Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Highlight from Flash Fiction Monday

Monday Flash S&S prompt: according to tradition, ritual magicians must take great effort to protect themselves from the baleful forces they summon and exploit. Write a flash story about a ritual gone awry. 400 words (or less). (Flash Fiction S&S prompts will be posted on the Facebook page).

Robert Subiaga provided this origin story of an undead sorcerer who summons the devil.

Early End, by Robert Subiaga 

Karathus of Alexandria pondered the scroll before him. The one that would summon "Satan" himself.

Satan had never before been summoned. As the scroll made clear, to call upon the services of the most powerful of demons was only fit for a suicide mission. The price was one's bodily life (though, contrary to the myths of the faithful, even Satan could not claim a soul) and never had anyone in sorcerous records survived.

For those to whom revenge was that precious it might have been worth it; but Karathus, seeking revenge in memory of his beloved sister, felt a stoicism that would have dishonored her memory. Their shared philosophy had been more ... "epicurean."

Karathus had exhausted himself much with the first ritual.

Yet Karathus needed Satan himself to make his enemy, the Emperor, pay for the execution of Karathus’s sister, Jezabel. His twin. His partner in sorcery. His lover.

For they had miscalculated the Emperor’s power. The Emperor had a mage of his own, and protected himself under the patronage of one of the most powerful demons in existence.

First Jezebal had been taken easily and beheaded; now troops surrounded Karathus's sanctum. They were readying the siege engines outside the tower.

With a last sigh, Karathus made the incantation to bring Satan forth. And as certain as Karathus knew it would be, the flaming face loomed before him, loomed before Karathus, seemed to "smell" him.

And then--as Karathus cackled weakly, fatalistically--Satan was left to do the mage’s bidding. 

The screams of the Emperor’s dying men, crunching bone, and spattering blood came almost immediately.

Trembling, Karathus collapsed into the plush, throne-like chair that had always been his favorite. He sighed for he was weak from first the spell of Resurrection, then of Summoning.

He fingers still shaking, he brushed his cheek. But he was careful to avoid scratching the growing itch there, just as he had made sure to do after the Awakening, when it came to the itching in the gaping wound over his heart.

The spell had been a gamble. It could only ever be used by any mage once anyway and only at the exact moment of his dying, on himself.

But he didn't want to be tearing off skin that would never grow back.

And that which was undead would begin to rot by itself, soon enough.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Inaugural Issue Call for Submissions

Submissions: OPEN
Submission deadline for inaugural issue: Tuesday, March 31st, 2020, 11:59p.
Editorial decisions: Thursday, April 30th, 2020.
Publication of inaugural issue: Friday, June 12th, 2020.

WHETSTONE is an amateur, unpaid, free and open access digital magazine that seeks to discover, inspire, and publish emerging authors who are enthusiastic about the tradition of “pulp sword and sorcery.” Writers in this tradition include (but are not limited to) the following: Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, Michael Moorcock, Karl Edward Wagner, and many more. “Pulp sword and sorcery” emphasizes active protagonists, supernatural menaces, and preindustrial (mostly ancient and medieval) settings. Some “pulp sword and sorcery” straddles the line between historical and fantasy fiction; at Whetstone, however, we prefer “secondary world settings,” other worlds liberated from the necessity of historical accuracy.

Length: We prefer short, compressed stories that are nevertheless complete and cohesive narratives (1500 to 2500 words). These limits are firm. No more, no less.

Style: We prefer “dialog light, action heavy” fiction that is unselfconsciously literary but nevertheless takes joy in an occasional old word that gives the breath of antiquity.

Publication, payment, and rights: Publication, payment, and rights: Issues will be published as .pdf files. If work is selected for publication in WHETSTONE, authors will be asked to provide, gratis, by contract, “First North American Serial Rights." In our opinion, this means that copyright is not transferred. All copyright stays with the writer; however, you have transferred "First North American Serial Rights." Some professional publications may ask for those BUT you are not legally permitted to provide those after publication in WHETSTONE. In other words, WHETSTONE is an amateur publication, meant for showcasing emerging talent for the consideration of professional markets (which is why we kept the word count so low). In essence: save your best work for paying markets!

About the editor: Jason Ray Carney is a lecturer in the Department of English of Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. He is the co-editor of the academic journal The Dark Man: Journal of Robert E. Howard and Pulp Studies and the area chair of the "Pulp Studies" section of the Popular Culture Association.