Archive for May, 2013

The place was abuzz with magic. It was so strong it made Samal’s teeth ache, but even without sensing the aura it would have been obvious – snow whirled all around, driven by wind bitter enough to sting through Samal’s dense white pelt, but that one spot was calm, lush, and by all appearances warm. Time was out of joint there – the gloom of arctic night was split by the illumination of a sun at zenith that shone only there, on that placid water garden.

The centrepiece of which was a block of unmelting ice – with a figure trapped inside.

This discordant zone was doubtless the very source of the region’s eternal storms which he’d come seeking. It stank of black magic, but didn’t seem directly harmful to anyone but its hapless focus. Samal stepped over the boundary.

One moment, he was leaning on his staff with both hands and planting all four paws against the wind. The next, all was calm, and sunlight poured down on him. The reprieve was sinfully delightful – but he wasn’t here to enjoy the scenery.


Most of the bar’s patrons were regulars, just here for a normal Friday night. But there was one of them who was out of place. Not unfamiliar – actually Will knew the zebra quite well – but this wasn’t someone he’d have expected to see here. And on moving closer, there was something troubling about the way he was sitting.

It wasn’t a sort of trouble that sent off “leave me alone” vibes, though, so Will made his way over.

“Hey, Rollie,” the marten greeted. “You’re looking pretty rough. What brings you here?”

“Hmm? Oh, hi, Will,” Roland said back, glancing over for a moment and then gesturing invitingly at the empty stool beside him. He looked back down into his half-empty glass, sighing. “You’d think two years together would be time enough to get to know someone.”

And there was a valid reason for the normally-sober Rollie to turn to hard liquor. “Still torn up about Tabbie, huh?”


It was the biggest thing this side of the Summer Sun Celebration. The ribbons were hung, the streamers were flying, and dozens of merchants had set up stalls or sales-wagons in the main square of Horseshoe Corners.

With this much bustle happening and traders from the nearby towns and beyond setting up shop where the trade roads crossed, Rough Rider had been a bit shocked, in the way of foals, when he’d learned that the oddly-named First Harvest Fair was just a local thing, not something celebrated across Equestria. Even more than the holidays that were in fact that widespread, this was the day everypony looked forward to. No Summer Sun formalities or Heart’s Warming pageantry or Nightmare Night offerings – instead there were games, foods from near and far, and wonders from all across Equestria to see as their little town turned into one big market for a day.


It had been a reasonable request. When a student who missed school – through no fault of her own, at that; sickness happened whether it was convenient timing or not – wanted some extra coaching to catch up, that was initiative that Matthew Zweigart wanted to reward and encourage. So it took some extra time after school; for a worthwhile cause like that, he’d make time. And the student in question was a decent student; he’d never regretted juggling those hours around to make those sessions happen.

The way the dog lit up under his direct attention didn’t hurt, and while it might not have been just the look of an eager student getting the instruction she needed, there was enough of that to disregard the possibly-lurking less-proper things.

So, once again, that brought them to his classroom for the hour after school. Jessie-Belle had put in good work between sessions, and he had no problem telling her so. Especially not with the way it made her smile.


Two days ago for the Herethroy protector-adventurer I finish the talisman of immortality.

She is the useful enough bug, the longtime companion, the quite reliable Herethroy that mostly I do not mind doing some favours for, such as the very long time doing no other enchantments. It is her share from the time we adventure together that pays for this talisman. Partly it is the carved statuette of ivory, the very detailed robed Cani forever leafing through a book with lifelike animation, the glory of Kvarse, that pays for the talisman. The work is long and difficult with many setbacks, but mostly I do not mind.

Today the krango-striped Rassimel says that he does not want such a talisman, not even if only my stash of wealth pays for it.


Weak, they’d called him. Sickly. Ill-favoured, if they were feeling kind; ugly, otherwise. The Duke’s son he might have been, but his brothers and sisters were Duke’s sons and daughters and hadn’t seen any reason to include an unhealthy little boy in their games and activities. It wasn’t as though an unhealthy puppy like Wreffen was likely to live to adulthood, never mind inherit their father’s title, so why cultivate loyalty with him?

Oh, the rest of Wreffen’s litter hadn’t been so harsh – they were all Cani, after all, and they were around him enough to know he had a keen mind and a good head for magic. But outside of that immediate circle, it wasn’t Cani who made up his associates – the children of a Rassimel legeriator here, young Orren guildsmen there; he’d even chanced to do an early favour for a very unlikely friend, a Sleeth on the cusp of becoming a mastersmith – the right word in his father’s ear had eased that appointment along.

Ironic that he’d survived through adolescence and into adulthood, while the same healthy children’s pursuits he’d been excluded from had killed Trust and Nastrothon.


The Hall of Dedication was a vast dome – one of the single largest structures to rise above the canopy of Sasheron. Through the reinforced glass of the dome shone the brilliant sunlight of a waning spring afternoon; beyond it on one side lay Sasheron’s main military staging facility, the second-largest stretch of developed land on the planet that wasn’t parked over, while on the other side lay some of the dense, red-leafed forest that had earned the world the moniker of “The Ruby of the Empire.”

Within the dome, opposite its arched entrance, between the main floor and the red expanse, a raised plinth was home to a rank of statues, armour alloy in three-times-life scale. There was one silvery statue for each race that had a large enough world in the Empire to muster a battalion of Imperial Guard, and two more: one, more alien than the rest, representing the Diplomatic Corps and, through it, all the Empire’s friends and allies; and another, ambiguously musteline – a hybrid of ermine and otter, if one read one’s history – to stand for all the races that hadn’t yet gained that distinction. Except for the amphibious Shikat in Diplomatic Corps regalia, all wore uniforms of the Imperial Service; and despite the anonymous grey of the metal, they wore Imperial Guard insignia.

Fitting, then, that the evening’s proceedings were to happen as the sun sank into a red sunset, with the red forest in the background.