Equus Battle Royal — Semifinals (rnd. 2)

Fourteen Equus contributors have agreed to pit the equine in their story against all the other horse-like creatures in the anthology and fight it out until only one is left standing. That victor shall win bragging rights… and maybe I’ll make a little ‘I won!’ graphic of some sort 😛

How it Works:

Each Tuesday the competitors will be announced and voting will open. Every vote a story receives counts as one point.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the competitors will each roll a twenty-sided die. The resulting number of points will be added to their own score. I will update the scores via a comment on the blog post and social media.

Voting closes on Sunday at midnight MST.

Monday the winner (the story with the highest score) will be announced and move on to the next round.

Story Title: The Boys from Witless Bay

Author: Pat Flewwelling

Equine Combatant’s Name: unknown

Species: Kelpie

Strength: 13

Dexterity: 9

Constitution: 12

Intellect: 16

Charisma: 16

Special Attacks: Super sneaky musical abduction attack! Underwater zombification of enemies!

Special Defences: Superglue skin, now with more hazardous waste slime!

Story Title: “Rue the Day”

Author: Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Equine Combatant’s Name: Nova & Reaver (they’re a team)

Species: Unicorn

Strength: 18

Dexterity: 17

Constitution: 16

Intellect: 11

Charisma: 18

(per Pathfinder stats w/ D&D mod)

Special Attacks: Goring Horn (+8), Striking Hooves (+4)

These specially-trained war unicorns are skilled in the “airs above the ground,” or in RPG terms Acrobatics, and thus can Rogue their way across a battlefield to stomp you dead while simultaneously stabbing your buddy. And there’s not a thing you can do about it.

Special Defences: Magic Circle Against Evil, Too Damn Pretty To Die.

Evil Alignment creatures have difficulty closing distance against a unicorn. They also are a natural example of Reynolds’ Law, being Too Damn Pretty To Die.

How to Vote:

Comment on this blog post with the title of the story you are voting for.

For example, if this week’s competitors were:

Star Wars vs. Star Trek

and you wanted to vote for Star Trekyou would leave a comment that said, “I vote for Star Trek.”

It’s just that easy.

You may vote once each round, and each vote enters your name into a draw to win an awesome book (details here) so you could win alongside your favourite equine!

 

Cast your votes now, and may the best equine win!

Photo courtesy of Worth1000.com

Semifinals Round One Results

Wow. This was an exciting round with the competitors getting votes and passing the lead back and forth right up until the very end! When voting closed only one point separated the two equines!

The winner of the first round of the semifinals, and moving on to the finals is:

Story Title: Riders in the Sky

Author: V. F. LeSann

Equine Combatant’s Name): Peregrine

Species: Damned soul

Every person who votes has their name tossed into a virtual hat for a chance to win their choice of any of these unclaimed books. This week’s winner is Sylvie Stulic. Sylvie, please contact me to claim your prize 🙂

(More details and a larger version of this picture are available at http://www.rhondaparrish.com/incentive/ )

Starting tomorrow our combatants will be:

The War Unicorns from “Rue the Day”

vs

The kelpie from “The Boys From Witless Bay”

 

Excerpt from “A Mother Unicorn’s Advice for her Daughter” by J.J. Roth:

Hide in plain sight. Let the dappled light through the forest canopy color your whiteness with camouflaging shadow. Let stillness be your friend when the hunter’s horn or adventurer’s voice carries through the vegetal quiet.

Breathe without sound. Depend on secrecy and stealth.

Once you are sighted, the hunt begins. Once the hunt begins, you are vulnerable.

Be generous, but circumspect, with your gifts. Dip your horn in struggling streams when no one is looking. Draw its healing point along the withered bodies of sick ferrets and ailing fawns. Lay its curative spiral against the breasts of lost, unconscious humans, but stay out of their healthy fellows’ sight.

Cover your tracks as you leave. If caught, you’re more likely to be destroyed than loved.

This constant hiding may make you feel unreal.

This is normal.

If you like what you’re reading, you are going to love Equus. And good news — you can reserve your copy now to make sure you’re among the very first to get it when it’s released on July 18th!

Pre-order Equus now:

World Weaver Press
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iBookstore

Equus Battle Royal – Semifinals

Fourteen Equus contributors have agreed to pit the equine in their story against all the other horse-like creatures in the anthology and fight it out until only one is left standing. That victor shall win bragging rights… and maybe I’ll make a little ‘I won!’ graphic of some sort 😛

How it Works:

Each Tuesday the competitors will be announced and voting will open. Every vote a story receives counts as one point.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the competitors will each roll a twenty-sided die. The resulting number of points will be added to their own score. I will update the scores via a comment on the blog post and social media.

