Fantastical Visions III

Edited by W. H. Horner, Christina Stitt & C. Nathan Dudek
Illustrated by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law


Trade Paperback • 6" x 9"

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Direct Price: $9.75

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FANTASTICAL VISIONS III Cover

Fantastical Visions III contains fourteen illustrated tales of fantasy and wonder. From heroic to tragic, light to dark, fanciful to painfully real, these stories explore the many facets of the genre.

An aging wizardess learns more than she expected as she hunts down the last dragon in “The Singing Dragon,” while a woman gets more than she expected from a mysterious plant in “Always Greener on the Other Side.” A demoness who has seen the error of her ways must still pay the price in “Blood of the Blade,” and a boy's coping mechanism comes to chilling life in “Paper Shadows.”

A surgeon takes on a disease of mythic proportions in “Affliction,” while an elven thief takes on the forces of darkness in “Thick as Thieves.” A dwarf fights for his place in the world and seeks revenge in “No One Marks My Passage,” and a crusader travels to home and wife with the help of a mysterious spirit in “Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair.”

A young knight must brave an ogre's cave in order to save his love in “Red Silk, Silver Dagger,” while two sisters must work their magic together in order to survive being stranded in a forbidden forest in “The Mordred Hour.” An exiled musician finds himself friendless and far from home in “The Pear Thief,” and an inmate in an Australian sanitarium finds the gifts of his elven blood to be useful to help a friend in “Happy Birthday, Pinko.”

An unappreciated scientist takes theatrical inspiration too far in “Cuts and Folds,” while a businessman complicates his love life with the purchase of a mysterious book in “Calico.”

Product Details

Fantasy Short Stories

220 Pages
14 Stories
28 Illustrations

Trade Paperback • 6" x 9"

ISBN 10: 0-9713608-3-9
ISBN 13: 978-0-9713608-3-9


Table of Contents

Introduction by Elizabeth Swanstrom

“Singing Dragon” by Cindy Ellen Hill
“Always Greener on the Other Side” by Jeremy Yoder
“Blood of the Blade” by Eliza Chan
“Paper Shadows” by Michail Velichansky
“Affliction” by Michael Penncavage
“Thick as Thieves” by Christine Ricketts
“No One Marks My Passage” by Jane Guill
“Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” by Carole McDonnell
“Red Silk, Silver Dagger” by Dennis C. Wilson
“The Mordred Hour” by Traci Normandeau
“The Pear Thief” by Sarah Totton
“Happy Birthday, Pinko” by James Cain
“Cuts and Folds” by Kimberly Eldredge
“Calico” by Tom Steckert

Reviews

Fantastical Visions III was a recommended anthology in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2006.

"With its eclectic, well written stories and beautiful cover illustrations, Fantastical Visions III easily rivals better known anthologies put out by major publishing houses. In fact, these stories and characters are arguably more memorable and—a rarity, it seems—there was not a single bad story in the book."—BSCReview.com

Excerpts


“Singing Dragon” by Cindy Ellen Hill

Over the gnashing of rock and ripping of earth I heard a mechanical wheezing. One of the trucks clawed its way back up the slope, its tires struggling to hold onto the collapsing roadway. I sniffed hard for an instant’s concentration and flung the tip of my wand back in the direction of the vehicle, but I needn't have bothered. The dragon was no longer after the truck. In a split-second glance I saw the dragon’s head come up like a sandstorm, rising into the sun, and falling, falling straight towards me. No doubt about it, the dragon had seen me. And this was no ordinary dragon. This was Karku.

I recognized him immediately from the ancient legend. The legend was so old that I was not sure I had even believed it, until now. As the story was told, the Chinese, the world's foremost experts in dragon lore and control, had vanquished Karku, not by standard obliteration techniques, but by lulling him to sleep in a cave high in the Hindu Kush, off the silk road which runs the Panshir Valley and all the way down to Herat. In one of the many deep chasms which drop from it sides, a young dragon master named Fahn Li, a mere precocious child too small to undertake the slaughter of such a magnificent beast, crept into the dragon’s lair and played his bamboo flute until the dragon snored. Then he danced spells around it, spells of sleep and dreams and binding and such peace that he would never need to wake. The people of Fahn Li’s village built a massive statute of Buddha at the entrance of the cave, one palm outstretched, one finger on his huge pouting lips, to block the dragon's escape and warn all travelers to maintain the silence of the sleeping dragon. Like trickle-down economics, dragonsleep-spell is a nice theory, but three thousand years later, there he is.

My bloody feet pounded the road, but to no avail. The dirt cracked and fell around me. The back of my neck grew hot. The dragon's fire was coming.

“Oh bloody hell,” I mumbled, and pointed the end of my wand at my nose, which hardened and turned yellow. Just as my fingers became jet black feathers I had the presence of mind to grab my wand with my toes. They quickly transformed to raven's claws, and I lifted into the air on the updraft of the dragon's heat, watching with regret as my cape vaporized below me. It was quite beautiful, green cotton velveteen backed with black Dupionni silk. It's hard to find real Dupionni these days.

 

“Always Greener on the Other Side” by Jeremy Yoder

Upon her right arm and both legs, the ends of the vines had penetrated her, giving her skin there a slight but distinctive greenish hue. Frantic, she stood, swatting madly at the trap she had allowed herself to fall into; the same trap set by so many others.

She cried, partially in terror, but more in response to the physical and emotional pain she felt with each vine's dislodgement. A black emptiness seemed to grow within her as she clawed and raked at the burrowing stems. It was as if her soul were being drained. Amidst her hysteria, she glared at the bulb that now seemed to wilt and turn away.

Rushing into the bathroom, she blasted the shower and jumped in without removing her clothing. She sobbed and scrubbed and scratched at her legs and arm where small, open pockets of flesh oozed blood. She collapsed into a ball and closed her eyes, unable to look at herself or touch the gaping, grotesque holes upon her body. She shuddered as the room spun.

The hollowness within her grew. She cried to the point of wailing as the darkness seemed to press and cling, consuming her from the inside-out. She trembled, feeling as if she had just witnessed the death of the love of her life.

 

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