Beneath Ceaseless Skies #109, November 29, 2012

Beneath Ceaseless Skies #109, November 29, 2012

This issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies brings stories on the theme of things not being as they seem.

Gregory Norman Bossert’s tale, “The Telling” begins with the death of Lord Dellus, Master of the House. There are mourning rituals to be followed, special foods to be eaten, pictures to be taken down, and the youngest male in the household must tell the bees. Pearse, the stern butler, assigns the latter task to Mel, a fidgety child who hides behind Cook’s aprons and would prefer to be left alone. Though Mel recites the hastily learned poem hoping it will work the proper magic, the bees are not satisfied. What follows is a search for meaning. Mel finds Dellus’ old dictionary with definitions that raise many questions, and sets off to find answers through a series of outings. What Mel learns demands a different telling and a longer journey.

The story has a number of twists. However, once the primary pieces are in place, their meaning becomes clear. Though slightly longer than perhaps necessary, this is a worthwhile read.

“The Scorn of the Peregrinator” by John E. O. Stevens is a tale about what happens when a traveler comes to a peaceful land intent on conscripting the residents for service to the Nine, once Six, Kings. It begins with Kes, one of the citizens, enjoying a glimpse of the sun, called here the Furnace, through a cairnskill feather. The peregrinator mistakes Kes for a child and orders Kes to lead him into town where he announces his position and intentions. As could be expected, the demands are not taken well and rebellion ensues. To prove that he is not bluffing, the peregrinator flexes his muscle, uses some magic, and hurts a few people. Then it is Kes’ turn to pass judgment.

That none of the characters here are human makes this story no less predictable.

A version of this review appears on the Tangent Online website.

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