Fantastical Visions II

Edited by W. H. Horner and C. Nathan Dudek
Illustrated by Various Artists


Trade Paperback • 6" x 9"

Retail: $13.00

Direct Price: $6.50

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FANTASTICAL VISIONS II Cover

Presenting another collection of memorable stories of the fantastical! Thrill to the storytelling of up-and-coming fantasists, as they take you to faraway lands populated by magical characters.

A mother must venture deep into the swamps to rescue her only child from an ancient evil that has preyed on the young of her people for as long as memory serves in “The Grass Witch.”

In “Lord of the Earth,” a retired hero is pulled back into the life of an adventurer, and discovers just how twisted and polluted magic has made his world.

When the King of the Gods decides it is time for him to take back power, in “Olympic Politics,” he discovers that the political climate may have changed too much for his brand of thunderbolt-enforced leadership.

A trouble-making nymph finds herself victim of a fitting punishment bestowed upon her by the Queen of the Gods in "The Last Word.”

A book-lover buys more than he bargained for in “What Lies Between.”

Ten stories in all, as well as advice on how to write award-winning fiction await you within Fantastical Visions II.

Product Details

Fantasy Short Stories

257 Pages
10 Stories
10 Illustrations

Trade Paperback • 6" x 9"

ISBN 10: 0-9713608-1-2
ISBN 13: 978-0-9713608-1-5


Table of Contents

Introduction:
“Perchance to Dream” by Jean Graham

“The Grass Witch” by Lisa Swanstrom
“The Enchantress of Isgor” by Angeline Hawkes-Craig
“The Starred Sapphire” by Pamela Hearon Hodges
“The Moonstone of Kadre Maryn” by Brian R. Durkin
“What Lies Between” by Michael Penncavage
“Lord of the Earth” by Michail Velichansky
“Let Sleeping Dragons Lie” by Christine E. Ricketts
“Olympic Politics” by Kimberly Eldredge
“Guardian Star” by Candice L. Tucker
“The Last Word” by Laura Kay Eppin

Essays:
“Don’t Be a Bobble-Head, and Other Bits of Guidance” by Timons Esais
“How to Win Fantasy Fiction Contests” by W. H. Horner

Cover Illustration by Lee Seed

Illustrations by:
Fernando Molinari
Chris Chua
Stephanie Law
Juan Navarro
Max Bertolini

Excerpts


“The Grass Witch” by Lisa Swanstrom

I don’t know what my plan is, not exactly. I aim to kill her, if I might, and save my son. But if arrows won’t kill her, what will? My breathing’s heavy now, any minute the crone could find me squatting under where she grinds her bread. My eyes dart around the room, looking for a better spot, but there’s none. And I notice, peering closer, that the little heaps of white aren’t rocks at all, but bones, picked clean and blanched white. Tiny bones, no bigger than mice. Our babies’ bones. Neatly stacked and quiet. Little fingers, little toes.

I can’t control my stomach. All the sweets that Julep made for Ashlar’s birthday pour right out on the Grass Witch’s floor. I want to weep, but that won’t help the wee bairns now. Wiping the sweat from my brow, I pull my limbs tight to my body, try not to shudder, and wait in the dark for the grass witch to bring my boy.

It’s not long before she comes skulking through the hole, a bundle in her arms. Ashlar, I think, and hold myself close. I’ll rush her when she sets him down, and she’ll never know what struck her. But I can’t control myself when I see her face, and I let out a cry that is low and filled with pain.

 

“Olympic Politics” by Kimberly Eldredge

“Must I surrender so easily then?” he asked. “Must I accede defeat to the One God and his nasty little bearded son?”

“Defeat, great lord?” Hephaestus said, the half-grin slipping from his face and returning almost at one, like one of the androids given two orders at once; Hephaestus’ smile could decide to go or stay so it tried to do both. “You gave up on that battle two thousand years ago. The One God had taken your place as King of the Gods as you took the place of your father before you.”

“The One God is no child of mine!” Zeus said angrily.

“Be that as it may, the mortals worship him now, not us. It seems that most of the Olympians have accepted that.”

“I see that every day,” Zeus said, suddenly tired. “Hera has a new silvered mirror and only dresses in clothes Hermes brings her from the runway.” Zeus said runway like it was a word that didn¹t fit comfortably in his mouth. “You have this contraption built by a mortal and even Hermes prefers his Nike sneakers to his winged sandals. I¹ve even heard that some of the gods don’t drink nectar anymore. They drink this new mortal stuff called Coke! What is happening to us, Hephaestus?”

“We have been replaced,” the god said softly, laying a dirty hand of Zeus’ arm. Zeus’ shoulders slumped and he nearly sank to the balcony floor in defeat. “But,” Hephaestus continued in a voice that made Zeus raise his head and look at him. “There is always an option.” He let the end of the sentence hang in the air between them, unsaid and full of potential.

“An option?” Zeus repeated, drawing closer to Hephaestus, for once not noticing that the other god was filthy from his work at the forge or the scent of sweat that always hung about him.

Hephaestus wagged his eyebrows at Zeus before continuing.

“Religions come and they go,” Hephaestus began, throwing an arm around the former King of the Gods and drawing him close. “But what¹s to say that we don’t encourage this one to go sooner rather than later. I have a plan to overthrow the One God and to put the Olympians—to put you—back into power.”

Zeus’ eyes glittered as he leaned into Hephaestus’ smoky embrace to hear the plan. Soon, the one-time Thunder Thrower and soon-to-be re-crowned King of the Gods was nodding to Hephaestus’ words and rubbing his bicep eagerly as he thought about once more flinging lightning bolts onto the heads of mortals from the great height of Olympus.

 

“The Last Word” by Laura Kay Eppin

The marriage goddess found no humor in me the day she sought her husband among the nymphs. Zeus has the tendency to stray away from his spouse, and on that particular day his wandering eye fell upon one of my companions.

Hamadria, a nymph of the oak, was amusing him that day. I had no particular tie to Hamadria, no reason to risk my life for her, except that I knew she would do the same for me. It was not out of a loving friendship that I acted, but obedience to an unwritten law binding my kind to protect each other. We knew that we were food for the gods, even the ones with proud wives. It is a strange relationship we nymphs had, but it is one that has kept us alive for centuries.

Hamandria was pretty, I suppose, but not beautiful like Artemis. Artemis stood tall and took pride in her swift intellect and archery abilities, standing tall with a strong build and fearing nothing. Hamandria, on the other hand, was a wiry spindle of a nymph with dark rings around her eyes and a head of platinum blonde hair. She had a fragile body, which she displayed brazenly in a tight toga with a high hemline. She drank much, which became the cause of her constantly red-tinged eyes. Though always laughing, especially in the presence of men, I couldn’t help but feel that she was empty inside.

Zeus didn’t see the Hamandria I saw and sought her out many times. Hera may have turned a blind eye on this activity once, perhaps even twice, but after a while Zeus’s frequent rendezvous with Hamandria turned Hera into a vindictive huntress, searching for a victim to blight.

 

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