Voting closes on Sunday at midnight MST.

Monday the winner (the story with the highest score) will be announced and move on to the next round.

Story Title: A Mother Unicorn’s Advice to Her Daughter

Author: J. J. Roth

Equine Combatant’s Name: Mother “Badass” Unicorn

Species: Unicorn

Strength: 16

Dexterity: 12

Constitution: 9

Intellect: 16

Charisma: 12

Special Attacks: Self-esteem (psychic) – her certainty of herself makes her enemy doubtful and easier to attack; Mother-flurry (dark) – she talks at her quarry, giving them unsolicited advice until they flee for their lives

Special Defences: Camouflage (usable in forests only), stealth, running away at high speeds

Story Title: Riders in the Sky

Author: V. F. LeSann

Equine Combatant’s Name): Peregrine

Species: Damned soul

Strength: 18

Dexterity: 15

Constitution: 16

Intellect: 13

Charisma: 12

Special Attacks: Iron hooves that get red-hot for kick attack. Stubborn horse-logic. Flame mane and tail for striking. Occasionally bursts into flame and moves at ghost-speed. He will bite. Plus when fighting demons.

Special Defences: Soul-bound and telepathically linked with a fully-armed and generally cranky Rider. Shared health pool with the Rider. Can look in someone’s eyes and judge the weight of their souls. He is not considered a living creature (damned/undead)

How to Vote:

Comment on this blog post with the title of the story you are voting for.

For example, if this week’s competitors were:

Star Wars vs. Star Trek

and you wanted to vote for Star Trekyou would leave a comment that said, “I vote for Star Trek.”

It’s just that easy.

You may vote once each round, and each vote enters your name into a draw to win an awesome book (details here) so you could win alongside your favourite equine!

Cast your votes now, and may the best equine win!

Kelpie by Kasey -- http://kasettetape.tumblr.com/post/96373863232/this-was-just-supposed-to-be-a-sketch-but-then-i

Round Seven Results

Wow. Round seven was a fight to the finish and the results were very close. In the end only three points separated the competitors. The winner of round seven is:

Story Title: The Boys from Witless Bay

Author: Pat Flewwelling

Equine Combatant’s Name: unknown

Species: Kelpie

Starting tomorrow our new combatants will be:

A Mother Unicorn’s Advice for her Daughter

vs

Riders in the Sky

 

Excerpt from “The Last Ride of Hettie Richter” by Cat McDonald:

Hettie chased after them. At first, the running was easy, and she could hold the riders in her vision as solid earth flew by beneath her. Her breaths carried in the scent of the nearby creek, bloated with summer heat and rot, and thick, wet summer air coursed in and out of her.

But step by step, they drifted away from her. She bruised her feet on stones in the road, struggled to fill herself with air, wore her knees out, and still the riders drifted away. Hettie only managed to keep up with them—screaming until she had to choose between screaming and running—until the crossroads where her family’s lane met the main road.

There, at last, hats and heads disappeared around a corner, shrouded by thick greenery. Without that fixed point in her vision to focus on, she collapsed. A pain leeched out of her knee to the rest of her leg, her ankle rolled under her, and she toppled to the ground, knees first, in a wheel-rut.

“Damn you,” she whispered through the wreckage of her voice on heaving, desperate breaths, “damn you both. Walk tall in heaven my ass.”

Dirt wedged its way under her fingernails as she tried to force herself back up, and brutal sunlight beat on her back. The rage that had drawn her out of the house still pressed on her insides, squeezed against her stomach. She fought for every breath, and coughed bitterly as her burning lungs failed each time.

She coughed and choked. The burning rose up inside her, past her heart, under her ribs, and into her throat as a huge, solid mass. Another cough brought something thick and warm up to touch the back of her throat. She gagged as it slithered out over her tongue and fell to the earth in front of her, a huge black-red fleshy lump about the size of an apple.

As she watched, it soaked into the ground at the crossroads. Spit and iron-tasting bile dripped over her teeth after it, and she sat there shaking for a few moments, confused and cold and slightly hollow.

If you like what you’re reading, you are going to love Equus. And good news — you can reserve your copy now to make sure you’re among the very first to get it when it’s released on July 18th!

