Last week I started this series of blog posts to share the interior art which I commissioned for Arcana and today I’m excited to conclude that series with this post.
I hope you’ve followed along and enjoyed the artwork by Marge Simon and the excerpts from all the super talented authors in this anthology. In part because technical issues really kicked my butt in trying to put this post together. But that’s only a small part 😉
Excerpt from “Cold Spells” by Diana Hurlburt:
Now the Huntress is the mother of mountains; all rocky places and secret caves belong to her, and she is best found striding from peak to peak with her bow, surefooted as a goat. So the traveler dedicated her quest to the goddess and implored the temple’s keepers for funds to return to the City of the Gods, to measure the strange cold substance found only on the bare rock of the highest peak.
“Perhaps she’ll get it,” Demetrios said, and the story was ended. People talked among themselves for a moment, conferring over the traveler’s evidence—her hands! Her poor feet! But who had ever heard of a white matter both hot and cold in the moment, soft on the wind and hard enough to break bones when fallen upon?—and then the evening turned toward wine and song, as evenings do.
But Agdo leaned against the temple wall, threading black strands of hair with linden blossoms, and a spell was cast.
There is an argument between Markos and I whether Agdo meant to cast the spell. Sometimes we do not know the deepest intents of our own hearts, and whether Agdo meant it comes to naught: the doom was laid.
Excerpt from “The Moon” by C.S. MacCath:
Three dreams of sorrow were given to Serkleit, Goddess of Art and Fermentation, Keeper of Caves at the Heart of the World, before her deification.
On the night of the first, she was a small boy running barefoot over grey dust. A veil of ice clung to the fine hair on his arms and legs. Chest muscles heaved a prayer for atmosphere that went unanswered. Above him a dog crouched, inverted, to the left of a winding road, yellow teeth bared in a downward snarl. A wolf stood to the right, suspended, howling from a place of air and sound. Serkleit reached up as he passed, hands thick with baby fat, to grasp the merlons of the towers hanging out of the meadow above. But they were far, far away, their topsy-turvyness a mockery of the safety they might have offered.
Boy. The word was a slickness under the heel. Boy, boy, boy, an edge on the blades of grass above. Boy, the wrong body in the mirror. Boy, the hated clothes in the press. It tolled like a bell in his mind, lived under his skin, in his bones, a corruption from the time he had emerged out of the Cosmic Mother’s womb into the stars. He stopped, blood on his hands and feet, flesh under his little nails. Don’t call me that! he wanted to scream but could not and wept instead. The tears turned to diamonds on his cheeks and fell away.
Excerpt from “The Words of the Sun” by Sarena Ulibarri:
The sun spoke to me today, and I can tell no one. I am telling you, dear Zinnia, my beloved sister, because you know me well enough to know I am not prone to flights of fancy, that I am not the type to speak with birds or see portends in the clouds or prophecies in my dreams. And yet, the sun spoke to me. As our army marched toward Ryland this morning, dawn broke over the mountain peak and I lifted my face to its warmth, reveling in the chance to burn away the chill of the night. One sunbeam seemed to shine directly on me like a tunnel of light. I looked into it and saw the face of an old man, frowning sternly back at me. He spoke, but it was not in any language I have heard before. When I turned to see if anyone else had heard, the vision and voice disappeared, and everyone strode steadily as though nothing had happened.
Now I know what questions you will want to ask me: Have I been sleeping enough? Am I well-nourished? Have I been checking my drinks for contaminates? And the answer to all of those, of course, is no.
Excerpt from “My Brother’s Keeper” by Beth Cato:
Half the county figured my big brother Samuel had bricks for brains. There was mighty good evidence in favor of that, like the time he decided to walk through downtown naked simply cause it was a hot day and clothes just plain didn’t feel good. But I knew Samuel wasn’t a dummy, just quiet, with his mind in a different place than the rest of us.
So when I heard him with two speakers of dark words, I knew to hunker down and listen. Here by the barn was the most private spot on our property–or would be, if I wasn’t up in the rafters.
I smelled the bad guys before I heard them. Mama didn’t get to teach me much, but she did teach me to heed my nose when it came to good and evil and all the grey in between, and those men stank like the septic tank being sucked out on an August afternoon. I gagged against my wrist to keep quiet, Mama’s old chain bracelet warm at my lips.
“I want to kill Macaulay,” said Samuel.
Excerpt from “Age of Aquarius” by Cat McDonald:
Ganymede looked at himself in the mirror behind the bottles, then at his boss, who sat over her glass of wine at the bar. She had been a young lady when she’d found him, and it took a little math for him to realize that had been forty years ago. Her blonde hair had gone white and lines spread out across her face, which had come loose at the edges. He’d barely noticed it.
He, on the other hand, hadn’t aged. He woke up from dreams of Olympus some time before getting this job, and he’d stopped thinking about what he was, or how old. Hazy memories gave way to a long void, and then the modern world, and the highway, and the woman who almost ran him over. Carolyn gave him a job at the bar and a room in the hotel, and forty years to try and figure the rest out. He hadn’t made much headway.
“Staying late today?”
She sighed and held her glass out to him. “Just needed a drink, sweetheart. Do you remember when we met?”
“I mostly just remember headlights!” He started to laugh, but stopped when she didn’t join him.