Canadian Fantasy

The Fifth Monday Four: Ounta – Part Two

By Christian Laforet

The fire swirled and crackled. A knot in the pine log popped, sending a small army of embers floating into the night. Aen, laying in his sheep-skin sack, watched as his mother stoked the flames. Tartara had only been in his life for a few months, but that time had been a whirlwind of instruction. She had taught him how to use his gift—to shift between the form of man and tiger—along with other useful traits. During all of those lessons, however, she had managed to carefully avoid his only real question: what happened the day the humans found him? Whenever Aen would broach the subject, his mother would give a vague, unsatisfying answer. His favourite being, It was so long ago, I cannot clearly recall.

Her refusal to shed light on that day, the day he went to live with the human tribe, had become so expected, that he stopped asking about it. That is why, while camped on the north road to Nythland, with freshly killed rabbit cooking over the fire with fat, lazy snowflakes danced to the frozen earth around them, Aen was shocked when his mother began to speak of the past without prompting.

“We had been travelling for many days before we encountered the group of humans. Your father, his name was Morga, felt that our safety lie in hiding amongst their kind.” As she spoke, Tartara, kept her gaze on the browning meat of the rabbit.

Aen pushed himself to sitting. “Why are you telling this to me now?”

Slowly, the woman, clad in a layered cloak, turned her attention to her son. “The event still hurts like a fresh wound. I would prefer not tell you at, but if we are going to continue on our quest, you need to know what happened.” (more…)

Unmoored

By Justine Alley Dowsett

Red in the face, Renaud Laurent stood and slammed his cup down, splashing ale on the table’s checkered cloth. “I’ll bet any one of you here,” he slurred in his thick French accent, “that I’m the luckiest man ever to have crossed the Ismeran Channel!”

“Aww, sit down and put your money where your mouth is, Renaud!” His dicing companion, a red-headed Haldoram man, nudged the dicing cup toward him, taking a swig from his own ale cup and wiping his scruffy chin with the back of his hand. “All you do is talk.”

“Ginny, another round please,” Renaud called out after dribbling ale all over his thick curly beard, “I’m about to win all of Dagan’s coin.”

“If you lose this hand, I’ll buy the round,” Dagan countered.

Renaud grinned, scooping the dice up into his calloused hands. “As you say.”

He blew on the dice in his hands for emphasis, his blue eyes twinkling with more than just drink under his thick brown brows, before he let them fly onto the checkered cloth below and waited, holding his breath.

“Ha!” Dagan jeered. “That’s a win for me.”

Renaud studied the results of the dice closely, feigning shock. “Why, I believe you’re right, Dagan.” He lifted his head. “Ginny, I’ll have that ale now.”

“You’ve had more than your share,” Ginny called back, but that didn’t stop her from delivering another cup at Dagan’s expense, sashaying her ample bottom as she did so.

Dagan scowled, seeming to realize he’d been played, but wisely kept his thoughts to himself. Seeing that he’d possible overstayed his welcome, Renaud downed his first cup and started in on his second as he looked about for another dicing partner.

“Ah, well, I guess I better call it a night,” he said loudly, wobbling slightly as he reached for his winnings from the night. Not bad, he noted, mentally tallying them, though I should’ve bet less on that last round.

He turned about, ready to depart, only to find a lithe, dark-haired man staring intently at him. Renaud squinted at the newcomer. By his appearance, he was not a sailor like most of the patrons at The Crow’s Nest. His hair was greasy and pulled back into a loose tail at the nape of his neck, and his clothes were well-tailored and expensive looking, though they had clearly seen better days.

“Excuse me,” Renaud belched. “I was just leaving.”

“Luckiest man ever to have sailed across the Ismeran Channel, huh?” the man questioned, eyeing the dice on the table. “Ever thought of playing a game with a bit more skill involved? Poker, by chance?”

Renaud looked down into his mostly full cup. “Well, it seems I’ve still got some left in me after all,” he drawled. “Why not?” (more…)

Featured Author: Justine Alley Dowsett

We’re very excited for this month’s featured author, Justine Alley Dowsett. Besides being a fantastic writer, Justine is also owner and publisher of Mirror World Publishing.

You’ve heard us mention Mirror World several times over the last few months, but if you need a refresher course on just what Mirror World is all about, click here.

Justine’s writing is both deeply emotional and utterly fantastic. Although her books would be generally categorized as either science fiction of fantasy (or both!), her work is accessible and quite enjoyable for everybody, even those who don’t usually read such genres (Monsters!).

For the month of February, we’ll be bringing you an excerpt from Justine’s most recent novel, Unintended, a brand new short story and to cap it off, another except, this one an exclusive from Justine’s upcoming novel, Uncharted!

If you are interested in buying Justine’s books, you can do so at Mirrorworld.com, or if you prefer Amazon for your shopping needs, they can be found right here.

And make sure to check out Justine on Goodreads