Pre-order Equus now:

World Weaver Press
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iBookstore

Fire Wishlist

I want to take a few minutes to talk about my wishlist for Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns, and yes, that is a rooster up there. I chose it specifically because it’s probably not what you’d expect to see at the top of a blog post about fire and fiery creatures.

And the number one thing I really want to see in the submissions to Fire is something completely appropriate and yet wholly unexpected.

Like a fiery rooster. Because why should phoenixes get to have all the fun? 😉

Fire is dramatic. It is bold. Ferocious. Powerful. Beautiful. Terrifying. It can consume everything in its path, or push back the darkness so you can see the terrors which loom all around you. It can purify or purge. Brand or bless.

Above all I want to see stories that embrace those first five descriptors:

  • Dramatic
  • Bold
  • Ferocious
  • Powerful
  • Beautiful

And any tale which captures the dichotomy of fire, the yin-yang of it (without smacking me in the face with it) will get serious bonus points.

Including those things doesn’t mean you need to exclude other things though. A story can be both dramatic and funny. You can write beautifully about ugly things. Meek characters can do bold things — or a bold prose style can make readers fall in love with a character for their weaknesses (or despite them).

I’m going to get a bit more specific here than I usually do on these wishlist-type posts because there are specific creatures named right there in the title of the anthology. Demons, dragons and djinns.

When you’re submitting to an anthology the smart tactic is to try and make your story stand out in a positive way. In this case that might mean choosing to write about the most obscure fire creature/magician/thing you can possibly think of–and don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad strategy–but here’s the thing… I need some demons, dragons and djinns.

Ideally I would like about a quarter of the stories I accept to be dragon-y, a quarter to be demon-y and the last half to surprise me… but include at least two which are djinn-y.

I say ‘dragon-y’, ‘demon-y’ and ‘djinn-y’ because a dragon-y story doesn’t need to have the dragon as the main character, nor does it need to be all about the dragon. It just has to be dragon-y. It’s like truthiness, I suppose.

(Quick side note about dragons, specifically — it probably goes without saying but for this anthology I’m looking for fiery dragons. Save the water, air and earth dragons for those later anthologies :-p)

The point I was trying to make before I went off on that bit of a ramble is I really do need some dragons, demons and djinns in this anthology so if you have a great idea for a demon story and a good idea for a salamander story but you’re thinking, “Nah, everyone is going to be sending in demon stories and I don’t want to compete with them all — I’ll write this salamander story instead.” don’t. Go for the great idea.

Confession:

Djinns are mostly in the subtitle because I am an alliteration hound, I love djinns, and I could make an argument for them being fiery creatures. Alas, since I can also make an argument for them being born of air I don’t intend for them to take up as much of the Table of Contents as dragons and demons. Though you never know, if I get enough amazing djinn stories that could totally change.

I want an ifrit story (bonus points if it’s actually set within ifrit society and the ifrits are demonstrably different from humans!), and a salamander story. Someone please send me a story with a lava monster and, possibly related, a fire mage. No fire anthology would be complete without a phoenix story, and any story that includes a hellhound (especially one that’s misunderstood) will likely discover the path to my shortlist is… well, short.

But you don’t need me to give you a list of creatures associated with fire, do you? Google can do that better than I can.

And, because I’ve been asked, you don’t need fire-based creatures in your story, fire itself can fulfill the required fiery element for your tale.

Wildfires? Sure!

Michael Bay-type explosions? Why not?

Bombs dropping during The Blitz? Please!

Other things that will give you an advantage while submitting:

  • I am completely infatuated with WWI & WWII as a setting. Any story set during, between or shortly following them will definitely make my eyes light up when I begin reading.
  • A fiery solarpunk story? Think you can pull that off? I’d love to read it!
  • Anything that matches the aesthetic of artist Omar Gilani’s Pakistan+ series (plus fire!)
  • For this anthology I’ll be leaning further toward fantasy than science fiction or horror but fire in space? On a whole other planet?
  • Is fire sentient?
  • I’d like something that dates back to when humans first gained control over fire. Whether this takes the form of something set in prehistoric times or a take on more of a ‘How raven brought fire to the people’ or ‘How Prometheus stole fire from the gods’ type thing… well, that would be up to you.
    • Does man command fire, or does fire command man?
  • I like diverse characters and settings. And by diverse I mean in every way you can possibly imagine.
  • Have you got a fiery story that is set in the Arctic? *makes grabby hands*
  • Fiery fairy tale?
  • A story with absolutely no humans in it at all would be awesome.
  • Fire can transform. Got a fiery shapeshifter story to tell?

