QSFer Holly Heisey has a new non binary fantasy book out:
In the Hallows, words are magic, and words can kill.
Sky took a vow of silence and left the world above to keep her city’s magic alive. Now, she wanders the Hallows as an acolyte of the Lost Emperor – an unseen legend from another world whose words fuel the magic above. But when her lover breaks their vow of silence and falls deathly ill, Sky must descend to the deepest depths of the Hallows to beg the Lost Emperor’s help. What she finds, though, is a tragedy that spans centuries, and Sky will stop at nothing to make it right.
Part otherworldly epic and part nonbinary love story, Sky and Dew is a standalone short story.
I brushed my fingertips over my lover’s cheek, their skin growing cold and damp as the stone beneath me. Above us, swirls of color—dancing reds and shades of blue—ebbed back into the world from which they’d come. The incursion of voices in the corridor faded to whispered snatches of conversations, never fully heard. From stories below, the deep murmurs thrummed. The Hallows was safe again.
My lover’s eyes were open and unseeing. To save us, to save the magic that fed the city above, they had broken their vow of silence and spoken one word with their lips and voice. Now those lips were still.
I carried my lover to the Chamber of Broken Vows. Blue cold-lights shone in sconces along the polished stone walls, and shadows sat heavy on the rows of still forms laid on slabs. These were all who had broken their vows of silence.
I hesitated on the threshold. I could already feel the deep chill of the stasis reaction in my lover’s body, aching the bones of my arms and cramping my muscles. I had to lay them on an empty slab soon or frost would overtake them, and they would be truly lost.
Another acolyte came in, white cold-lantern humming in her hand. She brushed pale hair back from her face under her light blue hood. I did not know her name before she had come to the Hallows, but I called her Daisy in my mind. She reminded me of sunshine, and brighter times.
She reached a trembling hand to touch my lover’s lips. She looked around us at the other vow-breakers, lying in stasis. Her eyes were wide and glassed with unshed tears.
Daisy gestured toward my lover, in the simple hand-talk we used. Did they save the city?
I closed my eyes. It was the question always asked. Did the acolyte break their vow of silence out of carelessness, or to protect the Hallows and the city above?
Holly Heisey launched her writing career in sixth grade when she wrote her class play, a medieval fantasy. It was love at first dragon. Since then, her short fiction has appeared in The Doomsday Chronicles, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, Escape Pod, and Clockwork Phoenix 5. A freelance designer by day, Holly lives in Upstate New York with Larry and Moe, her two pet cacti, and she is currently at work on a science fantasy epic. You can find her online at http://hollyheisey.com