Table of Contents
Six Steps - Sheri McGathy (poem)
Transcendence - Tina Morgan
How Scutter Saved My Life - B. D. Faw (flash fiction)
Blood Debt - Michele Acker
Angel - Lee Masterson
Game of the Gods - Rie Sheridan
Soulmate - Tina Morgan
The Price of Magic - Michele Acker
Coldoar - Sheri L. McGathy (poem)
Descent into Chaos - Carol Hightshoe
Daughter of Chaos - Carol Hightshoe
Tannae frowned at the stocking in her hand. Mending always irritated her, better to start with a freshly woven piece of cloth than to try and piece together strings that no longer fit together. She kept her head down so that her mother could not see her displeasure. Her mother never understood.
"Where’s my little Nean?" called a quavering voice from the back room of the small three-room cottage. Tannae glanced at her mother but lowered her gaze back to her darning when Manena stood and dropped her sewing into her basket. She pointed at Tannae to indicate she should continue with her chores.
"Grandmother, you know you should address Tannae by her chosen name," admonished Manena. Her mother left the door ajar as she entered the back room. Tannae tiptoed to the door and peeked around the corner. Her great-grandmother’s bed was visible through the crack.
"She is my Nean." The old woman plucked at the tattered blanket that covered her frail body. Blue veins made dark trails down the back of her gnarled hands and advanced age left its mark in the myriad of lines across her face. "You should not have taken her to the choosing ceremony. Nothing good came of it."
"Nothing good? How can you say that? What higher blessing could a mother ask for her child?" Manena shook her head. She sat on the edge of the bed and straightened the cornhusk pillow beneath her grandmother’s head. "To spend her life cared for by the priests, doing the Masters? work, to know what it is like to be one with the Masters..."
"To be a piece of cold meat lying on a marble slab."
"Sacrilege!" Manena nearly screeched the word.
"Truth." Grandmother’s cheeks were drawn and pale but when violent coughs shook her body, color flooded her face. Tannae bit her lip. Her beloved great-grandmother was dying.
"You will learn the truth soon enough, old woman. What will you say when the Masters? punish you for your blasphemy?" Manena sat up straight. Tannae could not see her face but she imagined her mother’s tight lips and bright eyes. Her mother forbade ill talk of the Masters.
"I will not see the Masters when I die." Grandmother’s eyes were hard and her hand shook as she pointed at Manena. "Before they came, we had choices. We could serve the earth mother in our death or transcend beyond this world."
"Before they came, we lived in filth and starved like animals. We fought wars that left the land barren of young men. They have given us such wonders, as we do not deserve. You would do well to remember that and humble yourself before your time is gone." Manena stood up and put her hands on her hips. "Tannae is forbidden to visit with you unless her father or I are present. You will not fill her head with such foolishness. Her time of Union draws near, you will not frighten her with your foolish words."
Tannae hurried back to her darning by the fireside, feigning innocence when her mother returned to her chair.
"Finish your darning. Tomorrow is Tarase’s Union and you don?t want to be late for the feast tonight." Manena smiled down at her youngest daughter. "Don?t let your grandmother’s ramblings concern you. This is a time of great joy."