CITY OF HOPE AND RUIN
by Kit Campbell and Siri Paulson
Every night the monsters hunt.
A city that is the whole world: Theosophy and her companions in the City militia do their best to protect the civilians from the monsters, but they keep crawling from the Rift and there’s nowhere to run. Theosophy knows she’ll die fighting. It’s the best kind of death she’s seen, and at least she can save lives in the meantime.
They say the Scarred carve you up while you’re still alive.
A village in the shadow of a forest: Refugees from the border whisper about the oncoming Scarred, but Briony can’t convince her brother to relocate his children to safety. Briony will do anything to protect them. She owes them that much, even if it means turning to forbidden magic.
When Theosophy and Briony accidentally make contact across the boundaries of their worlds, they realize that solutions might finally be within reach. A world beyond the City would give Theosophy’s people an escape, and the City’s warriors could help Briony protect her family from the Scarred. Each woman sees in the other a strength she lacks—and maybe something more.
All they need to do is find a way across the dimensions to each other before their enemies close in.
Dean Prosody was pacing in her cramped office when Theosophy arrived. Her bayonet and whetstone lay forgotten on her desk.
Theosophy stopped just inside the door. "Sir?"
"He's not in his quarters, and he took his spear," said the dean, not looking at her.
Theosophy reached into her belt pouch and pulled out her double crystal, tuned to her partners. One side had gone dark, of course, but the other pulsed weakly. She could feel the direction of the pull—toward the ruins—but that meant nothing, surely he wouldn't be such a complete...
"What did you say to him?" Dean Prosody demanded.
"Nothing about avenging Rhetoric?"
"I should hope not," she said. "I was a little busy fighting for my life. With one partner gone and the other just standing there..."
The dean gave her a look, blue eyes snapping.
"What? I let him mourn after. But he still let the third one get away, and almost got me killed. I had to say something."
The dean sighed.
"There's a reason I'm the longest-serving fighter. And it's not because I'm nice."
"About that, Theosophy...maybe you should consider stepping down."
She opened her mouth, but nothing came out.
"I know you're the reason a lot of these kids are still alive. But you're turning sour. It's not healthy."
Theosophy grimaced. The thing was, staying alive the longest wasn't any kind of mercy. It just meant everyone you used to know was dead.
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ABOUT KIT AND SIRI It is a little known fact that Kit was raised in the wild by a marauding gang of octopuses. It wasn't until she was 25 that she was discovered by a traveling National Geographic scientist and brought back to civilization. This is sometimes apparent in the way that she attempts to escape through tubes when startled.
Her transition to normalcy has been slow, but scientists predict that she will have mastered basics such as fork use sometime in the next year. More complex skills, such as proper grocery store etiquette, may be forever outside her reach.
Siri Paulson writes all over the fantasy and science fiction spectrum, including (so far) secondary-world fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk, Gothic, historical paranormal, and YA with spaceships. She is also the chief editor at Turtleduck Press (http://turtleduckpress.com/). Siri grew up in Alberta, Canada, but now lives in an old house in Toronto. By day, she edits non-fiction for the government. Her other current passion is contra dance, a social/folk dance done to live Celtic and roots music. Her favourite places in the world are the Canadian Rocky Mountains and a little valley in Norway.
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