And if your story is nothing like anything I’ve described here — send it. Please send it. I love reading a great story about something I never could have imagined.

This anthology is the first volume in a brand new series. That means, to some extent, it is going to help define that series. Which means you get to help define that series. Is it going to be upbeat and fast-paced? Angsty and emotional? Fairy tales and folklore? Well, we’re going to find that out together 🙂

Finally, because it’s become an FAQ–probably the best way to get an idea of what I like is to read one of my other anthologies, but when in doubt–submit. The worst thing that can happen is I’ll say no. And I’m not a jerk about it, I promise.

Call for Submissions:

The ability for people to control (to some extent at least) fire has long been held as one of the major events that contributed to human evolution, but when fire eludes or escapes our control it is also one of the most destructive forces on earth. Associated with passion, power, transformation and purification, fire is a ferocious element with an unquenchable appetite.

We want to explore the many facets of this beautifully furious element and the creatures associated with it so Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns will be filled with stories about every kind of fiery creature you can imagine, not only those listed in the subtitle. We’re looking for phoenixes, ifrits, salamanders, lava monsters and fiery beasts no one has ever heard of before. And of course this anthology will not be complete without at least one demon, dragon and djinn!

Rights and compensation: Payment: $50 CAD flat fee and a paperback copy of the anthology. In exchange we are seeking first world rights in English and exclusive right to publish in print and electronic format for six months after publication date, after which publisher retains nonexclusive right to continue to publish for the life of the anthology.

Open submission period: June 1, 2017 – August 15, 2017

Length: Under 7,500 words

No simultaneous or multiple submissions.

No reprints.

Submit here

(http://bit.ly/FireAntho)

Because I’ve been asked — though payment is in Canadian dollars you do not need to be Canadian to submit. Everyone is welcome.

Equus Battle Royal — Round Seven

Fourteen Equus contributors have agreed to pit the equine in their story against all the other horse-like creatures in the anthology and fight it out until only one is left standing. That victor shall win bragging rights… and maybe I’ll make a little ‘I won!’ graphic of some sort 😛

How it Works:

Each Tuesday the competitors will be announced and voting will open. Every vote a story receives counts as one point.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the competitors will each roll a twenty-sided die. The resulting number of points will be added to their own score. I will update the scores via a comment on the blog post and social media.

Voting closes on Sunday at midnight MST.

Monday the winner (the story with the highest score) will be announced and move on to the next round.

In addition, anyone who votes will be entered to win a book. Details are here.

VS.

Story Title: The Boys from Witless Bay

Author: Pat Flewwelling

Equine Combatant’s Name: unknown

Species: Kelpie

Strength: 13

Dexterity: 9

Constitution: 12

Intellect: 16

Charisma: 16

Special Attacks: Super sneaky musical abduction attack! Underwater zombification of enemies!

Special Defences: Superglue skin, now with more hazardous waste slime!

Story Title: The Last Ride of Hettie Richter

Author: Cat McDonald

Equine Combatant’s Name: The Demon of Richter Hollow

Species: Demon

Strength: 18 (The demon takes the shape of a plough horse of abnormal height and strength)

Dexterity: 7 (It has hooves)

Constitution: 18 (Just huge man)

Intellect: 4 (The Demon of Richter Hollow is a creature made entirely of hate. It lacks any other decision-making or problem-solving skills.)

Charisma: 14 (The Demon of Richter Hollow is magnetic in the way all hate is.)

Special Attacks: None.

Special Defences: The area surrounding the Demon of Richter Hollow is hot, so hot that vegetation scorches and burns, wood catches fire, and water boils.

How to Vote:

Comment on this blog post with the title of the story you are voting for.

For example, if this week’s competitors were:

Star Wars vs. Star Trek

and you wanted to vote for Star Trekyou would leave a comment that said, “I vote for Star Trek.”

It’s just that easy.

 

Cast your votes now, and may the best equine win!

Photo courtesy of Worth1000.com

Round Six Results

Round six was a story of RNG — good or bad depends on which equine you were cheering for. In the end, some bad rolls decided the victor of this competition more than anything.

The winner of round six is

Story Title: Riders in the Sky

Author: V. F. LeSann

Equine Combatant’s Name: Peregrine

Species: Damned soul

 

Starting tomorrow our combatants will be:

“The Boys from Witless Bay” by Pat Flewwelling

vs

“The Last Ride of Hettie Richter” by Cat McDonald

 

Excerpt from “Neither Snow, Nor Rain, Nor Heat-Ray” by M.L.D. Curelas:

No one had been alarmed when the first Martian vessels had landed, pocking the ground like open sores. They’d only been mildly concerned when the cone-shaped ships vomited forth the spindly, tripod machines. It wasn’t until the trains stopped running that panic had set in. Then the tripods had come with their Black Smoke and heat-rays.

