncooperative.
The Fairie Tax
Sitting on a roughly hewn bench outside a small cottage, the last rays of the setting sun illuminating his work, the farmer had no idea that he was being watched. He was busily darning a sock, his brutish fingers pulling thread through the overly worn fabric, the bone needle piercing the flesh of the coarse woolen weave in an effort to close a hole the size of his big toe.
The farmer was a thickly built man, stooped at the shoulders from countless days of planting seeds or pulling weeds or picking vegetables. His face was decidedly unhandsome even in the kind light of dusk, with a ruddy complexion that bespoke a fondness for cheap drink. His hair was unkempt, snarled and knotted, and in his beard the remnants of ancient meals could be found.
At last the farmer tied a double knot and bit the thread, pulling the mended sock back over his foot. Slipping on a boot, he tested his handiwork, seemingly satisfied with what he had accomplished.
Had he known the danger he was in, what the night had in store, the farmer might then have made the long walk into town, some seven miles by the rutted cart path that wound its way through the surrounding hills. He might even have spent a few of the precious coins he had managed to save over the year to treat himself to a meal.
A New Start
Jagged cracks raced across the barren ground as the world convulsed in the throes of death. At the brink of the precipice, Adema clung tightly to the great roots of Tra’varld. That tree swayed dangerously at the edge, and mountain sized boulders broke free to dwindle to nothing as the vortex ripped them away and into its hungering maw.
As suddenly as the quaking began, it ended. Only the sound of loose ground and rock cascading from the edge like some unearthly waterfall remained. The quakes came more frequently and with more severity, as great chunks tore away from Adema’s world. Only he and Tra’varld, who sent the others to safety, remained. A tear drew a wet, line along his cheekbone as he looked toward the sky. Once this world teemed with life, scurrying among the bushes or darting to a fro, diving toward unseen prey on the ground or just gliding serenely among the winds flowing as invisible rivers among the soft, violet sky. Now only barren rock remained and a sky overhung by reddish, poisonous clouds.
Gone, all gone, thought Adema as he looked across the barren, rocky landscape that used to be blanketed in golden prairie grasses weaving lazily in the breezes.
It is not the purpose of this work to do more than give, in detail, a picture of Mr Landor's residence -- as I found it. - Edgar Allen Poe, Landor’s Cottage
I was on a walking tour across the Lake District with the intention of reaching the village of B----- before nightfall. Unfortunately, I had chosen a path that had assuredly taken me in the wrong direction. Lost is the word for it, and the path which I had followed for some two hours, appeared to have no intention of leading me to B-----.
Remaining in the open overnight was not a problem. I had my hound, Porthos, as a companion, and resting beneath the stars was an activity in which I had partaken in before to my greatest pleasure. I followed the path with less care than I should have leaving me with little chance of discovering the village before nightfall.
Winter Solstice. The longest night,
But the day has not yet conceded defeat.
Curse Of The Moon - Part Three
On the fifteenth anniversary of his death, Ash’s father began haunting Ash. It started out with small things, the kind of things any necromancer experienced after a few years trafficking with the dead; disturbed dreams and falling glasses. Then it became vicious, bottles flying across the bar to shatter over Ash’s head, whispered accusations in the dead of night. You hated me. You’re glad I’m dead. You may as well have killed me yourself.
On the fifth sleepless night, Ash sat in the bar of his nightclub watching his father’s shade flit around under the dim lights of the dance floor. Curling like cigarette smoke around the room, the ghost shattered light bulbs and poured icy chills over his son. Ash dug his fingernails into his palms, infuriated by his father’s presence, but unable to banish him the way he could any other ghost. The spirit of Tristan Evenmere seemed locked, fixed on his son.
His Dark Angel
I know you’re here,” I muttered, stumping across the Old Market’s paving stones. I felt rumpled; I hadn’t slept a blink on the plane or even bothered to change my clothes after tossing my suitcase into a room at the Poznan Nuvotel. Thomas’s postcard burned in my pocket--the only clue I had.
Where was Stary Rynek 45-47? As I tried to find numbers on medieval buildings people gazed over my head at the old Town Hall. A carillon began to chime, doors swung open on the tower and two metal goats emerged and butted horns. “Yeden,” chanted delighted children. “Dwa. Chi.” They counted the blows.
