My father’s family had produced monster-finders for several generations. More monsters were being born than ever; our village didn’t have enough finder power to track them all, or shaper power to abort or fix those the finders found, so many people had to offer their offspring to the Shadows.
Across the landscape of the battlefield, men stared sightlessly into the sky, their armor black with blood, their steaming intestines spread over the ground. Swarms of crows covered them in a jumping, fluttering carpet. Camp women scavenged among the corpses, cutting the throats of the dying and looting the bodies for anything of worth.
Walter’s mind was at one time rich with emotions other than hunger, but those feelings had long since fallen away. They’d dropped from his being like the flesh, now absent, which had once kept the wind from whistling through his cheeks. He remembered those inner tides but vaguely, for he lived in the eternal present, with barely a shred of memory left in which to contain them.
The photograph is of a woman at the center of a forest. She is slim and tall and pale as the birches she stands among. The shadows turn her ribs and spine into branches, into knots in the wood. Around her arms, the peeling white bark of the birches, curved in bracelets. Between her thighs, the hair is dense and springy like moss. She is turning into a tree.
Celia Townsend’s mother brought up the subject of debutante balls for the first time in June. It was the day after graduation, and they were discussing when Celia would have to be home from Maine at the end of the summer to get ready for her freshman year at Vassar.
He felt death coming a moment before it struck. In the lingering gray twilight, Smoke lay on his bedding, eyes not quite closed and mind adrift, only half-aware of the sounds of the encampment around him: steel on whetstone, the rattle of dice, a soft song, and loud bragging.
The young necromancer is a blight on the social landscape, because when his sweetheart meets with an untimely interruption of service (don’t they all? don’t they always?), he’s bound to do something the rest of us regret.
In the middle of the maze, there’s always a monster. If there were no monster, people would happily set up house where it’s warm and windowless and comfortable. The monster is required. The monster is a real estate disclosure.
Once upon a time, to a family of house mice there was born a son named Gordon. He looked very much like his father and mother and all his brothers and sisters, who were gray and had bright, twitchy, black eyes, but what went on inside Gordon was very different from what went on inside the rest of his family.