Letter From The Editor - Issue 56 - April 2017

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Issue 7
Stories
Silent As Dust
by James Maxey
Lost Soul
by Marie Brennan
The Price of Love
by Alan Schoolcraft
The Braiding
by Pat Esden
After This Life
by Janna Silverstein
The Smell of the Earth
by Joan L. Savage
From the Ender Saga
Ender's Homecoming
by Orson Scott Card
Tales for the Young and Unafraid
The Talk
by David Lubar
Split Decision
by David Lubar
Comics
A Plague of Butterflies
by Orson Scott Card
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews

Writing Fantasy

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The Braiding
Artwork by Emily Tolson
The Braiding
    by Pat Esden

"Maestro Oplontis, this is your glassblower?" The magus' voice sang with unexpected virility.

Iseau glanced up from her burn-scarred fingers. Magus Sharad was no older than she. Not only was he young, but he wore a leather doublet and had an exquisite sword hanging at his side. He looked more like one of the Doge's guard than the eastern magus he claimed to be.

Iseau's grandfather took her hand and placed it in Sharad's. "This is Iseau, my granddaughter, the finest master glassblower in the Venetian Republic. May her art braid with your magic to bring honor to both of our families."

Sharad's hand warmed hers and his gray eyes lit on every portion of her body.

She glared back, and as she did so she noticed the hint of a blue scarf around his neck. The same color as the ceremonial tunic she'd been given to wear for this endeavor.

A prickle ran up her spine. Did this silk bear some significance? By putting on this tunic was she somehow bonded to him? That was not the agreement. They were to travel to Venice and create a beating heart for the Doge's dying daughter -- nothing more.

Sharad's lips parted in a grin. "I was told of your skill, but not your beauty."

"I have been told very little about you." She jerked her hand from his.

Her grandfather swept between them. "Iseau has prepared examples of her work." He fluttered his fingers and two boys appeared bearing an open coffer lined with deep purple glass twinkling amid its folds.

Sharad and a crowd of onlookers pressed in around the coffer.

Iseau moved to join them, but her grandfather's fingers clamped her wrist and held her back.

His voice was low. "What do you mean by pulling your hand away from Sharad like that? Are you intent on embarrassing the family the way your parents did?"

It always came back to this -- her parents failed attempt at braiding. Her father, once a master glassblower, blinded; her alchemist mother left insane. Did what she risked mean nothing? She lowered her eyes. "Don't worry, I'll honor you."

Sharad faced the crowd and said in a loud voice, "The Doge did not lie when he said the house of Oplontis could provide me with glass as clear and pure as my magic requires, and the finest glassblower to shape it. Frankly, I did not expect to have those needs so thoroughly fulfilled."

He took Iseau's hand. "With Maestra Oplontis's talents the possibility of saving the Doge's daughter is real." He surveyed the crowd, his eyes narrowing on the village priest. "And if the church says what we do is unholy then I say: Would a benevolent God let a child die rather than use magic? Is that not a worse sin?"

Murmurs rippled through the crowd.

Iseau bit her lip. If Sharad was intent on speaking against the church, then perhaps it wasn't just honor and patronage her family needed from the Doge -- perhaps what they needed was his protection against the Pope's men.

Sharad addressed Iseau's grandfather. "In the near future I will make time to linger here in Carpus, but right now I must make haste." He turned to Iseau. "The physician-magus to the Doge sent his manservant with a message. It's not good -- the Doge's daughter is near death."

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