Exasperated, I tried to thread my way towards a policeman, and spied a slender man with chestnut hair to his shoulders--Thomas? Rudely I pushed through the crowd, earning elbows in the ribs. I didn’t recognize his sunglasses. “Thomas,” I cried, but he didn’t react.
Shesht, shyedem, oshyem,” the children chanted together. Lifting his shades he studied me with chill blue eyes.
I’m sorry,” I gasped in English, blushing; “I thought you were my husband.” My eyes tingled, and grinning he muttered something in Polish.
I turned away. “Dwa-nash-chay,” the children chanted in triumph, and the tower doors swung shut.
The Windigo Blows At Night
When Frankie Ferguson came to, she brushed her hand through her dark hair, and realized, upon standing up, that she was now five kilometers outside of Iqaluit, the closest thing to a city in the vast barren wasteland of the Canadian territory of Nunavut. This was, she vowed silently to herself, the last time she would get carried away with the booze in the presence of the fun loving Inuit, who comprised the majority of the population in this northern land.
Frankie had come north mostly because there was little left for her down south. That wasn’t particularly true, since her parents were still alive, but she’d been on the outs with them for some time, so it was just as well that she was up here where they couldn’t reach her that easy. Besides, she was doing all right here in Iqaluit, clerking in a store and teaching English to those Inuit who didn’t know how to speak it well and wanted to learn. It seemed like things were finally working out for her- she’d even managed to adjust to the bone-chilling winter temperatures so common in the north. But this happiness, unfortunately, was destined not to last.
Julian cursed his luck when he discovered Andy’s name on the project team; he thought Andy a sloppy engineer with little regard for his career or profession. His loathing had grown since he had found himself partnered with Andy out here in the sweltering heat. During the day he avoided him, busying himself alongside his drilling crew, meticulously logging the soil and rock as it was cored from the parched earth. But in the evening there was no escape. They sat at the counter, Julian pecking at his fries, staring at the television, Andy, tearing into his Porterhouse. “Jules, try and think outside the square on this one, buddy. Imagine if time were cyclic, repeating identically every five thousand years,”
Julian cringed at the juvenile direction in which the blockhead was steering their conversation. He tried to discourage him, grunting disinterestedly and turning his attention again to the game: The Hawks were losing. But the blithering idiot wouldn’t drop it “You know this time, exactly five thousand years ago, we were probably sitting here in this bar, holding the same conversation we are now, everything identical,” Andy said.
It was his first visit to Paris… work had taken him to the America’s several times, and onto mainland Europe once before, but this was his first time in France. It had been a journey he had enjoyed thoroughly thus far… the flight, as always, found his face pressed to the small square window, his eyes studying the world he knew below – only so tiny as to make it seem quite unreal.
There had been little time for enjoyment once back on land, however… met at the airport and whisked away in a Parisian taxi, he had been forced into a good shift of work, when truly all he wanted to do was check into his hotel and relax, perhaps see some sights… friends had drawn up a long enough list, even with two weeks in the city he would struggle to get more than halfway through it.
The tower, of course had to be seen and scaled… The Louvre, Notre Dame, the Latin Quarter… perhaps some on the list would simply have to wait for another time. By the time he escaped the clutches of work this night, the time was fast approaching two hours to midnight, if not later than that; and with an equally hectic day in prospect tomorrow, visiting any of Paris’ great attractions was out of the question.
As ever when work arranged the details, the hotel was adequate, if not a little rustic; paint peeled from the outside walls, and the surrounding fence had more than a tinge of rust to its paintwork. Still, inside the décor was nice, and the room perfectly comfortable… although the mattress plainly had the feel of broken springs in its midst, no doubt that would bother him later.
The Vampire Mice of the U&G:
Sir Kaelan Gryffn sat alone at the bar in the Unicorn and Gryphon. A Bengal tiger archetype, he nursed his ginger beer enjoying being in a crowd while also enjoying his solitary thoughts.
Up in the rafters, Lost Dragon teased Stoker and Razz who gave as good as they got. At the bar, HollyAnn and Durant spoke to each other about art while Shooter Roo, Jarrel, and Griz debated the virtues of the latest Hollywood film with Camstone. Others dined and drank and listened to music and the tiger felt contented.
Suddenly, he looked down at the bar at movement he had caught from the corner of his eye.
A small mouse scampered across the bar.
Mice in the U&G were not that uncommon, but this little deer mouse also sported a cape that swirled about his shoulders as he ran.
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