The Warrior asked herself: Why was she being extorted to take a walk in the country? Who would benefit? Who would suffer?

What others are saying…

Allen balances quick forward momentum with immersive details about Pimchan’s magic, job, and culture. Stellar worldcraft, character development, and pacing combine to make this one of the best stories in the anthology.
–Eugie Foster
The Fix Online


Pimchan drew her serpentine blue-steel dagger and lifted it high.

“Let there be steel between me and mine.  Let there be a sharp edge.”  She gave way to anger at the unexpected trespass, to resentment at having to set protections appropriate to the wilds but–usually–unheard of in a Warrior’s home.  “Let my Male and my Female, my Overseer and myself pass unharmed, but let all the unprotected feel the full power of my arm.”

The curling runes near the dagger’s tip darkened, then faded again.

Pimchan sheathed the weapon, willing her emotion to go with it.

She climbed the garden wall so quickly she seemed to levitate, and stood atop it, surveying the paths around what was supposed to be her inviolable sanctuary.  Invasion was bad enough–Warriors had been attacked in their safeholds before–but kidnapping a Warrior’s attendant slaves was even more perilous a gamble.  Who would be so stupid?  Who would have so much more to gain than to lose?

She looked down, focusing her eyes to see what was no longer there.  Finally, a vague shape coalesced into two shadows, one carrying a smaller shadow.  They clarified into a man and a woman, the man carrying Pimchan’s Male.  They climbed into an oxcart; the woman mounted the driver’s seat and picked up the reins, the man clambered into a hollow in the middle of a stack of bulging grain sacks, lay down there with the unconscious child, and flipped a cloth over the hiding place.

The wagon pulled away to the north, toward the market.

Pimchan jumped from the wall, landing lightly, and followed.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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