Hoorah! Hoorah! Hoorah! Three rousing cheers! Rejoice with me, for I have sold another story to the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust, to appear in Sword and Sorceress 31 later this year! This makes four stories I’ve had in Sword and Sorceress anthologies (22, 23, 30, 31). So YAY!
The stories in 23, 30, and 31 all featured the warrior Pimchan and her slave children. At least, they were children in the story in S&S23. Seven years later, in S&S30 they were grown and freed. in “Simplicity,” the working title for this year’s story, the boy has gone off to seek his fortune. Nadia, the girl, wants Pimchan to get new slave children to help her with domestic work, but Pimchan declines.
Then this happens.
The White Monsters’ Arrival
excerpt from “Simplicity”
by Marian Allen
[They stood] Staring with round pale eyes beneath colorless hair and brows, staring out of faces as white as the moon herself.
Foreigners! She had seen a few of them before, these strange people from across the seas. She knew they came in different colors, some very near to the gold or reddish-brown of real people, others black or – most peculiar – white, like these. Fahr-ang, real people called them, except for the ones who called them monsters.
Pimchan and the courier exchanged glances. He nodded, and she gestured for Nadia to join them.
The housekeeper gasped when she saw the children.
“Monsters! Are these young ones, or just little ones?”
The courier rumbled a chuckle. “Young ones.” He pulled a folded paper from inside his tunic and handed it to Pimchan. It bore the All-Father’s personal seal.
The courier climbed onto the cart, reached behind the cage, and hauled out two boxes bound with leather, one with each hand. He hopped to the ground, carried the boxes to the house, and plopped them down next to the wall. “These belong to them.”
Nadia clapped her hands twice for emphasis. “Put them back in the wagon!”
The courier, as was proper, watched Pimchan for his cue, and ignored Nadia when Pimchan did.
Pimchan broke the seal on the paper he’d given her and held it to catch the light from the entryway’s lantern. The writing was in the All-Father’s elegant, spidery hand.
Greetings, my Warrior.
As your former Male is grown and gone, taking your Overseer with him, and as your presence has permitted your town to be so prosperous it has no unwanted children, I am taking the liberty of sending you two unwanted children from my own compound.
Their parents were advisers to my court from one of the Fahr-ang lands doing business with our Blessed Land. The parents were reportedly killed by footpads when they left our compound to visit the Fahr-ang quarter which has grown up near the docks. Other Fahr-ang are demanding I release these children to them, but I am disinclined to do so.
I present them to you, nameless, as is customary.
“These are the slaves you requested,” Pimchan said, rereading the message. “Congratulations: You’re now an Overseer.”
“I didn’t ask for monsters! We can’t have them in the house! Remember what happened the last time a monster came here?”
Grimly, Pimchan said, “I’m not likely to forget murder. Nevertheless, the All-Father has given them to me, and that’s an end to it.” If only she could believe that.
I’m very very very very excited!
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Someone gives a character a gift that’s more of a burden.