The Martians had disrupted communications. Nothing worked, not the telegraph machines nor the new telephones. Messengers were needed. Messengers on horseback, because human runners were too slow and easily killed by the Martians and their Black Smoke. But horses were scarce so when the general had sighted Beezus, a fine hunter, with a skilled rider—her—they’d been pressed into service on the spot, no matter that she was a girl, a civilian, and a daughter of good family.

And now she and Beezus would be part of the messenger team sent out to the docks—integral to the coordination of the Navy escort for the evacuee ships, or so she’d been told. Emma scowled. Her revolver would’ve been of better use helping her family travel to Chelmsford than giving messages to a boat.

The mare snorted against her neck and started mouthing her hair. Emma laughed. “Enough of that.” She pushed the horse and Beezus obligingly pulled her head back into her stall.

Emma rubbed the mare’s nose. “Can’t fool you, can I? Yes, we’re going out.” When Beezus nodded her head, Emma wagged her finger. “Business. Not a pleasure ride.”

Beezus huffed.

After checking the mare’s water and hay, Emma resumed her equipment check. It was the mare’s nervous whinny that halted her. She caught sight of Beezus’ wide, rolling eyes and cast a furious glare at the stable door.

“Stay out there!” she yelled. Scowling, she set down the saddle and shut the top half of Beezus’ stall door. Maybe that would block the pungent scent of that Moreauvian fiend enough for Beezus to calm down.

Emma opened the stable door, grabbed the arm of the man standing there, and tugged him around the corner of the building toward a garden shed—it wasn’t safe for anyone to linger long outside, in case of Martian patrols.

The soldiers had watered down the grounds, washing away most of the deadly Black Smoke, but Emma could see traces of the black grit in the flower beds. She stayed clear of those areas, just in case.

Once inside the shed, she crossed her arms over her chest. “Well?”

Incentive!

I want you to vote in the Equus Battle Royal.

I mean I really want you to vote.

So I’m incentivizing voting 🙂

In this and all subsequent rounds anyone who votes will have their name tossed into a virtual hat. At the end of the round when I announce the equine winner I will also announce a human one. I’ll draw a name from the hat and that person will receive their choice of books from the photo (the two little ones count as one together).

So now, not only does your vote count toward helping one equine rein supreme (sorrynotsorry) but it will also give you a chance to win a kick-ass* book.

Dudes, it doesn’t get much better than that. And it’s so easy. Leave a comment, win a book. Boom! Boom!

Now go vote!

 

*Yeah I’m biased, but it’s true :-p

ETA:

Round six winner, Jayne Barnard claimed a copy of Corvidae as her prize

 

Holiday Themed Anthologies

Image by © 2000-2009 Dieter Spears

In addition to being an editor and anthologist I occasionally take the form of a writer which means I totally understand that if you write a short story specifically for an anthology you are taking a risk. Depending upon the theme if the story doesn’t make it into the anthology it’s intended for it can be a nightmare to try and place elsewhere. I also understand that, to varying degrees depending on your story, Mrs. Claus is that kind of tricksy anthology.

With that in mind I wanted to gather together a few other anthologies that are currently open to submissions and have a holiday theme. Perhaps some people who submitted unsuccessfully to Mrs. Claus might find a home for their stories here (because I pass on stories for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with quality). And perhaps some people might be inspired to write something new for them.

I am in no way affiliated with any of these anthologies and I don’t know anything about them, their editors, or publishers beyond what you can find on the submission pages I link to.

 

Bon Chance Press — Christmas short stories (romantic elements helpful but not required)

This one takes a different approach than I’ve seen elsewhere. You don’t submit the story but rather a pitch for a story?

Deadline: August 30th

 

Splickety Magazine — Wreck the Halls

They seem to be looking for funny, heart-warming Christmas stories for this one.

Deadline: September 22nd

 

Black Heart Magazine — Holiday Hell

Sounds like a bit of a darker take on the holiday theme. Submissions don’t open until the end of June.

Deadline: October 30th

 

Thank you, Sarena, for helping me track these down. If anyone else knows of any other holiday themed anthologies that are currently open to submissions please let me know, I will be happy to add them to the list!

 

Equus Battle Royal — Round Six

Fourteen Equus contributors have agreed to pit the equine in their story against all the other horse-like creatures in the anthology and fight it out until only one is left standing. That victor shall win bragging rights… and maybe I’ll make a little ‘I won!’ graphic of some sort 😛

How it Works:

Each Tuesday the competitors will be announced and voting will open. Every vote a story receives counts as one point.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the competitors will each roll a twenty-sided die. The resulting number of points will be added to their own score. I will update the scores via a comment on the blog post and social media.

Voting closes on Sunday at midnight MST.

Monday the winner (the story with the highest score) will be announced and move on to the next round.

VS.

Story Title: Neither Snow, nor Rain, nor Heat-Ray

Author: M.L.D. Curelas

Equine Combatant’s Name: Beezus

Species: Thoroughbred cross

Strength: 18

Dexterity: 18

Constitution: 12

Intellect: 7

Charisma: 12

Special Attacks: Beezus’s Thoroughbred blood has gifted her with speed. She can start and stop on a dime. She also uses her fast breaks for surprise attacks, quickly closing the gap between her and her foe. Once Beezus has brought the battle to her enemy, she will crush their skull with her hooves. Beezus’s speed also makes her ideal for delivering payloads.

Special Defences: Beezus has highly developed senses, especially her hearing and sense of smell. Those senses aid Beezus’s tactical skills, helping her choose the ideal battle grounds. Her natural agility, honed by her field-hunting training, allows her to elude attacks. In tight situations, Beezus will employ deadly force with her teeth and hooves.

Story Title: Riders in the Sky

Author: V. F. LeSann

Equine Combatant’s Name: Peregrine

Species: Damned soul

Strength: 18

Dexterity: 15

Constitution: 16

Intellect: 13

Charisma: 12

Special Attacks: Iron hooves that get red-hot for kick attack. Stubborn horse-logic. Flame mane and tail for striking. Occasionally bursts into flame and moves at ghost-speed. He will bite. Plus when fighting demons.

Special Defences: Soul-bound and telepathically linked with a fully-armed and generally cranky Rider. Shared health pool with the Rider. Can look in someone’s eyes and judge the weight of their souls. He is not considered a living creature (damned/undead)

How to Vote:

Comment on this blog post with the title of the story you are voting for.

For example, if this week’s competitors were:

Star Wars vs. Star Trek

and you wanted to vote for Star Trekyou would leave a comment that said, “I vote for Star Trek.”

It’s just that easy.

 

Cast your votes now, and may the best equine win!

Round Five Results

 

Well, damn. It doesn’t get any closer than this.

When it was time to close the voting for this round one of the competitors was ahead by a single vote. Then I found a vote waiting in the ‘Is this spam?’ airlock for me to approve it. I did approve it and boom! Suddenly we had a tie.

So I opened voting back up again for a couple hours and… we still have a tie.

I didn’t have any system in place to deal with a tie.

Thinking on my feet I’ve decided to say the equine who got the most votes on the blog (rather than points via dice rolls) is the winner. That means our winner is:

Story Title: Rue the Day

Author: Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Equine Combatant’s Name: Nova & Reaver (they’re a team)

Species: Unicorn

Nova and Reaver will be moving on to the semifinals.

Starting tomorrow our combatants will be:

Beezus from “Neither Snow, nor Rain, nor Heat-Ray” by M.L.D. Curelas

vs

Peregrine from “Riders in the Sky” by V.F. LeSann

Excerpt from “A Complete Mare” by Tamsin Showbrook:

Its voice is drowned out by a scream. My own. I don’t know whether it’s my voice or the feeling of my chest splitting open but it’s the only thing I can hear. Falling to my knees, I lean forward and let my four arms take the strain of whatever’s forcing me open. I can see something emerging and then, like someone’s thrown a switch, my eyes stop working. The impression of what I last saw is still there, but even that’s fading. I’m conscious of being grabbed by the scruff of my neck, lifted up, and then the switch is thrown back on and my vision powers up as I swing back and forth in the gorgonite’s grasp, my feet catching on the path every few running steps.

What I see is crazy though. No human brain is built to see 360 degrees all at once, but that’s what I think I’m seeing—the fug of smoke, the side of the gorgonite, the Hall and the garden and behind us and to the side and—and I have to shut my eyes because it’s too much. My shoulders ache like they’re supporting an extra weight and, dreading what I’m fairly certain I’ll find, I raise my hands and press my four palms against four heads. They’re all human, but there’s four of them. Front, back, left, right. I can feel the rush of air on all of them now.

I have never hated my ancestors so much.